Common Mistakes Made by Receivers of Criticism – Part I

4 Aug

Just as giving helpful criticism is a skill, being an effective receiver also requires skill. All of this takes patience, practice, and the ability to think practically.

Becoming a skilled receiver starts with understanding that in a criticism exchange the real control of the outcome belongs with the receiver. After all, it is the receiver who decides whether a criticism is valid or not, and whether they are going to act on the information. It’s also the receiver who decides if what’s being communicated is a criticism!

However, benefiting as the receiver of criticism goes beyond simply knowing that you are in control. It also requires knowing how to put that control to use even if you are interacting with an unskilled giver – and there are plenty of them out there.

Let’s explore where many receivers go wrong by looking at some typical receivers:

  • I’m Being Attacked Receivers: These receivers instantly become defensive, fire off questions, and challenge givers in order to protect themselves. They overlook the fact that most givers have been poorly trained in giving criticism. They also fail to realize that making givers uncomfortable is likely to bring out the worst in them. More importantly, these receivers fail to recognize that in the end, they run the risk of not obtaining what could be very valuable information.
  • Argumentative Receivers: These receivers fail to listen and view what’s being said as information. Rather, they tend to listen in an argumentative or judgmental way, which automatically creates a right/wrong, agree/disagree, or win/lose condition. Putting a lot of emphasis on weighing whether you agree or disagree with the criticism before taking the time to fully hear and consider what is being said can spark a defensive response – which is not a good way to promote a productive exchange.
  • Quick Responder Receivers: These receivers fail to stop, think, and investigate what’s being said before they react. Like Argumentative Receivers, they can listen to argue and judge and are ready with a quick response to defend themselves. As the receiver, it’s vital to use the control that is inherently yours by considering the intent behind the criticism and inspecting whether the criticism is accurate.
  • Instant FixIt Receivers: These receivers make the frequent mistake of trying to remedy the criticism right away by jumping to conclusions and doing what they believe needs to be done. They take matters into their own hands without first finding out what the desired action is – from the giver’s perspective. When these receivers are unsuccessful after making several attempts, frustration and disappointment follow, while the original issue remains unresolved.

We’ll continue to look at some common receiver mistakes in my next blog.


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