Deal with constructive criticism

Nonto Masuku

I STRUGGLE with accepting criticism, even when it is constructive.  I become very defensive and spend more energy trying to justify and defend myself than actually listening to what is being said.

I am sure you will all agree that I am not the only one who struggles with this.   In the heat of the moment, many of us become emotional or even worse attack the person giving us feedback.

Yet in actual fact, constructive criticism is often the only way we learn about our weaknesses.  Without it we cannot improve and make the necessary changes.

This past week, producers of the local movie Qiniso, were under fire.  One reporter described the premiere as “a damp squib”.

I did not attend the event, however, judging from the comments and reviews I read, it appears the movie fell short of people’s expectations.

I am sure that for producers and actors themselves, the comments and the criticism have not been an easy pill to swallow.

I read an article where one of the producers was responding to the critics.  The producer came across as being rather defensive more than accepting the criticism.

In a sense, I understand his reaction. Some of the criticism was not necessarily constructive.  On the other hand, I urge the producers not to be frazzled by the criticism and spend too much energy trying to justify themselves.  Rather, let this be a learning curve.

I read an article about how to accept constructive criticism.  I would like to share some of the writer’s insights.  I am sure that not only will the Qiniso producers and the cast benefit from this, but all of us too. The writer states that when faced with criticism, do the following:

Stop your first reaction: At the first sign of criticism, before you do anything — stop.  Try not to react at all.  At that moment, you can remind yourself to stay calm.

Remember the benefit of getting feedback
Quickly remind yourself of the benefits of receiving constructive criticism, namely, to improve your skills, work product and meet the expectations that others have of you.

Listen for understanding
As the person shares feedback, focus on understanding his or her comments and perspective.

Say thank you
Express appreciation (hard as it might be).  It does not mean you are necessarily agreeing with everything, but rather it does show that you are acknowledging the effort someone took to evaluate you and share their thoughts.

Above all, keep your head up
There will be multiple things you need to work on along the way, which is fine. Just keep your head up and remind yourself that you are talented and you can better yourself.

Team Qiniso, keep at it!

Nonto Masuku is a partner of an image and reputation management firm