Handling Criticism

I have to admit that I’ve never been very good at receiving criticism. Growing up it was laid on thick with no regard to how it would make me feel. As I got older, I didn’t know how to handle it. I took it very personally and when I felt it was coming, I’d put my guard up. The problem is, it was detrimental to me. Instead of being open to the feedback that could help me improve, I’d do the adult version of sticking my fingers in my ears and humming so I couldn’t hear or receive the message. 

I’m now at a point in my life that I’ve learned how to receive it and I want to share how with you. The first thing I do is identify it. Is it constructive feedback or is it nasty criticism. For me, there is a difference. Constructive feedback comes from a place that someone is offering their point of view in a way that can help me improve in some way. It might not always feel good to hear but they raise a point that genuinely deserves my attention to address. Nasty criticism to me is when someone is trying to tear me down. Not only is what they share hurtful but there’s no intention of me growing from the feedback. 

I automatically toss out nasty criticism because there’s nothing I can do with it. I can’t grow from it and I can’t fight it. It makes me feel bad for the person because I’ve learned it’s how they approach and treat the world in general. When it comes to constructive feedback, I qualify my sources. If it’s something I see an immediate benefit in, I’ll find ways to improve or implement the suggestion. If I’m not sure, I’ll qualify the source. Is the feedback coming from someone who cares about me? Someone on my team and has a vested interest in seeing me excel? Is it a friend or family member whose opinion I trust and value? Is it from someone who is in the same creative space as I am? Do they genuinely want to see me do better? Is it for someone who doesn’t care for me? Asking myself these questions helps me to get perspective and decide how to move forward.

Another thing I do is take time to process it. Sometimes it hurts whether it’s constructive or not. The best thing I can do is allow myself to feel that sting, tend to it, and figure out how to heal it. Once I’ve cleaned my wounds, the pain doesn’t run as deep and I can make a decision that isn’t based on my hurt feelings. As a creative especially, I can’t escape criticism. Putting myself out there means there will always be people that don’t like what I do. The good thing is, I don’t do things for people to like them, I share pieces of me that they can interpret for themselves. So sometimes it’s a matter of accepting that not everyone will like me or what I do, but being able to be true to who I am and move forward anyway.

When it comes to giving feedback, I personally like to be as thoughtful and gentle as possible while speaking my truth. At the end of the day, most of the feedback I offer is a matter of opinion, not technical facts. I always check my tone first and foremost. I make sure to share my feedback from a place of love. This helps me to choose my words wisely in hopes the person receives it in the same loving way I’m sharing it. I also love using the sandwich method in which I share something I liked, followed by what can be improved, and closing with something I love. This happens to be how I usually receive constructive feedback best.

Whether you have a hard time giving or receiving constructive feedback (or both), I hope you find this helpful. For all of my fellow creatives, I wanted to share one of my favorite no-nonsense videos that helped me put my plan into action when I first started working on receiving constructive criticism. I’ve marked the video to begin where it gets right to the point but the whole video is well worth the watch!

What are your thoughts on this? Can you relate? Did you watch the video? What did you think? What spoke to you most in this post and video? I’d love to hear, feel free to share in the comments! ❤


21 Replies to “Handling Criticism”

  1. I like the way she describes things. I feel like there are other parts that needs seats..our own joy, courage, strength, intelligence…they should get all seats as well. Thanks for sharing this. She makes life make sense.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful!!! Yes I agree many people don’t take criticism positively but the fact is one should to get yourself polished and helps in lowering ego issues too.. that’s my belief😊. Secondly, I suppose criticism given in positive note is more effect full and not in sarcasm note..
    I really loved your post!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I thought it was important to address both giving and receiving criticism. If there’s one thing I love about my kids, it’s their ability to tell it like it is. They know just how to keep you in check and they deliver their truth without any malice or bad intentions. Kids crack me up! So when I think about giving it, I try to take children’s approach to tell the truth in a way that isn’t hurtful.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think I was quite afraid of criticism and failure when I was in school. I didn’t even realize it until my advisor gently pointed it out when he noticed I would mainly sign up for the “safe” courses, which really got me thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting… What a great observation on behalf of your adviser! Have you found yourself finding ways to step out of your comfort zone? It can be scary but that’s where amazing things happen! Two things I know for sure, we have to fall in order to learn to walk and even though we can’t escape criticism, it helps us grow. I encourage you to find ways to stop playing it safe. In my experience, I didn’t really start to live until I stopped playing in my comfort zone. ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I did try to step out of my comfort zone after that conversation and actually changed majors and tried different courses. You’re right, we don’t grow inside our comfort zones. Thank you. You give wonderful advice.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, that explains why my armor lies in pieces at my feet! I’ve never lost my vulnerability or my capacity to care. Yeah, I end up getting hurt sometimes, but it’s who I am. I keep running into the arena because that’s where the action is, and I want to be involved in life–especially my life.

    Thanks so much for sharing Brene Brown’s uplifting video, Niki. Plan to do the same. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s amazing Linda! I definitely lost my ability to be vulnerable for many years. It’s only been in the more recent years I’ve been able to allow myself to be vulnerable.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this video and glad you’re such a gladiator! ❤


      1. Likewise dear Niki, it is not easy if you do not have the tools to help you on your journey through no fault of your own but the legacy of life. Rebuilding takes time and effort, others supporting you can help you know you are not doing it in vain or alone. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree. I’d love to encourage you to check out my book. While the focus is on helping people with depression, there are a couple of chapters you might find of particular interest. Tools and exercises included 💖

        Liked by 1 person

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