When People Get Critical

I will freely admit that I am not good at accepting criticism. I’m better than I was 20 years ago, and better than even 10 years ago; I get a little better every year, I think. But I still don’t like it – accepting it cheerfully is all an act. But I continue to press myself to be better, and here’s why.

Criticism is a gift.

We all live in a physical world, surrounded by other people. Most of our success depends on their perception of our performance, not our perception. Even if I think I’m amazing, that does no good if everyone around me thinks I’m an unproductive jerk. So criticism is a gift, given to you by someone else. What you do with hat gift is up to you.

Thing is, a lot of people are less-than-skilled at giving gifts. I mean, if I wrapped ups gold bar and chucked it at your head, you’d happily take it, but you’d probably still be pretty pissed at me, right?

Criticism is the same thing. It isn’t always delivered with a lot of compassion. In fact, the reason a lot more people don’t give criticism is because of how poorly it’s usually received. So we’re all taking the one thing that could help us objectively improve others’ perceptions of us, and shutting it down before we even see it.

So stop worrying about the package that the gift was brought in, or the person who brought it, or even the intent of the gift. Take it, set it aside until your feelings don’t feel so hurt, and then scrape out whatever teachable moments you can. A single piece of criticism might not be call for your entire life to change, but it can certainly inform your other decisions. It might not have been brought in the nicest wrapping paper, but you can take the gift for what you want it to be, regardless.

About the Author

Don Jones is a well-known technology speaker, author, and practitioner, with dozens of books, years of magazine articles, and hundreds of lectures under his belt. He's also a business leader, and authors books on business, learning, and instructional design at Leanpub.com/u/donjones. "Be the Master," the third edition of Don's book on achieving success and helping others, has been changing the lives of people all over the world.