Corporate travel managers manage communication between travel vendors and the finance departments, clients, and executives. When so much of their day is spent communicating, writing, and negotiating, there’s plenty of room for feedback—some of which can be negative. Corporate travel managers are often blamed for the constraints of a reduced budget, among other things, so they learn to deal with negative comments over time.
Whether you’ve already developed a thick skin over the course of your career or if you’re hoping to become a more receptive employee, everyone can improve how he or she receives criticism in a professional setting. Here’s how to cope with criticism in a healthy manner:
- Be Confident in Your Abilities
Maintain a positive self-image and don’t allow negative feedback to define you. If an individual in the workplace comments on your abilities, it’s simply perception. Use your progress and growth in your professional skill set to gauge how you’ve improved. Feedback can be a barometer for growth, but don’t allow particularly negative criticism to affect how you view yourself. As actress and comedian Jenny Slate puts it, “You are the constant, and your own opinion of yourself is what matters most.”
- Examine Exterior Factors
People can say hurtful or overly harsh things during tense situations. It’s an unfortunate reality, but nearly everyone has encountered unprofessional behavior from management at one point or another. If you receive feedback that seems unnecessarily harsh, remember that outside factors can affect the way your manager interacts with his or her team. They may be having a terrible day for whatever reason, and their words might not be connected to your performance at all.
- Master the Art of Selective Listening
Many creative professionals have mastered the art of “selective listening.” For musicians, artists, chefs, and others in similar jobs, learning to filter out feedback that’s negative without being constructive is necessary. In the words of award-winning, Portland-based chef Andy Ricker, “I can't always accommodate everyone's desires and expectations.” Corporate travel managers know this: They are well-versed with situations in which compromise isn’t possible, and they’re used to saying “no” to keep the company’s budget or policies intact.
- Find the Truth in What They’re Saying
It’s natural to channel negative feedback into feelings of depression, hurt, or anger. And it’s true that the words chosen, the presentation style, or timing may be all wrong. But you should examine what’s said for truth. While defiance can be a motivator, objectively examining the feedback and applying what you’ve learned will make you a far more valuable employee.
- Focus on Something Good About the Person
Even the most experienced professionals can find themselves slipping into negative thoughts about a colleague who delivered negative feedback. There is little benefit in fixating on perceived flaws in their character, personality, or communication style. Doing so can also have a negative effect on the rest of your day. Don’t let personal feelings take over your productivity for hours after the conversation. To alleviate stress, find something positive to focus on about the person who is speaking to you - even something as simple as their shoes or nail polish color.
Focusing on the positive may actually alleviate stressful situations. Psychotherapist Dr. Elayne Savage, author of “Don’t Take it Personally! The Art of Dealing With Rejection”, says so herself. Negative thoughts can cause you to “relay fear or dread with your eyes and/or body language -- and that will make the critique more likely to happen.” The age-old saying “Think happy thoughts” might be more valuable than we ever realized.
How to Cope with Criticism
*Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2013, however it has since been updated to reflect the most recent information.
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