What do you do when someone gives you critical feedback?

Do you blow it off? Do you think, "Ah, they just don't get it."

Or worse off, do you attack them in return?

These are natural reactions. After all, you've invested yourself into your work, and now someone is telling you it's not good enough.

But here's the thing: You need critical feedback. It's the only way to improve.

In EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence, I liken critical feedback to a freshly mined diamond. That rock may be ugly to the naked eye. But after the cutting and polishing process, its value is clear.

Criticism is like that unpolished diamond: It's ugly--at first. But the vast majority of the time, that ugliness will be rooted in truth. And even if it's not, it can still help you improve--because it'll help you better understand how others perceive your work, allowing you to adapt if necessary.

You need to become a diamond cutter. You need to take the raw, unpolished diamond and turn it into something beautiful--by transforming that criticism into a learning experience.

So, how do you do that, exactly?

It's not as hard as you think. In fact, it takes only one sentence.

So, how can you rein in your emotions and get the most out of critical feedback? 

Whenever you receive criticism, respond with this:

Thanks for expressing your thoughts. Give me a day or so to process this and I'll respond.

This technique works because you typically have two reactions to criticism.

There's the first reaction, the emotional one.

Then, there's the second reaction, the more rational one. 

It takes time to get to the second reaction, which is why it helps to wait at least 24 hours before responding.

Of course, if you're the one delivering critical feedback, you should also do so with emotional intelligence. That involves considering your audience and crafting your message in a way that that they will see it as an attempt to help, not harm. (More on how to deliver emotionally intelligent feedback here.)

But if you're on the receiving end, you don't have that luxury. You can take the criticism as-is and learn from it. Or you can miss an opportunity to improve.

Most persons choose the latter by default. Don't be one of those persons. 

Instead, be a diamond cutter--and transform critical feedback into something invaluable.