If you read through any entry to mid-level job description, you will notice that somewhere in the bulleted list of desired qualifications, between “strong attention to detail” and “engaging self-starter” is the phrase, “eager to learn”.
And you might say to yourself, “I am eager to learn. I’m so eager to learn something new that I’m going as far as to apply for this job and take on all of the unknown variables that may come along with it.”
After all, that’s what propelled you through school or your last job. You wanted to learn skills that would help you move onward and upward. But being eager to learn really means gracefully accepting criticism of your work and processes–and being eager to learn how to improve.
A wise person once told me that red pen means that your editor cares about you. A page without edits on it isn’t a compliment; it just means that your editor is more than happy to let you fail right out of the task at hand and even later on, out of the job itself. It’s important to actively listen to the critiques of your colleagues or supervisors, so you can eventually grow into the roles that they currently occupy.
While it can be irritating at times, especially when you have worked hard on an assignment, to be told that it’s not exactly right, this delivery of information is completely necessary. Here are some tips for how to accept (and love) constructive criticism:
- Acknowledge the Errors: It’s unlikely you’ll get an assignment completely right on the first try (or even the tenth), so what’s the use in arguing? Politely accept any tracked or suggested edits and ask for an explanation if any of the edits are unclear.
- Absorb the Knowledge: If you can make demonstrable changes to your processes when given criticism, you will show your supervisors that you have the diligence and drive to become more successful in your duties and therefore your role over time. Take time to read (and reread) instructions so that you can improve your work and complete the task in question more quickly or easily next time.
- Show your Enthusiasm: It’s important to show your enthusiasm when a colleague or supervisor tells you how your work can improve. Remember, they’re doing you a favor by showing you how you can get better at your job.
- Don’t Take It Personally: Being eager to learn means not taking criticism of your work as criticism of you as a person, but as an objective observation meant to help you move forward. Beyond that, willingness to change reflects a good workplace attitude–and that’s exactly what you want to be known for.
- Say Thank You: Every time a colleague or supervisor makes the effort to mark up your assignment or spends a few minutes chatting with you about ways in which you can improve, take it to heart and say thank you. Remember that criticism is a gift – and you’ll only get better at whatever assignment you’re working on by listening to and implementing it.
Jameson likes to write and solve problems. By day, she’s an account coordinator for a healthcare-focused public relations firm. By night, she’s a blog contributor, pet-sitter, and book club host. All day, every day, she’s a huge fan of all animals and most people. Follow Jameson on Instagram: @ramesonj.