How to take criticism

Do you make something? Create a fine piece of pottery, declare your presence to the world through writing, speak to the camera for a living, sing to heal the world with your melody, put your best foot forward to bring something to the table, paint your vision on a piece of canvas, or anything I may have left out?

Well, then you may have come across this little thing called criticism. I call it ‘little' because I’ve come across it countless times. I used to think it was big because I was looking at it the wrong way. We crossed the same path because I kept trying to create something and still do. Sometimes it shows up when I’m not aware, like this one time I created a sloppy trailer for the book I was writing. I wasn’t expecting to bump into it because I never thought anyone would bother watching it, but it still came. It showed up. It knocked on my door and I answered.

I still don’t have all the answers, but I know a great number of people may meet criticism and wonder how to respond to it. How to react. It can be awkward or downright uncomfortable but it shouldn’t be hard. You have to own up to it.

The one thing that matters when taking criticism is to let it speak to you. Don’t shut it out. This is the only way you can tell whether it’s constructive or it’s just pointless rubbish from an opinionated jerk. A good example is how Steve Jobs famously responded to a critique towards Apple’s decisions around the late nineties. A time when the company was in serious trouble. An audience member delivered a heated question and this is how he handled it.

People criticize because they see something wrong with what you do, your job is to filter, and see how you can fix it.

Be open to what criticism says and let it become a part of how you grow. Let it ruminate. Identify the cause for that person’s call to the problem. Maybe you overused a filter for your video, maybe your tone went of balance, maybe the work you’re putting on your job could be made easier, and maybe your painting could use a little tweak. It’s in the little details we miss, and when we don’t see it we redirect that energy towards the wrong efforts.

Be open to it. Don’t let it drown you and force you to utter the typical dismissal statement: “haters gonna hate.” Let it work to your advantage and allow yourself to be the master of your own work.


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