Most people have a hard time taking criticism. Viewed as an attack on our character, we quickly find arguments and points proving the criticism is inaccurate. Being able to learn and grow from feedback is important but this defensiveness can easily get in the way.
Developing systems and habits takes a long-term approach at reaching goals. It forces us to maintain improvements rather than doing the minimum to reach a goal. It also allows us access to many areas of improvement that others cannot access.
Being able to adjust the way we interact at social events, how we respond to adversity, or even how we prepare for a big project is incredibly important for us to be able to grow and reach very high goals. These aren’t easy goals and they don’t require a simple process of goal-setting. But they are attainable goals if you work on developing the right behaviors and thought-processes.
The only way that I have found to truly adjust and improve my behaviors and thought-processes is by systematic evaluation and adjustment. This typically occurs by finding small, specific behaviors to regulate. Then focus on maintaining the actions until they become habit. Once they are solidified as habits, then we can look to build on those habits.
One of the benefits of systematic improvement is that we can start to take the criticism of others in a different way. Instead of attacks on our character we can view them as clues to alert us where to focus next. We can take that feedback and process it as constructive criticism.
I remember a few years ago I received a performance evaluation from a supervisor who was new to our company. It was a very positive review but there were a few points of improvement on the document. Instead of trying to defend or argue those points, I simply returned to my computer and thought about what I can change systematically in order to improve in that area.
I quickly identified a few changes to the way I was doing something and used some calendar reminders to assure I held up the change. After about six months I noticed improvement. I continued to improve and then on my next annual review made sure to address the improvement.
My supervisor had forgotten he even gave that feedback and was impressed that I actually took the information and made positive changes. I explained my system and how I was able to do it. This seemed to create a much more open environment where he knew he could tell me when something needed to be adjusted and I would work on adjusting the systems and habits in order to achieve his desired result.
We all get positive and negative information about ourselves. How we process that is more than if we naturally can take criticism. Being able to take criticism typically correlates with being able to improve. If we are able to adjust our systems and habits in order to consistently improve and reach our goals, then we can start to welcome criticism as another means of self-evaluation. Then we can start to develop the right behaviors and thought-processes to grow.