Do You Hate Criticism? Here’s Why You Should Love It!

criticism

Don’t you hate when people criticize you? I especially hate it when they start calling you out anonymously because they are afraid that you’ll get mad at them. Don’t worry, most people (including me) hate criticism and our gut reaction is to fight back. The fact is though, if people start criticizing you it’s actually a good thing and here’s what you should do:

  1. Acknowledge the criticism and try to understand where they are coming from. Even if you feel that they are totally wrong you should try and step in their shoes because there must be some reason for them to respond to you in a negative fashion.
  2. Even if you disagree to what that person said, you need to react to it in a positive fashion and try and make them happy. You will not always be able to do this and worse case scenario you should try and educate that individual.
  3. The most important thing that you need to take from the criticism is experience. Learn from what happened so that you can prevent the same criticism in the future.

Now that you know how to handle criticism you might still be wondering why I said criticism is a good thing. The fact of the matter is, you will not be able to please everyone but if you take the high road by not being a dick others will notice you and those people will start seeing you as a great guy.

Criticism is always tough to take, but if you can sallow your pride for a bit you’ll become a much better person. Personal branding is how other individuals look upon you and if you want to be well perceived you need to be willing to take criticism and more importantly learn from it. Worse case scenario, the criticism will earn you an enemy.

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Comments

  1. Only hard type of criticism to handle is if it is coming from an absolute jerk. You can’t talk to them, better off ignoring them.

  2. Great post! One of your best yet.

    Dealing with jerks is a matter of perspective too. If you can please everyone, then you’re doing something wrong! (See Creating Passionate Users.)

    The human brain is very poorly equipped for dealing with new information and opportunities. So just accept that there are people that are at different stages in their lives and move on. (Also make a note of this and write more about the subject — it’s a business model :-)

    Anyway, I agree fully. Taking criticism objectively is the best thing you can do for yourself and your blog!

    -alexjc

  3. I agree that criticism is both necessary and beneficial, but I disagree with some of your points.

    1. Trying to understand their points takes both self-reflection and a desire to evaluate your argument and theirs based on the relative merits. This is a good thing.

    2. Benevolent criticism – that is, disagreeing with one’s argument rather than disagreeing for the sake of it – has nothing to do with making anyone happy, and neither does responding to the criticism. Stick to the argument. The goal is to advance understanding of the topic; happiness is not a factor. You can treat a dissenter with respect and courtesy – this should be standard – but in no way is your effort driven by trying to make them happy. If one is truly committed to advancing their discipline, happiness doesn’t factor in.

    3. The attitude expressed in this point – that the most important thing about criticism is to learn how to avoid it – is harmful [and contradictory to your argument]. As someone who runs a polemical site, I depend on criticism to hone my arguments and expose the flaws within them. Criticism from readers has increased the value of my commentary in a way that’s almost immeasurable – I need it and so do the dissenters. That’s why we have these “conversations.” If you meant “prevent the same criticism in the future” to mean that it will help you refine your research methods and argumentation so you put forth better arguments, then I support that.

    • Good points… here are my responses

      1. As for that point I don’t have much to say.

      2. I agree with you that on that you should “stick with the argument”. My whole thing with the happiness is that if you acknowledge their criticism and try and do something about it in many cases they will be happy because you did not brush them off.

      3. Yes, I was trying express how you should try and avoid the same criticism in the future. Overall criticism is great and it should always be welcomed.

  4. Criticism helps you build your brand from the real perspective. Your total perceived value is in the eyes of your audience, so only they can help you.

  5. This is a great post Neil. I’m going to recommend it to an art critique group that I lead. I know what you’re discussing is a bit different from art critique. But there are some definite similarities. I agree that unsolicited criticism is a very hard thing to deal with. It can be very damaging or it can be quite helpful. One of the things I tell my group is to first ask themselves if the criticism inspires them to create or to give up. If it’s the latter, ignore the criticism.
    If you receive a critique that you don’t agree with it’s best to give the critic a perfunctory acknowledgement, such as “That’s an interesting idea, I’ll take your advice into consideration.” I think one of the worst things to do is engage in an argument with a critic. I think it best to put it aside and look at it later, when you’re a bit more dispassionate about the subject.
    I don’t know if it would be helpful or not but here is the url to my group’s critique guide lines. http://realcritiqueforum.googlepages.com/home

  6. Robin’s mention of unsolicited criticism is interesting. Often when we ask for feedback we really want validation (Yes, you gave that presentation brilliantly!) rather than a genuine evaluation of what went well and what can be improved. Like Matthew I see someone disagreeing with your ideas as healthy debate. We owe it to ourselves and our clients/customers to have discussions with people whose views are different to ours. By testing our arguments or beliefs we can only get better at what we do.

    Personal branding isn’t about being liked by everyone. It’s about being clear about who you are, what you stand for and the work you want to attract.

  7. Initially, it’s kind of hard for me to take criticism from readers. But when you think about it, 1) it’s hard to please everybody, 2) if people are willing to take time to comment, it shows they are actually reading your articles. You feel better.

    I agree with personal branding. It’s not about the criticism, it’s about how well you handle it. People will respect you if you know where you stand and what principles you hold close to your chest.

    • With your second point you have to be a bit careful because a lot of times people don’t fully read before they comment. Sometimes people jump to conclusions and criticize when their points are covered within your blog post.

      • It does happen, I agree. Some folks are just out there doing nothing but condemning everything people do. We just have to move on…Thanks for the pointing out, Neil.

  8. Receiving criticism isn’t something people consider when they begin an endeavor, such as starting a business or even just starting a blog. You have to have a thick skin, and remember that how you handle criticism could be a positive or negative turning point for your personal brand in the eyes of onlookers.

    I’d like to suggest another reason criticism is valuable: it allows us to see ourselves through the eyes of others and it exposes our blind spots to ourselves. This can offer valuable insight into the self, which leads to greater self-improvement.

    On the other hand, sometimes people are just trolls or they really have no idea what they’re talking about. Your post has some great points for handling these situations (and, of course, for “legit crit”, too!).

  9. Hey Neil, don’t take it so personally. That post on my blog really wasn’t criticizing you personally, you know?

    (Sorry… I had to do it). Threadjacking is just one example response to criticism in a competitive arena. Why validate the criticism at all? Let the reader decide the verdict, and use the power of the pen to influence the reader, just-as-the-critic-did.

    Avoid flame wars for sure, and I totally agree about shifting perspective and learning, but never forget you can gain directly as well from the conversation.

    I think you need to decide if you will compete or not, and stay true to character. No matter what, people value consistency and dislike deception. You may want to be nice guy, but if you take that high road and play games behind the scenes, you will get called out for hypocrisy.

  10. Hey! Nice blog. First time here and you are going straight to my netvibes

  11. I’ve been saying the same thing about comments on social sites, such as Digg. In fact, I can even suggest getting popular on social sites to test your offer/content.

  12. Yes, somebody once said…

    “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

    I have it attributed to Bill Gates, but I’m not sure it was him. Either way, when someone’s criticizing you, there’s an opportunity hidden somewhere in the situation.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Paul Hancox
    http://www.InternetInfluenceMagic.com

  13. Constructive criticism should be welcomed at all times – I see it as a gift when I receive constructive criticism as it brings my attention to areas and possibilities I may never have previously been aware of or even considered.

    - Martin Reed

  14. Let me be lil Jerk here,
    These are the very basic things, we dont need “The Neil Patel” to learn these things from. Don’t you remember, you teachers used to teach you the same lesson when you were in class 4 or 5 in school?

  15. This is great!

    I recently had a post on the front page of Yahoo! Personals, and though it was one of the most popular articles of the day – not everyone felt the same way.

    I got reemed! Apparently people hate me. But I love this because it shows that you’re truly riding the edge, and thinking outside the box.

    Here’s to taking the criticism with a smile guys!!!

  16. Glad to see so many people have found this subject interesting. You might want to look at the July 20th NPR report about cognitive dissonance and our inherent ability for self-justification. It’s a quick overview of the history of the psychological theory from the new book “Mistakes Were Made – but not by me”. It suggests that there are good reasons why we unlikely to all suddenly start loving what we perceive as criticism!

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12125926&sc=emaf

  17. Hi Neil,
    I’ve really been enjoying your blog. I’m finding it to be really helpful in a lot of different business related areas. I’m participating in a game of tag and have tagged your blog. I would be interested in your ideas around Simple Success Habits- http://growthinaction.blogspot.com/2007/07/simple-successful-habits.html

    I hope you are open to participating :-) I look forward to more posts!

  18. Criticism is satisfying only that person who says something is bad. Who cares what they think? If they dont like it they dont have to watch it. They say they hate it. Okay. Whatever. They dont have to watch it. No one is forcing them. They can get off thier butt and go make thier own movie or whatever. And since they think they are so high and mighty and so very right, it will be HILARIOUS when another critic is as nasty to them as they were about someone elses work. What goes around comes around.

    There are other people who enjoy the thing that person criticised. They love it the way it is. So why change it just because that one critic said so? What makes them so special? They are a human being just like us. They eat, sleep, and will die oneday. Instead of caring what people think who are nasty to you and dont really give a DAMN about you, why not listen to the people who actually care and enjoy your work? It is common sense. There are TONS of movies that made millions of dollars and were VERY successful in marketing that critics said were horrible. If they were so horrible they wouldnt have made so much money now would they? And then critics put down people for what they like and dont like. Saying those other people have “bad taste” which is rude and very childish. Some people never grow up. There are many people who have no lives and live to just put other people down to build themselves up. Which is pathetic and again VERY childish. That is something bullies do on the playground to other children. May nasty critics PLEASE grow up.

    I know there are some nice and proffesional ones out there, but these days there are so many immature brats who never grew up hogging the magazines and internet sites. They are making bad names for critics that have manners and just want to help improve work by giving advice.

  19. You know that critics are just professionals in whatever industry or field they’re in. They won’t always be write, but they’ll be right some of the time. Fore example with the movies, more often than not, they can successfully save you from wasting $10 bucks at the movies by telling you about a flop. Then occasionally they’ll tell you a movie that they is good, but you hate it. When you find critics, you need to find someone who has the same taste as you. Whether it be business or movies or whatever, finding someone on the same level of you is what will help you progress.

  20. It takes a strong person to stand tall in the face of criticism, take it on board, and reply with honour and grace. Hopefully I’ll get there one day :-)

  21. What a great post! I totally agree it takes wisdom to appreciate criticism and take advantage of it. Of course there are people who criticise out of jealousy or anger but if we have a lot of self confidence we will be able to tell the useful criticism from the foolish one.

  22. Black Reign :

    I like your blog and everything, but I disgree with all this “love critcism” bullshit. You see, every critic has their own preference, yes even the professional ones. Now if that’s the case, then what’s the point of listening to them if one sees something wrong while the other sees nothing wrong? Professional criticism, puhlease, that’s just a lame and pathetic excuse to downplay something. Unintelligent because we like something they hate? Oh how professional, dumbass! Improvement! Pft! We can self-assess ourselves, and those guys only take the fun out of what you like! My point is. the only critic that you have to listen to is YOURSELF because it’s what YOU like, not theirs!

    • Criticism is amazing as it stirs up conversation. Even though YOU like it doesn’t mean everyone else will. If others don’t than you won’t have people coming back.

  23. I agree – great post! I presonally have no problem in accepting constructive criticism – the one that I can benefit from or that will inspire me to improve. If it is just playing the blame game then I hate it and go mad.

  24. critisism is great because i brings a reaction in you, and you should always see how you react to negative outside thing, its very important

  25. sell textbooks :

    Criticism is good as long as you take it the right way. IF you take it personal and not as a chance to improve then you have missed the point.

  26. I will never accept “so called”, fake or destructive criticism from so called, fake and destructive critics. I hate them and always will. Nothing to do with pride. Not opinion. It is a fact.

    But and I mean but I don’t mind “real” critics and those who actually give constructive critism or feedbacks. Those are the only ones I accept. A win-win benefit. The ones mentioned above is usually win-lose which I despise a lot.

    I am pretty much like the director or producer of the live action City Hunter movie that starred Jackie Chan. Look around at his quote or something like that in Wikipedia and you’ll catch my drift.

  27. I really think there are two types of criticisms. It is very important to distinguish between the two and know how to act appropriately.

    The first is legitimate criticism. These are coming from people that may not like something you have done, or disagree with one of your opinions. These are types of criticisms you should really think about and ask yourself “how do I make this better for this person or how could I have done this differently?” If it is someone who has a different opinion talk it out and hear what they have to say, because then it will definitely help you to understand where people are coming from, even if you disagree.

    The second type is straight up trolling. These are people who just try to get under your skin or make you look bad. This is the type of criticism that should be simply ignored and deleted if possible. Best reaction here is no reaction. You won’t be able to win no matter how you react.

    • There is definitely different forms of criticism out there. So make sure when you criticism it is constructive rather then destructive. Thanks for your input on the matter.

  28. It takes a strong person to stand tall in the face of criticism, take it on board, and reply with honour and grace. Hopefully I’ll get there one day .

  29. i see the validity of criticism in a student/ teacher situation… anything outside of that is almost always a waste of time for the person taking the criticism. Criticism is the heat that tests those to see if they got IT or not. The weak or hesitant usually crash and burn once it cranks a bit.
    As far as those who offer unsolicited criticism, the majority are usually hate-filled puppets of regret, and the rest are tactless. And what if the crit is true? so what, am i going to change everything because someone points out what i already know. Watch the documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry – he talks about how he handles crits and its pretty funny.
    Being critical of yourself is important, but why take some random babbling from weekend warriors? Once you start thinking other people have insight you dont, and you believe their unsolicited crits are worth something , you can forget hitting any sort of serious goals because the heat builds in your direction the higher you go…
    If you are the achievement oriented type, talent and hard work combined inner criticism is all you need. I’ve gotten tons of unsolicited criticism in my career and never once did i perceive it to be beneficial…let alone worth following. I also say the same for solicited crits , 99.9% of the time they are useless, and if you are asking for crits all the time it means you have issues.

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