Home

Pearls for Practice: Accepting constructive criticism

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.

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

2104 wa nurse criticism 01

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.