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How to Turn Constructive Criticism into Self-Improvement

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.” – John Foster Dulles.

If you don’t know who John Foster Dulles is or why he’s relevant here, let me give you a quick history lesson. John Foster Dulles was the former Secretary of State under Dwight Eisenhower in the midst of the cold war. Now imagine yourself in the middle of an international crisis on a daily basis. Would that be your motto? I’d like to think it would be mine, but I have to admit those are an extreme set of circumstances to be under and I still look to the future and search for solutions.

The majority of us have it much easier than John Foster Dulles, right? The problems we face in our day to day lives aren’t quite as severe. You were reprimanded at work for not turning in a report on time. So instead of complaining to your co-workers about being reprimanded, take the two minutes to update your calendar with appropriate deadlines. Your kids are acting out in school. Don’t complain to other parents, go on a fact-finding mission. Explain the situation and ask for advice.

Don’t Personalize Criticism

More often than not, we tend to personalize criticisms instead of using them to improve ourselves and the things we do. So here’s what you can do the next time to turn criticism into self-improvement:

  1. Take a deep breath.

  2. Listen not only to the words but also the tone of voice of the person providing the feedback.

  3. Skip past the hurt feelings or anger.

  4. Identify the problem or even better the source of the problem.

  5. Come up with a reasonable solution to the problem.

If you pick up a problem, determine a solution, and move on; the takeaway will be much greater than if you dwell on it. It can seem difficult at first, however, there are plenty of resources out there like this one from Postive Health Wellness to help even further.  I’ll leave you with another quote I love.

“Life is like photography. You use the negative to develop.” – Author Unknown

How do you use criticism to grow? Please share in the comments below!

Looking for more great tips? Check out our other blogs here!

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