My generation saw the beginning of participation medals- which has become a symbol to employers of the change in times and attitudes of a new breed of young adults into the workforce. As an intern you'll need to grow thick skin and an elastic heart - Thank you, Sia.
I struggled with accepting criticism early on. I usually went someplace to cry it out because I couldn't help but take it personally. Overtime, I realized if I want to grow and learn I have to be willing to criticize myself and accept criticism without defensiveness; a willingness to overcome whatever barrier someone else saw even if I didn't see it myself. This didn't make me dumb, or incompetent; it made me better. It didn't make me lose points on assignments or look bad to my peers, it helped me to grow into a professional and earn respect.
Expect that your feelings and pride may be hurt by criticism or a bad experience.
But what would be better is to change your perspective on those hurt feelings and "bad" experience.
You will be going through dietitian boot camp.
There's two sides to this story, and in the name of a new perspective you deserve to know both sides.
As a preceptor I want to guide you and teach you, but I also want you to take the reins and be responsible for your learning. I need to know that you can do this stuff on your own and I'm signing off on an intern who, at the end of their rotation, is truly ready to take on the job of RD. While I'm not looking to intentionally hurt your feelings, sometimes even constructive criticism can hurt. And while your feelings matter, the health of my patients and reputation of myself and my organization matter more. There is a fine line though, you NEVER deserve to be treated badly or taken advantage of for your "free labor".. because you are not free labor. You are not a punching bag. You are not stupid. And you are not a child. Any preceptor who treats you in this manner is in the wrong.
Onward to changing your perspective.
If you receive some harsh criticism it's okay to remove yourself from the situation to roll the situation around in your mind for some time.
You may be defensive at first..... I STRONGLY encourage you not to voice that knee jerk defensiveness. Take a minute to let yourself feel the defensiveness then mentally remove yourself from the situation. Take 10 deep breaths to create a boundary between your anger/hurt/defensiveness and your objective/calm/self-reflection. This is your mental detox moment. Dump all that bad ju-ju and refresh your mindset. Look at it as if you had seen someone else do it.
- Would you arrive at the same conclusion as your critique?
- What information do you have that maybe your preceptor doesn't and vice versa? Maybe she/he didnt know that you had discussed this way of completing this particular task with a different preceptor.
- Once you understand the preceptor's perspective, do you find that you agree with the critique? Or understand the perspective? If you don't agree that what you did was "wrong", do you agree that the criticism brought to light a different or better way of completing that task? If you don't agree that what you did what "wrong" the difference between your task and their expectations is what I would discuss with your preceptor.
Approach your learning as a team effort. If you played sports growing up you were probably critiqued by your coach. In this setting it doesn't seem to set off as much defensiveness because everyone on the team gets criticism and adjustments to their play so that together the team can improve. Also, sports aren't as connected to our intelligence as an internship will be, and sometimes criticism can elicit defensiveness because we are afraid of looking dumb or incompetent.
One way I over came my issue with criticism was actually very simple: I asked for help.
I practiced putting myself in the vulnerable position instead of the superior position of the person who knows exactly what they are doing and doesn't need anyone's help, and I'm a perfectionist, how dare you tell me this isn't perfect. I just started asking questions and for help on things.
This gave me the chance to practice receiving commentary on equal ground rather than being in an interns position of student-teacher with a grade hovering over my head. I asked peers for their opinion on things I was working on, asked them how they would do something differently, and asked them to look over assignments when I became more comfortable.
Eventually I started asking for criticism. I let my superiors know I wanted criticism, that I wanted to do things better and I couldn't do that without feedback. This was another step This changes the dynamic because its the teamwork approach again. In this scenario I'm asking for help to make something better, versus criticism that "wasn't asked for" and hurts my perception of my work-- which is what we're working to overcome right?
When you begin your internship, begin with the understanding that as an intern you have signed a pact with your preceptors that you are continuously asking for help to make things better. If it helps you cope with criticism get in the habit of being the first to speak up "How did I do? Is there something I could have done better?" This helps to nip the defensiveness before it begins since you are approaching it from a teamwork perspective. A good preceptor will be very willing to discuss strengths and weaknesses and maybe even help brainstorm how to make your work even BETTER for next time, whether this time was excellent or if it was slightly off and needed some work. But again, the two of you are working towards a common goal with this approach rather than one probing the other to be better-- this isn't a fun position to be in as a preceptor either. If your preceptor's push you its because they know how awesome you are capable of being. Be thankful they are willing to put so much responsibility on your shoulders and are willing to challenge you.