Everyone’s a critic. We live in a world where it seems that everyone has an opinion about you and what you are doing. But because even well-intentioned advisors and critics are not always on target, it can be difficult to decide which advice or criticism is worth your while. So how do you go about determining which criticism* to accept and which to ignore? Here are the three factors I consider when deciding whether to accept someone’s advice or criticism.
Consider the Source
People often give advice based on their own experiences and beliefs. That means that their advice can be enhanced or tainted based on very personal things that might not apply to you or that their advice is limited by their own inexperience. That is why it is important to consider not just who is giving you advice but what their background is. For instance, the advice from a C-Suite executive you admire should be considered and heeded in a different manner than the advice from your professional counterpart. The advice from the executive is exponentially more valuable because of her level of professional experience is significantly greater than your coworker’s. Now, this is not to say that an inexperienced person is incapable of giving great advice, it’s just a warning to consider the advisor’s level of experience, their relationship to you, their views on life before deciding if you should accept it.
Another point of consideration when deciding whether to accept advice is yourself. Nobody knows you like you know yourself. Nobody knows your goals, your intentions or your heart like you do. So before accepting or rejecting advice, decide if the advice is in line with who you are. For example, if you are a soft-spoken woman and your supervisor tells you that you need to become more boisterous in order to be a better leader; consider an alternative way to communicate with your subordinates rather than trying to force yourself to be unnaturally loud. Learn to filter through advice so that you can remain your true, authentic self while improving your performance.
Consider the Outcomes
Finally, before accepting or rejecting advice, always consider the possible outcomes of heeding the advice. Ask yourself if heeding a suggestion or advice will take you farther away or distract you from your goal, your vision. If there is a chance that it will, then it’s a no brainer. You don’t need to do it. I don’t care how experienced, how well intentioned the advice giver is; if following their lead will result in a detriment to your success, allow the advice or critique to go in one ear, and out the other. On the other hand, if there’s a chance that taking this person’s critique, or advice could elevate you and bring you closer to where you want to go, then consider going for it. And go for it even if it requires challenging or changing some of your previous beliefs and behaviors. Elevation oftentimes requires you being uncomfortable, but it’s worth it.
So if you’re stumped about whether to accept advice or take a critique to heart simply weigh the advice or critique against who you are, consider the source of the advice or critique and consider the possible outcomes. Every piece of advice won’t be for you and that’s ok just be on the lookout for that advice that is and don’t be afraid to heed it.
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*I want to be clear; this discussion is aimed at constructive criticism. Unfortunately, some people offer unconstructive criticism; criticism that is meant to merely tear you down, not improve you. If you find yourself the recipient of criticism that is not meant to enhance you, ignore such commentary.