Caregiver Blog: How to Handle Criticism Like a Pro

Article Categories: Caregiver Corner & Legal and Ethical Issues

No matter how badly you want your tasks done perfectly or how proud you are of your work as a caregiver, someone is bound to see imperfections. It’s human nature to notice the mistakes of others, so it shouldn’t surprise you!

For leaders, giving criticism is a part of their job. They are tasked to look for areas that need improvement and you may need to hear about a few of your weaknesses as well as advice on how to handle improvements.

Criticism is the act of giving your opinion or judgment. This can be about someone’s attitude, behavior, other qualities, or the way they work. If done constructively, to correct or prevent an error, or improve the work, criticism can do wonders for everyone involved including you, the patient, and the agency, home, or hospital where you work. But, when done poorly, or to bully or belittle a coworker, criticism can kill morale and dampen team spirit.

In the workplace, both constructive and hurtful criticism can take place, and there are different ways to handle these situations.
First of all, you have to learn how to tell them apart:

Constructive

a. Done privately
b. Starts with the purpose of the criticism
c. Focuses on changing behavior or correcting mistakes
d. Matter-of-fact, saying what is directly observed, e.g., "The bathrooms weren’t cleaned yesterday," instead of "You're so incompetent!"
e. Uplifts and encourages at the end of the discussion
f. Uses a neutral or appropriate tone

Hurtful

a. Confronts within hearing distance of others
b. Starts with your mistakes and overemphasizes them
c. Focuses on blame and accusations
d. Uses hurtful words such as “incompetent” or “useless”
e. Meant to embarrass you
f. Uses a negative or loud tone

For both situations, keep a level head and a calm approach. Keep hold of your emotions for a second and do a simple self-check. Is the criticism constructive or hurtful? If it’s a form of bullying, then use anti-bullying tactics.

1. When criticism comes as constructive feedback, pay attention.

Listen carefully to the message and try to disregard the tone. Supervisors, nurses, and doctors who oversee caregivers also have a lot on their plates and are often stressed out, too, so they may be a little short when talking to you. Let it pass and focus on the message instead.

2. Don’t take it personally.

It’s not a blow to your character as a person and it’s meant to maintain a safe work environment. If it hurts your ego, keep it together and don’t let your emotions get the better of you.

3. Take turns talking.

Avoid the temptation to interrupt their point with excuses, to avoid a heated confrontation. Do your best to actively listen and focus on their good intentions.

4. Look at the situation from your critic’s point of view and acknowledge what is being said.

Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand where they’re coming from. Reflect on the situation and what they need from you. If they mean well, you’ll be able to tell.

5. Ask how you can do things differently.

There’s nothing wrong with being direct and asking exactly how you can do better at work. It’s the first step on the road to improving yourself.

6. Work on a solution.

Ask yourself the following questions:

“What do I need to do to prevent this mistake from happening again?”
“How can I improve my work?”
“How should I respond the next time something similar happens?”

7. Move on.

Your supervisor might have seen a few errors on your part and requested some changes, but you don't have to sulk because someone has pointed out a weakness. It's an opportunity for growth and new beginnings!

Handling criticism like a pro is a sign of maturity. As a caregiver, always look at constructive feedback as something to help keep patients safe and improve your skills. Genuinely hurtful criticism should be taken as bullying and must be dealt with appropriately.


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