Take Criticism by Saying ‘Thank You’

Recently I led a class of adult students who made presentations to the group and were then critiqued by their peers on their presentation style.  The rules were that the only acceptable response to the critiques was to say ‘thank you.’

We laughed together at how hard that is to do.  Our first response is to defend ourselves when someone offers (even helpful, kindly-meant) criticism.  So I laid out some parameters that I filter criticism through in my mind before I respond with ‘thank you’ (which I always try to do).  My internal filters have three levels:

Level 1: This criticism is absolutely ridiculous.  You’re an idiot and that’s why you’re criticizing me right now.  But hey, even a broken clock is right twice/day, so who knows, maybe you got lucky and there’s a tiny grain of truth there.

Level 2: I don’t fully buy this criticism, because I think it’s mixed with other things like misunderstanding or personal motives, but there’s definitely something in it that I can grow from.

Level 3:  You got me.  Guilty.  Own it.  I’m an idiot and need to change.

But my criticizers rarely know what level they made it to, because I just say, “thank you for your feedback.”

They have after all, taken time out of their day to give me feedback, and feedback is always good for me (and you), whether it’s good or bad.

How else are we going to grow?

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