Recently, I have found myself in a vicious cycle. After either writing, editing, or publishing a written piece, I ask friends and colleagues what they think of my work. They almost always give me a truthful answer, but when it comes to the negative feedback and critique, I just don’t want to hear it. Whether I actually think the comments are valid or not, I found myself thinking “why do I even bother asking at all if I don’t want actual opinions?” After sitting down in a moment of reflection, I was able to draw up a list of checkpoints to help take feedback with grace and ease.
Ask yourself, “Do I really want an opinion?” before reaching out
This may be the hardest part for some people (especially me). Do you actually want encouragement and praise, or real feedback that will help you in your current state? If the answer was encouragement and praise, consider opting out of asking for critique until you are ready to listen to the other person and take it well.
Have specific questions in mind when asking for feedback
Sometimes, it’s best to have specific questions in mind that you’d like help with and get going from these specific points.
– “Does this character seem too flat?”
– “Is my form correct when I get into this pose?”
– “Could the writing be a little bit more developed in this area?”
Having already pinpointed what you want help with and asking specific questions, helps to alleviate broad critique that may make you upset. If you know exactly what you want help with, friends and colleagues can tailor their answers accordingly.
After you are ready to hear what the other person has to say (whether good or bad) and have specific questions ready, genuinely listen to the comments that are presented. Try to listen without interrupting, and absorb the comments that are being made. Once the person is finished speaking, you can ask follow-up questions regarding points that the speaker made. Don’t lash out, get defensive about your work, or try to justify why the person is “wrong.” Graciously take these comments and process them for a few moments. If something was unclear, gently ask them what prompted the critique or ask for clarification.
Realize that feedback and critique makes you stronger in your craft
Whether it’s yoga, writing, cooking, and everything in between, criticism makes you better at what you do. Someone can always give you pieces of advice to make you in your particular craft stronger, and ultimately, it’s these nuggets of wisdom that help in the long term 🙂
Remember that critique is not personal but know when to stand your ground
Critique, for the most part, is never personal. While sometimes difficult to stomach–because you work hard at what you do!–most people do not mean the words to hurt. However, sometimes many people can cross the line into upsetting or sensitive territory. When this does happen, you can always graciously thank the person for their comments, but that you don’t feel that they were appropriate. I’m looking at you, mom.
What do you think, dumplings? How do you handle criticism and feedback?
Related: How to Be a Better Listener
Also by Karina: Vegan Crab Cakes Brunch
Photo: Send me adrift. via Flickr