Criticism. If you are doing something, anything, criticism will come knocking at your door like an unwelcome guest. It is uncomfortable to have him around and not easy to get rid of. He lingers around in your house. You lock yourself in your room to not face him sitting and enjoying the coffee in the living room. You then completely stop coming out of your room and everything that is yours is lost. Happened to you? I would be surprised if it hasn’t. I mean, the criticism part, not the guest.
Truth be told, criticism sucks. No, don’t try to convince me otherwise. If it is coming your way, you got to be prepared. Everything that you create or do is dear to you. That is why you get that burning feeling inside when someone says something about your work.
My basic reaction to criticism used to be instant anger, feeling hurt and discouragement. Usually, this ended with abandoning whatever I got criticised for. Over the years, I have learnt certain ways of dealing with it and am proud to say that I can manage constructive criticism. If you are just trying to screw with me with your harsh criticism, then it would mostly result in a fuck you from my side in the form of complete indifference and totally ignoring you then on.
When my brother was very young, like in second grade or so, he wrote a short story. It did not have any logic whatsoever, but what do you expect from a child’s mind. It was good work for his age. One day, when we were all sitting together in the house, my dad passed a comment on the story. So apparently there was this fox which wanted to hurt someone, I do not remember what it was exactly. In order to do so, it threw a stone on a coconut tree nearby and the coconut fell on the other fellow’s head and he was hurt. Dad asked “Wouldn’t it be easier for the fox to just throw the stone directly instead?” That was the last time my brother wrote a story until he reached adulthood and became a writer.
Like with anything else, they come in all forms. Some criticise you because they genuinely care about you, some are unhappy with your success, some are jealous, some want to correct you and some others just like to doit for some unknown reason.
Best response is grace. Next best is silence.
— Vishnu (a great guy)
Yeah, I made that quote up, a good one isn’t it? I knew you’d agree.
Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned.
— Pink (Try)
When it comes to criticism, there are some things we need to understand. Although these are not going to save you from that punch in the gut feeling, they will help you cope better with the whole situation.
1. You are always judged
No matter what you do or how careful you are about living your life, you are always being judged. There is no escape. Accepting this truth is liberating. Less you care about making everyone happy, more you’ll be happy. Take a moment to take this in and move on with what you intend to do.
I have been to lavish weddings where the families have spent a fortune on food and decor. There are these guests who have this one job - just criticise the entire setup. Although their tummies are full, they still leave a comment on how the temperature of the curry was not precisely 78.6°C. These comments invariably make their way back to the hosts and they spend some time being upset that they couldn’t meet the expectations of the guests. Is it worth it? Like really?
2. Bigger the game, more the criticism
When you get criticised more severely, usually it means that you are doing something. More impactful your work, bigger the criticism. It’s a motivating way to look at things. If you are getting more criticism, it means you are doing something that has a bigger impact.
Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.
– Emmet Fox
So if you find someone vehemently criticising what you do, congratulations, you have done something worth remembering.
3. Harsh critics are usually cowards (assholes)
If you notice a pattern with the people who are the harshest critics, the ones who go the extent of hurling expletives and threats are usually cowards. If you are facing online bullying, usually it is from some guy who’s hiding behind an obscure username. He is scared of showing his face or leaves a guest comment on your post. You can straight away ignore these kinds of criticism. Don’t respond to them and if they are commenting on your site, do not think twice about deleting their comments and blocking them. No point wasting your time on these idiots.
Taller grass get chopped down.
The other type of harsh critics are the ones who feel threatened by what you do. Either they feel that you are a competition for them or they feel that inferior to you. Their feedback is seldom constructive because their intention is just to bring you down, make you feel pathetic about whatever you are doing. Don’t heed to their cry. They are like these street dogs you encounter while you walk your dog. They get insecure about their territory and start barking and acting weird. They are just trying to mow you down. Remember, people chop down taller grass to match the shorter ones.
4. Most criticism is irrelevant
Most of the criticism that you face is just noise. They are just irrelevant. People have different opinions, some of them just don’t apply to you. If you try and make everyone happy, you are going to end up unhappy. Do what you need to do, as long as it is not something bad, you’ll always find people who appreciate it. I write this blog not to change the world but because I feel good putting my thoughts out. It is the same with the podcast as well. Every episode requires some amount of research and if no one appreciates, it is an education for me.
Every moment spent focusing on criticism is a moment taken away
Don’t spend too much time brooding over a criticism. It is not worth it. The moment you realise the intention behind it, move on.
5. Reframe the negative as an opportunity
The best way to deal with criticism is to consider as an opportunity. Consider it as a chance to learn and be better. Maybe someone really wants to see you succeed at what you do. In that case, sit down and review the feedback, think over what can be improved or corrected. Once in a while I get feedback on certain podcast episodes, both praising the content and also in some cases, disagreeing with what we talk. I am open to such conversations which are healthy for our podcast and if we find out we goofed up something, we make it a point to correct it either in the show notes or in the next episode.
He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.
– Abraham Lincoln
Since we are not experts or PhD holders in the subjects we talk about, mistakes do happen. This was an expectation we had kept since the beginning and we had expected people to give us feedback. The ones that do are the ones who care about our podcast and who listen to it regularly
Let all the criticism not deter you from creating. Create as you consume. In fact, try and create more than you consume, that’s when you give value.
When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Someone might be criticising me for using so many quotes in this post. But it is okay, they are all relevant. 😉
Also, this is for your haters:
Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.
– Elvis Presley