“Don’t pay attention to the critics. Don’t even ignore them.”
The man who said that was Samuel Goldwyn, a big-time Hollywood producer and one of the pioneers of the movie industry. He knew a thing or two about marketing movies, and a thing or two about making quality movies, but he was savvy enough to realize that some movies would be loved despite being trashed by critics. He could wait patiently to see if these movies didn’t find an appreciative audience.
Should we follow Goldwyn’s advice? It’s a popular idea, and tempting to say yes, to take a self-assertive approach as an expression of our independence and confidence. Of course, some critics deserve to be ignored, but can’t we end up being unnecessarily defensive if we adopt that view?
A better attitude might be, “Take your critics seriously, but don’t take them personally.” This means that when we are given critical feedback, we consider it, stay aware that the critic may have a personal agenda and lack objectivity, but use what is constructive for our plans while discarding the rest. We also need to maintain an open mind so that we don’t miss something valuable, which the critic is aware of, but which we are not.
So, what are some ideas for approaching criticism reasonably without getting your back up needlessly? Here are a few basics.
- Take the time to listen thoroughly, explaining yourself only after you’ve done so.
- Don’t jump to the conclusion that you are being personally attacked. This is especially true if you are criticized about something near and dear to your heart.
- Keep calm (even if the other person isn’t) and be reasonably polite.
- Ask questions to clarify the other person’s point of view, how it was arrived at so you may determine if there is a real basis for the critique.
- Be prepared to own your mistakes, take responsibility and correct them.
It isn’t always easy to accept someone else’s evaluation. While some people get defensive and lose the benefit of a perspective that could be helpful, there are also those who accept all criticism without question. A balanced approach is best. If you think that the source of criticism isn’t sincerely interested in helping, you can be outwardly considerate, but take the feedback with a grain of salt. It’s not worth it to let your emotions get the better of you and ruin your day!