Maxie is one of those super close friends that I have with whom I can share anything with. She’s been the first to hear great news countless times. She has heard me cry, brainstorm, and vent. She’s been a cheerleader, a support system, a sounding board, and a constructive critic. I’ve done the same for her. Through Skype, texts, in person and from around the world. I trust her wholeheartedly and when she says, “this is great!”, I believe her. And when she says, “I think you could do better,” I also believe her.
What to Do with Criticism
Guest post by Maxie McCoy
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has judgements. And most everyone has criticism of something. Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s out there. From the comments on your blog post to the feedback on your essay from your professor – sometimes you get really awesome critiques of your work and sometimes you get criticism.
Negative feedback can be hard to handle. I’ve had managers tell me things that punched me in my gut, best friends that have made me cry, professors who have ripped apart my work, and trolls who sh*t on my writing. Some of it has made me better. Some of it has made me cry. It’s something that every one of us has to deal with. And with that comes the ability to handle it. Criticism can be a tool that helps us grow, both as humans and in our own work, and it can also be something that completely holds us back if we obsess over it and take every little bit to heart.
You’re going to get criticism. And when you do, before letting it ruin your whole day or your whole week, follow these filters to see if it’s something you should immediately let go of or begin to act upon:
Not all criticism is valid
You do not have to listen to all the criticism you get. Just because someone has an opinion of you or your work doesn’t make it true. Consider who it is that’s being the critic: are they credible? Do you genuinely value their opinion? Do their comments resonate with you deep down? If not, if this person “isn’t in the arena” as Theodore Roosevelt would say and is just trying to hold you down or hold you back, let the criticism go. Call a friend, go to a movie, do something that makes you happy and let it go.
View it as feedback
Sometimes, though, there will be criticism that comes through from a manager, a parent, or a friend that is tough to handle but is totally valid. Maybe they think you don’t listen very well or that you turned in a half-hearted assignment, it still won’t feel good (criticism never does) but it will be an opportunity – an opportunity to be better. an opportunity to grow. An opportunity to expand. You get to where you want to go by having brave souls willing to give you the tough love. The best thing you can do when you know their criticism is valid, is start doing something about it. Create an action plan that helps you work on the criticism you received.
Use it as a mirror
Often, there will be criticism that is just mean. It’ll be the kind that feels like middle school gossip or slambooks that you shouldn’t have heard or read but did. It’ll make your stomach drop. It might even bring you to tears. But what you have to remember in those moments is that there will be some things people say that roll right off your back because you could care less. You’re confident and proud in whatever area they were talking crap about. But then some criticism will leave you fumbling. It’ll really hurt. When it hurts, try to use it as a mirror to your own insecurities. Not that you should fix whatever they said, because you’re perfect just as you are. But that you see it as the place that you can work on your own confidence. It’ll be a mirror to show you where you have the most work to do to feel confident and secure. Which everyone one of us should feel!
If you’re still holding on
When you hold onto criticism and keep repeating it, rethinking it, or cycling it through your mind, you’ve got to find a way to stop. Criticism, valid or not, isn’t meant to be on repeat. But so often that’s exactly what we do. We always hold onto the bad and forget about the good. I can guarantee that any criticism you’ve gotten, you’ve probably had three compliments about that same thing. So, if you find yourself only remembering the bad stuff, write out the three good things people have said to you. Put it on a post it note or on your mirror. And keep reading it until the bad stuff eventually falls to the wayside.
Remember, the more you can separate valid criticism from just plain mean stuff, the more you’ll be able to confidently go after your dreams.