How To Use Your Boss' Criticism To Your Advantage


Whether you're just starting your first internship or you're already settling into a full-time job, your bosses are likely to give you some constructive feedback sooner or later.

So why do employers give feedback? Well, it's to ensure you know what's expected of you. It's to show they care about your work, they want to help you be successful in your position and to help you move up through the ranks.

So, if you're trying to make impactful waves in your workplace, here are some things you can do to make receiving feedback as effective as possible:

1. Ask for feedback.

Taking initiative and asking for feedback is a great way to show your employer you're committed to doing a good job and that you're passionate about finding ways to improve.

The best way to do this is to set up a one-on-one meeting with your manager and ask them for feedback on specific things you're working on.

For example, if you're in charge of creating a presentation deck for a certain project, you can walk through the presentation with them and get their advice on what you can do to make the presentation as effective as possible.

Also, asking for concrete feedback on specific things is a great way to maximize the advice you're receiving.

So don't just say, “Is there anything I could be doing better?” Instead, focus on a specific task you're working on and ask a direct question like, “Am I taking the right approach here?”

This will give your manager a chance to provide detailed feedback while also setting the tone for them to provide more general feedback when needed.

2. Take time to process the feedback you receive.

For most of us, the prospect of receiving feedback makes us feel somewhat defensive, and our initial impulse might be to fight back against being criticized.

However, by retraining our brain to think of feedback as something helpful, we can overcome this impulse and find productive ways to incorporate it into our work.

The best way to do this is by taking some time to process the feedback before responding to it. So rather than addressing it immediately, thank the person and take some time to think about what they've said.

Once you've done that, you can respond and address specific points you'd like to clarify or expand on later.

The key to keeping an open mind in this situation is to realize that the person giving you feedback has only one goal: to help you improve.

By making this your focus, you can ensure you're receptive to their advice and that you actually act on the information you receive.

3. Agree on action items.

Since feedback is designed to help you improve, having a concrete way to implement improvements is really important. To do this, make sure to walk away from the meeting with a concrete list of next steps.

Going back to the presentation example, if your manager has asked that you add additional slides or metrics to the deck, be sure to outline what those slides or metrics will look like and come up with a timeline for when you will implement the changes.

4. Try it out.

Once you've outlined your next steps, it's time to apply the feedback.

The key to doing this successfully is to focus on each step carefully, and take into account both the overall and the more detailed points of the feedback you received.

However, it's also OK to push back on elements that don't feel right to you.

For example, if you implement a change to the presentation deck, and you feel like it doesn't add any real value to the project, it's OK to say so and to brainstorm other things you can do instead.

When handled in an openminded, receptive way, constructive feedback can be a powerful tool that will help you succeed in your role and develop new skills along the way.