Lately, I have been meeting lots of new people and sharing a lot of my ideas. Mostly this has been through writing (that’s important later). Inevitably, I get to the point where someone begins to give me some feedback. Most of it has been really great, and I have been so encouraged by these experiences. Some of it has been not so encouraging. Through these experiences, I have had too many emotions to name. From disbelief, to feeling inadequate, to frustrated and angry, to relieved. It’s always hard for me to hear any pushback, because my ideas are my babies. They are what point to the deeper part of me that I can’t dismiss.
Here is what I am learning about how to take it:
1. Is it true?
This is the first thing I try to figure out. Is what is being said true? If so, I need to listen very closely. I need to be able to reflect on this criticism and look at myself as honestly as I can. I need to be able to make adjustments and corrections and make the most of this feedback to better myself.
If I decide that it isn’t true I need to move on.Responding may mean simply disagreeing.
If I find there was a misunderstanding I need to try to correct any distortion of the idea. It might mean that my expression of an idea was off and needs correcting. It might also mean that I was clear but they are just not getting it. In every case, I always want to respect the risk people take in criticism and continue the conversation.
2. Is it helpful?
Sometimes criticism is true, but there isn’t much help in it. If it’s not helpful, dismiss the applications of it, but remember to re-examine the idea in the future. For example, someone might not like the idea but respond with sarcasm that doesn’t make clear what they didn’t get or like. If I am being gracious, I can ask them to make their point more clear. I might also decide to let it end there, but then I won’t learn anything.
3. Is it personal?
This one is the hardest for me. Criticism is a snapshot response to one moment in time. This isn’t a declaration of our value, but is a perspective of one moment from one person’s pont of view. I need to be able to hear it and not take it personally.
Unless it is personal. Some people do criticize as a form for elevating their own self value. This is hard to recognize being on the receiving end of criticism. Sometimes when criticism sounds like a cutdown, it might just be. There isn’t much wisdom I have in responding to this, so most of the time I don’t. When I’m at my best, I leave those moments behind.
Any other wisdom in taking criticism?