Sometimes the path to improvement starts with letting in feedback.

Isn’t it the best when someone encourages the work that you are doing?

Encouragement can be a great motivator to continue what we’re doing and strive for new heights. When our efforts are met with a positive response, it makes us feel like our energy is well spent.

But what should we do when the response isn’t entirely positive? No one will go through this year without hearing some kind of criticism. At first you might want to rise up and defend yourself immediately. However, we can find a great opportunity for growth if the criticism we are receiving is constructive and from someone—they may be a professor, supervisor at work, or mentor—who knows you well.

Feeling intimidated by constructive criticism is understandable. We want to do well in whatever we choose to spend our time on, and it can feel discouraging to hear about the ways in which we are lacking. However, constructive criticism is valuable in achieving any goal we have.

Sometimes you can’t fully see what is preventing you from getting over areas of weakness like your boss or peer can, and that’s why we need their outside perspective to help us improve. Instead of making excuses about what needs work, ask the person giving you feedback specifically how you can address your deficiencies. You can set small goals to help motivate you to strengthen that area of weakness.

One thing we might not consider when receiving constructive criticism is to be thankful we are receiving it in the first place. Constructive criticism is not meant to tear you down and leave you dismayed. Your supervisor, professor, or peer wants to see you succeed. By giving you constructive criticism, they give you insight on how to strengthen your weaknesses and the resources you need to learn from mistakes.

When we avoid criticism, we might miss out on valuable insight that will make us better at our jobs or the way we behave. Avoiding or dismissing all criticism that comes our way will lead us to pride and stagnate our potential. Be thankful for the people in your life who give you both encouragement and constructive criticism. Even though one feels better to receive than the other, both are essential to growth.