How Constructive Criticism & Compliments Aid in Growth

As an athlete you have succeeded at finding competitive advantages and ways to implement strategies to improve in many aspects.  Coach says, “your ball skills need to improve.” Your strength coach told you that your core needed to get stronger. The criticism and feedback you received from your coaches, mentors, and teammates lead to action.  The actions you took ultimately helped you improve and pushed you to be the athlete you are today. Coming up with a game plan and taking the necessary steps to be better at your craft on the field can be utilized in your post-professional athletic careers as well. Below are some thoughts on how criticism can help you improve your personal or professional life.


View constructive criticism as an opportunity to become better

It’s a human survival mechanism to, at times, become defensive when you hear criticism.  As athletes and competitors, you never want to fail at anything. Because of that notion, criticism is often avoided.  There are some valuable lessons and opportunities that can come from constructive criticism. Early criticism is a necessary evil for future success.

Too much praise weakens your motivation  

You have heard the saying “what’s good for you in small doses can be bad for you if you take too much of it.” Whether discussing your health or professional life, balance is important.  If you only hear compliments and never hear criticism, it can have a negative impact on your ability to achieve your goals. If your coach only praised you, how would you have improved or learned the proper techniques?  What feedback could you have used to motivate yourself to become better? Your ability to learn and improve would have been diminished and your growth stunted.

Criticism promotes growth

Constructive criticism or feedback, not abusive or negative comments, helps to make you stronger.  It is essential to understand what you are doing well and what you can do better. The right kind of criticism is honest feedback that identifies areas to improve.  Criticism can boost your productivity and success in life. You must actively seek criticism by asking for feedback from people that you respect and will be honest with you.

Strategies for receiving criticism

  • Identify the right people to receive feedback from. This should be someone who is honest, impartial and wants to see you improve. Perhaps a co-worker, mentor, or an old coach is a good start.

  • Ask specific questions. If you are not specific, you will get general vague answers. Ask the tough questions. For example, Where can I improve on my presentation skills?  What feedback can you provide on my coaching philosophy?

  • Be quiet and listen. It’s easy to become defensive and begin to dispute feedback. Sit back, be quiet and take it all in.  The more points of view the better as it may help identify a recurring theme.

  • Ask clarifying questions. Try to understand first and then process the feedback.

  • Ask for suggestions to improve, but always refer back to your goals.  Ask for suggestions, but make sure they align with you and your family’s goals.  

  • Implement and execute your action plan. Once you have created a plan put your words to action.

Seek criticism over praise and compliments and it will vastly increase your chances to learn, develop and ultimately succeed in all your endeavors.

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