If I had to choose one thing that humanity is ill-equipped for in modern society, I would instantly choose criticism. Think about it…Over the last 30 years, most parents have spent the majority of their time trying to shelter their children from it; they did everything they could to remove the notion that anyone should stand in opposition to your efforts or opinions. So, everyone got a trophy, and it was the teacher’s fault you didn’t get an A. Sounds like a good plan, right? WRONG!
In fact, the effect has been quite the opposite of good – to the point that we now have an entire generation of adults who are terrified of receiving any type of criticism. Okay…let me step off the soapbox and get practical.
No matter what industry you are in CRITICISM WILL HAPPEN. It’s just a natural part of life. Sooner or later, someone is going to look at something you’ve put a lot of time and effort into and say, “I don’t like that…at all!” And in this moment, you have one of two choices. You can be totally and completely crushed by it, or you can get comfortable with the reality that criticism exists. My advice would be to take the latter road, as it demonstrates a firm grip on reality – and I figure that’s the side we all want to be on, right?
The best thing you can do is learn to get comfortable with criticism. It’s not a question of “if” you will encounter it, it’s a matter of “when” and “how often”. Some deal with criticism daily, and therefore have a greater level of comfort with those feelings of rejection, hurt, and anger. Believe it or not, these are the people that handle it best. Why? Because they have lots of opportunity to practice.
Others try to shelter their work, and their lives, from any kind of tangible feedback to avoid any possibility of potential criticism. As Rex, the toy dinosaur from Toy Story would say, “I don’t like confrontation!” But, that’s no way to live your life, and will certainly lead to failure if you have any desire to start, build, or run a business.
So, that means you need to become comfortable with criticism. How do you do that? Lots and lots of practice, and the best way to start is to go looking for it! So, here’s your homework for this week.
GO DO THIS: The next time you create something, finish a project, give a presentation, or do anything that can tangibly be evaluated, ask 5 people to give you their unbiased feedback – Take a deep breath and brace for impact. But don’t worry, it won’t be nearly as bad as you think it will be. Because you ASKED for it, you’re more prepared for the criticism than when you are caught off guard. Do this several times over a course of months and watch how it changes the way you receive the feedback. You’ll grow more and more comfortable with the process.
This is the first step to making criticism more useful, and less terrifying.