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Pearls for practice: accepting constructive criticism


This story was published in the Spring-Summer 2021 issue of The Washington Nurse magazine.


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The mention of the word criti­cism” can instantly bring up feelings of dread, failure and defen­sive­ness. However, criti­cism can be an impor­tant oppor­tu­nity for growth, self-reflec­tion and self-aware­ness for the profes­sional nurse. Criti­cism or feedback can be given in formal or informal settings by a super­visor, peer or colleague. Here’s a few tips on how to receive criti­cism with grace.

SEPARATE THE CONSTRUCTIVE FROM THE DESTRUCTIVE. #

Criti­cism should build up, not teardown. Learning to differ­en­tiate between the two is key. Demor­al­izing, hurtful comments or insults are not part of healthy, construc­tive criti­cism. Reflec­tion and mindful­ness can help identify criti­cism that is not given respectfully.

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY! #

Construc­tive criti­cism is a commen­tary on your work, not on YOU. Pause and take a deep breath, and work to separate your emotions from the criti­cism you have received. This will allow for clarity in identi­fying tangible ways that you can improve and grow.

RESPOND WITH CURIOSITY AND ASK FOR SPECIFICS. #

What needs to be improved? Does the feedback giver have any resources that might help you address the issue? Specific criti­cism will provide a defin­i­tive place to start to address the issue.

Remember: Construc­tive criti­cism is designed to help you learn and grow! It can also foster better teamwork and commu­ni­ca­tion, and improve patient safety. Nobody’s perfect, and we all need help living up to our poten­tial from time to time.