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What can I do to improve?  It’s a question we should all ask more often.

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Constructive criticism is essential to professional development. Change is a constant, and smart career professionals are always working to improve themselves, build skills and their experience.

Here are some ways that constructive criticism can assist professional development.

An Objective Pair of Eyes

When you create a product or content piece, you often want to have someone weigh in on it. That’s why there are editors and peer review processes. The same can be true for your career. An outside, impartial person can tell you what your strengths are, and where you could improve.

Who should you ask for objective help?

Request a monthly meeting with a colleague or mentor from another company, someone who doesn’t know you personally. Family and friends tend to sugar-coat it and not always on purpose. Let’s face it- giving objective feedback isn’t easy to do, especially if it’s for someone you really care for. 

A Question of Contrast

Are you isolated from others in your industry? It may be hard to tell where you stand unless you start to solicit outside opinions. When you receive constructive criticism, you can start to understand more about your role in contrast to other people in similar job roles.

After talking others in your field, you may learn about new software or shortcuts that could streamline your process, improving your efficiency. On the other hand, you may find you’re light-years ahead of your peers and see an opportunity to teach others. Perhaps you decide to offer monthly webinars or podcasts as a means of additional income?

Either way, you’ve gained insight to improve or help others improve. When you help others, they won’t hesistate to return the favor in the future. Not to mention, you’ve expanded your network in the process. 

Brush Up on Presentation Skills

Constructive criticism can also help with pinpointing the presentation issues that may be stopping you from achieving 100% of your potential. Get a presentation partner and ask them to watch you present. In turn, do the same for them. While it may be scary putting yourself out there, the rewards will be well worth it.

After you’ve collected notes from your presentation partner, go home and practice in front of the mirror. Try giving your presentation to your family, a friend or your neighbor, etc. Practice, practice, practice.

Fitness instructor, Jillian Michaels, says, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Eventually, what was hard becomes easy. Before you know it, you’ll be the one everybody goes to for presentation advice.

Keep Yourself Sharp

You may have heard things like “iron sharpens steel” or the general idea that being exposed to criticism makes somebody better at doing whatever they do. And there’s a lot to be said for that.

So, don’t be a passive reviewer. That doesn’t do much for yourself, your colleagues or you employer. If you see something a colleague could improve, tell them. Approach it the way you’d like to receive constructive criticism. Start off with their strengths. Then tell them where they can improve- be specific and give actionable advice. Lastly, add what positive results can happen if they act on your feedback.

 

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