I got some true blue criticism this week, and at first I didn’t feel like I handled it very well. Now, after a day, the dust is settling and I feel much better. I feel like I found some good steps to help me work through the process. In today’s post, I want to reflect on that experience.
I don’t want to share all the gory details for everyone, so I’ll give you a quick overview so you can track the progression of this post. I recently wrote an article for a journal. I spent hours laboring over the article. The article was prophetic in nature so I knew not everyone would be onboard. I felt proud of the finished product. When I got my peer reviews back, it was very negative about my thoughts and my style.
Thus, I’m not talking about the general criticism that all of us bloggers get. Here’s an unsubscribe message I had this week:
its too much fill my inbox …little boring
By the way, my favorite unsubscribe message was that my articles are about as boring as watching mud dry
What should you do when you are criticized?
Always consider the source of the criticism.
I can typically brush off criticism from readers simply because I don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who I am. Of the however-many-billion people in the world, some are bound to be socially dysfunctional, misguided, critical, and wrong. That’s their problem – not mine.
The problem with the criticism I got this week was that it was from a trusted source. A person who has credibility in the field.
Realize you can’t make everyone happy.
That line is easy for me to write and hard for me to do. I like to make people happy.
But, once again we must remind ourselves that, as part of God’s design, we cannot please everyone because people are pleased by different things.
Some people hear someone confront another person, and they feel like it was too aggressive and/or too harsh. Others sit back, smile, and say ‘amen’. Later in life, one person will say they are what they are because someone pushed them. Others will say they quit because someone pushed them.
I was watching a video done by Aweber. Ramit Sethi said he considers it a good thing when someone unsubscribes from his blog. It simply means his abrasive writing style doesn’t appeal to that reader. He’d rather have readers who are onboard with his style than readers who constantly criticize and argue against what he is doing. I love that idea. It recognizes that you are not going to appeal to everyone. Not everyone will like you.
Always consider the criticism before you reject it.
Like any pompous fool, my first thought was to fight back. Hey, my article isn’t saying that or meaning that. I stewed for several minutes. Then I printed up the email. I printed up my article. I highlighted the main concerns from the email. Then I prayed (a very, very important step). I asked God to let me see what sections of my article needed to be changed. Then I read through my article referring back to the criticisms.
In the end, I found out that the criticisms were valid. I should have phrased things in a better way to make my statements more clear, less general, and less judgmental.
Involve a third party.
When you enter into any disagreement or conflict, something happens to your psyche, and the world automatically shrinks to involve nothing more than you and this issue. However, this severely impacts your ability to think honestly about information.
As a result, I emailed some friends and said, ‘”This is what I wrote. This is what they said. What do you think?” This goes back to “the source of the criticism”. Though the person is a trusted source in the field, I know no one is infallible. As such, I wanted people I know and trust to help me identify the key areas of the article that need to be altered.
Guess what? The feedback was almost the exact same. Somehow, I failed miserably at what I was attempting to do. Whatever I was intending to write was not communicated.
Now it’s time to make improvements.
I will have a better finished product when this article is done. If I had gone to print with the article as is, I would have opened myself up to a lot of justifiable criticism. However, the criticism of a few has allowed me to tie up some of those loose ends to be sure that I don’t give any room for misinterpretations or false assumptions.
What do you do when you receive criticism? How do you appropriately deal with it?