Criticism hurts. That’s just the plain ‘ole truth if you are being honest with yourself.
It hurts especially bad when its directed toward you.
I have learned a few things about criticism in the last few years, especially since entering the music business, and I would like to share my thoughts on the subject:
Step 1: Consider the source.
To me there are two types of criticizers:
A.) The type you respect and admire who are trying to make you and/or your work better. These people are often your encouragers, as well.
B.) The type who enjoy criticizing just to criticize. – There are a myriad of reasons some people fall into category B, but one of the common denominators I have come across is a deeply rooted dissatisfaction within themselves.
Step 2: Practice non-reaction
Meaning, avoid becoming aggressive, or defensive… try and think of what is being said from a 3rd person perspective–take your feelings out of it.
If your source falls into category A… Take a moment to think about what this person is saying to you. I think most of us have a tendency to become defensive when we are criticized, but if the criticism is coming from someone you respect and admire, it may be something you should seriously be considering.
If your source falls into category B… Practicing non-reaction is imperative. Becoming defensive will often just add fuel to the criticizer’s flame, so by calmly avoiding a reaction, you can most likely diffuse any chance of escalation. In these types of situations where peoples’ feelings are on the line, escalating tempers do no good whatsoever. Neither for you or the criticizer.
(Rule of thumb: Ask yourself if what you are about to say is going to result in anything good. If you think it will, then in kindness, say what you need to say. If not, then try and keep it to yourself.)
I know its hard, but try and keep your cool. It will take practice, but you can do anything you put your mind to. 😉
Step 3: Choose to accept or deny.
You can choose whether to accept or deny the criticism. That is a powerful statement. You are in control over acceptance or denial.
When you consider the source and apply non-reaction, it allows your mind time to figure out what your heart is telling you. Your heart is rarely wrong, so listen to what it says.
My experience has been that if a piece of criticism rings true to me, it is usually something I knew I should be doing already, but was not putting into practice. If you deem the criticism to be correct, you can then choose to view it as an opportunity to improve. Be grateful that someone cares enough about you to share their wisdom with you. (Also remember that the people who take the time to give you sound advice and criticism are also the people who believe in you/what you are doing. If they did not believe in you or what you are doing, they wouldn’t waste their time telling you how they think you could be improving.)
On the other hand, if the criticizer is dead wrong, “shake it off” like Taylor Swift. Though their words may sting, it will only poison you if you hold on to them. Let the criticism go, and better yet, send the criticizer light and love. Its amazing what a little kindness will do… for you, and them.
Go Love One Another,