Turning Critical Feedback into Motivation

Criticism is always hard to take. Often it simply creates animosity, frustration, or gloom, and the substance of the criticism is ignored. But, with the right attitude, you can actually use criticism as a motivation, a spur to better performance. Here’s how.

Focusing on progress

To stay motivated after receiving negative feedback, you need to frame the criticism in terms of your progress, rather than your commitment. You want to think about the criticism in terms of your progress or lack of it.

Use the criticism as a challenge to assess your progress, or possibly the lack of it. This way, it will spur you to work harder if you feel you need to be accomplishing more than you have.

On the other hand, if you start to question your commitment because of the criticism, this will tend to decrease your motivation. Progress is easier to make when you know that you have a strong commitment to what you’re doing. According to some experts, it is your self-confidence that is often a better predictor of what you will accomplish than your actual ability.

Growth mindset

This ties in with the idea of making progress. You have to believe that you can develop, grow, and get better. The goal here is to learn and to learn through your mistakes and failures. This helps to increase your resilience when you experience adversity and failure. The growth mindset is an understanding that learning requires working through difficulties and persevering because they are necessary for growth.

Growth only comes from confronting and overcoming challenges.

Creating some space

You need to put your failure and criticism into perspective. You need to realize that everyone, no matter how capable, will experience setbacks and criticism. And so you need to keep the criticism in that context, as part of the setbacks we all experience, and something from which we can learn and grow.

This also means that you shouldn’t take the criticism personally, that is, as a comment on you as a person, but rather, on your performance.

Engage your emotions

Criticism can be painful and often people just want to sweep it under the rug, but this is not a very constructive way to deal with it. You need to think about the emotions that it raises and what those emotions are trying to tell you.

Then translate the energy of those emotions into positive action. Think about the difference between taking action to address the criticism or doing nothing and using that dissonance to spur you to action.

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