• Ephesians 2:10
    "For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

​Constructive Criticism Is Transformational

October 1 2023

My perspective was if someone wasn’t saying positive things that made me feel good, I did not want to hear it. I viewed criticism as negative and as an attack on me. It made me feel somewhat inadequate, disliked, not valued and rejected. I know that may sound strange, but that’s where I was. Apparently something happened in my early life that gave me that wrong impression. And unfortunately, I empathized with any person who was on the receiving end of criticism. I could relate to how they felt even if it didn’t affect them the same way it did me. I just assumed it hurt them as much as it did me.

My negative view of criticism stayed with me for a very long time. I remember early in my work career, I was provided feedback on my performance by my manager. I expected to receive glowing comments about reaching and exceeding my goals. As I sat back and prepared to hear how well I had done, I was put in a state of total shock. As she walked through the evaluation, I could not believe what I was hearing. At one point, I stopped her and asked if she had the right performance appraisal. I said no one has ever told me those things before. She politely smiled and replied, “Yes. This is your assessment”. It caused my heart to flutter and created some anxiety. After she finished, I wondered if I still had a job. She said I am providing you with constructive feedback. You need this in order to get to the next level of leadership. I thought to myself if I am this bad, how can I ever progress? She promised to help me by giving me more constructive feedback at different intervals throughout the year. And I thought that’s just what I need, several attacks on me periodically instead of annually.

After soaking in all of what I perceived as negative feedback, I reviewed the performance appraisal several more times. I came to the conclusion that in order to improve and move to the next level, the feedback was both necessary and good for me. We worked on a development plan that would change the trajectory of my career. I was proficient in my current job, but what she communicated was what I needed to move up. The next level required a different skill set that would include broader vision capabilities, creating and executing on strategic initiatives, operations management and executive level leadership development.

Over the course of the next two years, we met regularly and I learned to accept her constructive criticism. I worked hard at building my new skill set because I aspired to become a successful leader in Corporate America. I could have run away from the challenge, but instead it motivated me and I decided to stay and put in the work. The Word of God tells us that the diligent shall bear rule or become leaders.

All criticism is not bad if the person who is providing it has your best interest in mind. It might not feel good as it is being administered, but if you weigh the benefits, it will make you better in the long run. Criticism given with the intent to make you feel bad, tear you down and make you feel useless comes from a bad place and a bad person.

Proverbs 25:12 (NLT) tells us that valid criticism is like a gold earring or gold jewelry. In other words, it is very valuable. And Proverbs 29:1 says that a person who refuses to accept criticism will be destroyed beyond recovery (NLT). Therefore, we have to reset our thinking and accept constructive criticism as a beneficial tool not just for work, but for life in general. It serves a very useful purpose and if properly embraced, it can be transformational.

Father thank you for opening our eyes so that we see as we ought to see. Amen.

My manager saw my potential and gave me that hard feedback. She later became a lifelong friend. I often share my story about how she cared enough about me to tell me the truth even though she knew it would hurt. Throughout my career, I put into practice what I learned from her and provided constructive criticism to high potential employees within my organization.

I hope I have been able to help them in the way I was supported.

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