I used to be horrible at handling criticism — mostly because I always felt like no one understood my thought processes and essentially, I felt constantly attacked. All it this is correlates with having dAnd to be frank, I just wasn’t comfortable sharing my ideas. I always thought that I’d be judged and/or ridiculed for having all these thoughts that never seemed to end. Then, I met a good friend who shared all her dreams with me — no matter how small or bizarre.
If a few years ago, someone told me that I’d be comfortable sharing my ideas today, I wouldn’t have believed them. Learning to get actively involved and sharing my ideas openly was not an easy feat. I climbed over mountains of self-consciousness (and nail-biting anxiety), blasted through thick walls of criticism, and tripped over lines and lines of terrible ideas. I think the one thing that freaks me out the most is judgement — because, well, people can be so cruel.
I think the moment I started to realize that sharing my ideas, whether good or bad, helped me build the confidence I needed to bring them to fruition on a solo project or in a team effort.
Living in the digital age means that we’re more inclined to exercise our socializing mechanics in more varying ways.
Sharing is a big part of our lives, now more than it ever has been. Everything we post on social media — even on this platform — is constantly shared amongst ourselves to bring laughter; to educate each other; to broadcast awareness; and to hopefully leave the world better than we found it.
“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” — Margaret Heffernan
When you present your ideas, be prepared that not every person will dig it. The single, most valuable thing I’ve learned last year was the Art of Detachment from the Jocko Podcast. The key is to take emotion out of the equation so you can use your better judgement to process the information before taking action. This way, you save yourself from any lashes of defensiveness… and possibly becoming a giant a-hole.
Process the information
In my experience, when I’m having what I think is a solid idea, I’ve already invested a lot of time, energy, and emotion into it which means that I’m more vulnerable than ever. I noticed that I’m more susceptible to get defensive if someone says the wrong things at the wrong time. And I’ve been victim to it.
While you’re getting feedback or get critiqued, I think the best actionable thing you can do is to muster all your strength and don’t say anything. And also, don’t interject your opinions of why you think that person is wrong for not seeing it from your perspective — everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Just do what you’d do in theatres: listen, watch, and process at the end of the showing.
Take action at the right time
I used to think taking action was all that was necessary to make things happen, when in fact, you need patience, listening skills, and a strategy. You can’t go running into any situation with guns a-blazing without knowing where your troops are versus where your enemy is.
So, you have to do a little recon and tread carefully. The person on the giving-end of the criticism won’t feel appreciated for giving their private insight if you consistently lash out to defend yourself. When you process your thoughts, it makes it easier for you and the person on the giving-end a more comfortable discussion rather than a heated argument that may turn ugly. Can’t decide when to take action? Read the subject, person, or scenario first.
“To want to understand is an attempt to recapture something we have lost.” — Peter Høeg
Projects I’m working on
And since we’re sharing… Big things are going to happen this year and I’m here to see it through! Here’s the short-listed version of the things I plan to get done by Spring:
- Fix my portfolio
- Start a non-profit organization
- Code a full website
- Design a concept app for transit
I wrote this article because dealing with criticism is a constant in all our lives and we interact with it on a personal or professional standpoint. I learned that if you get judged, just refine the idea until someone will listen intently.