As a yearbook volunteer, you’re part of a process that’s brimming with a whole bunch of different emotions, opinions and personalities. It’s no surprise, then, that knowing how to handle criticism can be a huge help to keeping everyone sane while also helping you improve the yearbook.
Because, inevitably, someone is going to offer unexpected—though probably well-intentioned—criticism of something you or a yearbook team member has done or pitched as an idea.
While it can be difficult to handle criticism when you’ve worked so hard (and so generously), being able to do so is one of the most important (yet least talked about) skills you and your team can have when it comes to creating a yearbook.
Here are three tips for handling criticism like a pro:
How to Handle Criticism Tip 1: Understand the Motivations
Criticism can be hard to receive because it tends to put us on the defensive. When we feel attacked or under appreciated, it’s easy to dismiss feedback that was actually constructive.
So the next time your knee-jerk reaction is to get angry or to defend your actions, take a moment to decide if the comments stem from positive motivations. Constructive criticism is intended to help, not hurt. It comes from someone who wants to see you get it right, even if that means telling you something you don’t want to hear.
When you realize that the critique you’ve received is not intended to upset you, it can be a lot easier to manage. Listen to the feedback, and then ask questions. You don’t have to agree, but understanding the other person’s point of view can help you improve your work.
If you aren’t sure if the critique you’ve received has merit, chat with the yearbook adviser—she’s likely to be honest, and will appreciate the fact that you’re willing to improve.
Still wonder if you’re receiving—or giving—constructive criticism? Get more familiar with the difference.
How to Handle Criticism Tip 2: Listen Carefully
Instead of getting upset or taking criticism personally, focus on remaining open-minded by practicing active listening.
Active listening is one of the best ways to make the person you’re talking to feel heard, and to ensure that you are truly paying attention to what they’re saying.
MindTools offers some active listening techniques that might help:
- Nod occasionally
- Pay attention to your posture, and make sure it’s not defensive
- Use phrases like “What it sounds like you’re saying is…” to make sure you understand the feedback
- Ask questions
- Don’t interrupt
Active listening naturally deescalates tough situations, so you often leave the conversation feeling better than you did before. Even if you don’t agree, you’ve given the person time to voice her concerns, and you have the chance to clear up any confusion.
How to Handle Criticism Tip 3: Find the Benefit
Receiving criticism may feel like a negative event, but it can be a positive. There is a lot you can learn from these types of situations.
Benefits of receiving criticism include:
- Becoming aware of a shortcoming you didn’t know you had, and having the opportunity to correct it
- Developing a closer relationship and better communication with your criticizer
- Learning how to stay calm when dealing with negativity
Need more help looking on the bright side of criticism? These 25 positive outcomes will leave you feeling pretty good about what was previously anguish-inducing.
Your time as a yearbook volunteer is valuable to everyone involved, so don’t let criticism make you feel unappreciated. These simple tips can help you transform a negative experience into a positive one—and leave you feeling even more energized to create the best yearbook yet.