Writer-Carla circa 2000.
As a healthy living community we rarely chat about the learned skill of taking CRITICISM.
We’ve focused on the importance of accepting a compliment gracefully.
I’ve yammered how deflecting or diminishing a nicety denigrates the giver (never our intent).
We all too infrequently discuss how much better (take my word for it) and easier (yes! yes!) life is when you DON’T amble through it internalizing criticism as life-ending critique.
(didn’t like my book? no worries!)
For me acquiring the skill has been a process.
The ability to hear, integrate, and not grow defensive as a result of constructive criticism has helped me grow (as a writer. as a sister, mother, wife, friend.) and deepened bonds of trust in all my relationships.
(you dislike my body-art? that’s ok!)
The ability to assimilate criticism well is a learned skill.
I’d never considered the fact it’s not innate until it came time to teach an uber-sensitive 7 year old about the importance of graciously accepting thoughts/ideas she may *not* wish to hear.
In attempting to explain the concept of constructive criticism to her dawned on me how like a muscle it is.
Taking criticism with aplomb is a trait we need to build *and* keep strengthened in order to maintain (OOOH fitness tie-in!).
Before I share my tips it bears clarifying I’m operating on the assumption our criticism-profferer is an individual whose opinion we value/are compelled to value. A loved-one, family member, friend, boss etc.
4 Tips For Taking Criticism Without Breaking a Sweat:
1. Don’t be a 7 year old. This is the most basic of tips–yet the most commonly done. Don’t lash back at the criticizer. As we’ve talked about with compliments take a moment and sit with the uncomfortable words. Do not reflexively reciprocate with criticism of your own.
2. Listen. Internalize. Do a body-check. Ask yourself where you feel the *stress* of the critical words? Neck? Pit-of-stomach? Shoulders? Work the mind/muscle connection & focus on relaxing those areas during & after the criticism-experience. Physical relaxation serves to lessen the mental-stress of the critique.
3. “If this weren’t ME…” Step back & ask yourself what you’d think if the words were *not* directed toward you. I do this with criticism of my writing. I pause, read critiques through lens of Reader NOT Writer & gauge my reaction. The majority of the time my response becomes one of Oh yes! That does improve my message.
4. Remind yourself imperfections do *not* make you a failure. Progress not perfection. No one is perfect or is born with the ability to receive criticism without breaking
stride. When I offer Tornado constructive criticism she & I also chat about how my parents “helped” me in this fashion. We discuss how striving to smooth our rough edges or imperfections does NOT make us failures.
(learning to take criticism well is a process)
I cannot emphasize enough how learning to take constructive criticism without defensiveness has helped me grow.
And, if said growth isn’t motivation enough for you freelance-writer types, editors adore working with me because they know I welcome suggestions
without doing number one above.
That’s never a bad thing.
- When you’re on the receiving end of constructive criticism how do YOU respond?