9 Reasons Why Criticism Rocks (and Some of the Worst Comments I’ve Ever Received in Running my Blog)

This post is dedicated to all of you out there who may not be big fans of criticism. Let’s all embrace criticisms and love them! ;)

Jumping off the cliff

Last week, I was out having lunch with a great friend, P. Blogging came up as a chat topic.

P told me that she has been thinking of  starting a blog. She is not native, was born and raised in different parts of the world, and is now a PR (permanent resident) in Singapore. Despite having recently had a kid, she travels on a monthly basis as part of exploring the world—along with her husband and kid. She wants to start a blog to share her story and lessons with other families and couples to dispel common myths about how it’s hard to travel (or live a normal life for that matter) after having a child/children.

“That’s such a great idea!” I exclaimed and broke into a huge smile.

“Thanks! But there’s something which I’m feeling hesitant about,” she said.

“What’s stopping you?” I quizzed.

She said that one of the factors was the fear of criticism. She’s a very private person, and starting a blog would require her to share pretty personal things. It was a premature concern since she might not even receive any criticism, but she wouldn’t know how to handle them if she did. Ideally, she wouldn’t even want to be caught in that situation to begin with. She was just unsure of how the public would respond to her writings.

So I told her that her sentiments about criticism were unwarranted, because criticism is a good thing. Then, I shared why I think that way.

What followed was a huge, bright, and beautiful smile from her as she nodded and said that that was indeed a great way to look at criticism. She said that she would start viewing criticisms from that angle from then on.

Embracing Criticism (+ Some of the Worst Comments I’ve Ever Received)

What I shared with her are important lessons which I have learned about criticism in the past few years, ever since I started PE.

I recall not too long ago, I posted a comment on my Facebook, expressing my gratitude for my readers’ constant support. I said that they make the occasional “bad stuff” worth it. I received a whole slew of (mainly positive) responses from those following me on Facebook almost immediately, something which really warmed my heart.

Among them was a friend and an ex-colleague, a very senior and acclaimed manager in the company I used to work at (P&G). She said that whatever negative feedback that I receive today should be a breeze since I used to work at P&G, which is an MNC with very rigorous work processes and evaluation standards.

Not really, actually. My past work at P&G did involve some pretty heavy responsibilities, which naturally led to harsh evaluations and critiques at times. However, no matter how harsh the evaluations and critiques were, they would be within boundaries, namely about the work and relayed in a civil fashion (perhaps sometimes rudely depending on the manager, but it still wouldn’t be an issue if you learn to take the critiques professionally and objectively).

But blogging, lord. The kind of comments you can get have no boundaries—they can basically be anything and everything, from your looks to your personal life to your family. It’s no longer about the work; it’s about everything, including you as a person, and it can well get very personal and uncivil sometimes.

Just two weeks ago, I wrote about my recent enrollment with Lunch Actually, kindly sponsored by LA themselves. Not long after, someone posted two separate comments insulting me, saying that the article made her “sick to her stomach”, that I had “no integrity”, that I had “prostituted” myself, that I should send my article to “pornhub”, and “it was no wonder you are still single” (among some other colorful words).

A while back, I had a photo shoot with Simply Her Magazine as part of a career feature. I shared the photos up on the blog. A guy, a self-help blogger no less, wrote a somewhat sexist e-mail after seeing the photos, asking me to “please lose some weight”, because people look up to me for inspiration and I was apparently not an inspirational enough figure (no pun intended) because I had looked (and I quote) “too prosperous” in the shoot.

A month ago or so, someone spammed my articles with various pointless comments. In one of her comments, she flamed me and my ethnicity, saying I was a joke and I was nothing but a “stupid Azian [sic] girl trying to take over the world” [insert the devil emote].

And the list goes on and on. When I have a special folder in my e-mail client for messages like this, you can imagine how many of such messages I get on an ongoing basis.

…Yet, I think criticisms are good, really good. I didn’t use to think so until I started PE. Over the years, I began to embrace criticisms more and more, to the point where I regard them as red-letter events today. And I’ll explain to you why.

9 Reasons Why Criticism Is Good

  1. For someone to criticize you, it means that he/she cared (enough to write or share that criticism, anyway). The person could have used that time to do something else, but no, he/she actually bothered to send you that message, showing that he/she cared. That has got to count for something.
  2. You are reaching new people. Every time I receive a criticism, I celebrate because that means that I have just reached a new audience member—someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with what I say/do. I think what’s most worrying is IF I don’t get any criticism at all. That would mean that I’m inside my comfort zone and just connecting with the same people every day.

    You want to spread your life’s message to as many people as you can. Receiving criticism means that you are now reaching people whom you’ve never reached before. That means you are touching more lives than you’ve ever touched before. That’s a really great thing.

  3. People wouldn’t criticize you if they didn’t think you were worth criticizing to begin with. To be honest, there are tons of critique-worthy stuff out there. But not everyone takes time to criticize the things he/she don’t agree with. Why? That’s because they don’t feel that those things are worth their critiques at all.

    If someone is criticizing you, that probably means that there’s something about you that is worth him/her taking time to criticize. If you look at the most prominent figures in this world, from Lady Gaga, to Oprah Winfrey, to Steve Jobs, all of them have large groups of detractors. Why? It’s because each of them stands for a great message—a message that shakes others and stirs up their souls. As Winston Churchill puts it, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

  4. Criticism lets you see things in a different light. Criticism arises as a result of a conflict in thoughts. You did/said something, someone else has a different opinion, and hence the criticism. Hence, whenever you receive a criticism, you are hearing from a different viewpoint—one which you might never have considered before. The criticism helps you to see things from a different perspective, hence raising your awareness.

    Read: 15 Ways To Raise Your Consciousness, one of the exclusive articles in Personal Excellence Book, Volume 1.

  5. Criticism is a form of honesty. (It lets you know what others truly think.) I actually prefer to be with someone who openly shares what he/she thinks than someone who thinks the same thoughts BUT keeps it to him/herself. With the first person, at least what I see/hear is what I get. With the latter person, the relationship quickly descends into a guessing game.

    What I do after hearing the person’s opinion is a different thing altogether (I can choose to heed it or discard it), but at least I’m now aware of what the person thinks and where he/she stands.

    Read: How To Deal With Dishonest People 

  6. Criticism helps you to improve. Criticism lets you know about your blind spots so that you can work on them. The more blind spots you uncover about yourself, the faster you will grow. Over the years, I have learned many things from others’ criticisms of me and my work. Some of them have helped me to learn things I have never known before about myself, which has been instrumental for my growth. Read: Blind Spots In Personal Growth
  7. Criticism lets you learn about your defense mechanisms. In Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program, Day 18: Reflect on a Criticism, I mentioned that there are two things we can always learn from criticism: the thing that is critiqued (see Points #4 and #6), and our reaction to the criticism. Even when I get criticisms which have no validity, I still learn a ton about myself based on the emotions that surface when receiving the criticism, my first gut instinct reaction, and how I handle the situation.

    I’ve learned that my reactions are usually a reflection of unprocessed inner issues. Working through these reactions has helped me to become a calmer and more conscious person.

  8. Criticism helps you to learn more about others. Every criticism tells you something about yourself and the other person. By breaking down the comment, you can understand the critic’s perspective, his/her beliefs, and his/her values. This can be helpful in furthering the relationship with the person.

    For example, if your mom criticizes you for being rude to her, maybe it tells you that she is hurt by your actions. She is looking for love and affirmation in the relationship but your words and actions (whether they are really rude or not) are denying her that. Hence, it indicates that you should show love to your mom in a language that she understands, rather than relying on implicit mannerisms.

  9. Criticism sometimes jolts you into action. Ever had a situation where a criticism kicked you into action? Yeah, I had that before too. Sometimes, criticism provides that wake-up call that you have been missing. Perhaps there is something that you have been doing wrong but the people around you are just too nice to let you know or they themselves are oblivious to it, like you. A well-timed criticism, delivered in an appropriate manner, can sometimes provide a much-needed insight which then ignites you into action.

When Criticism Isn’t Good

There are cases when criticism can be detrimental.

#1: When criticism is the only thing you get every day

First example would be when you get constantly get criticism without any breather. Besides the fact that this can be a serious energy suck, constant criticism can divert you from the things that really matter, because rather than work on your goals, you’re too busy reacting to others or resolving conflict between you and other people.

Examples of such situations would be when parents criticize their kids 24/7, a student who is constantly picked on by school bullies, and someone whose work involves dealing with a public audience (such as teachers, writers, bloggers, public figures, and so on).

If you’re getting so much criticism to the point that it’s hindering rather than enabling you, some suggestions I have for you are:

  1. Learn not to let criticism faze you. Read: 8 Helpful Ways To Deal With Critical People
  2. Don’t spend your time on the criticism. Use it for something else. Read: Put First Things First
  3. If the criticism is mainly coming from one person, assert yourself to him/her. Tell him/her you get his/her point, but this just isn’t what you want to be dealing with at the moment. Read: How To Say No To Others: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need
  4. Create boundaries on how criticism can reach you. For example, I set specific channels where readers can openly share feedback (such as the comment sections of new articles and my social media channels). I do not allow e-mail to be used for feedback purposes—it’s reserved strictly for work engagements. This helps me to be dramatically productive.

#2: When the criticism isn’t constructive and/or gets personal

The second case is when the criticism isn’t constructive and/or becomes personal, offensive, and disparaging. The three examples I’ve shared earlier in the article are examples of that.

When that happens, it’s a violation of your rights. Put these people in their place by asserting your rights. Be ready to cut away chronic critics if you have to. 

Read:

Start Embracing Criticism

Here are some awesome resources on PE on how to handle criticism. :D

At the same time, it’s important to learn to provide constructive criticism to others. Here’s a quote I just saw last week which I absolutely adore:

“People seldom refuse help, if one offers it in the right way.” ~ A. C. Benson.

How true is that? ;) If someone isn’t taking to your well-intended feedback/advice too kindly, perhaps it reflects that you aren’t delivering your feedback in the right manner. Here’s a resource that will help:

What do you think about criticism? Why? Share your take in the comments section.

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  • http://cupidselves.com Christina

    This article is timely! I just received my first ever real criticism on my blog, and how I reacted to it was pretty instructive. I don’t feel that the criticism was valid, but this person hit a few sore spots without even knowing me. I could brush some of it off by thinking, “She wouldn’t have said this if she knew me,” but my immediate reaction was very defensive, and I spent way too long thinking about ways to refute her.

    I said my piece and she just kept at it. I thought about continuing to engage her, because it was clear she didn’t “get” what I was trying to convey, but then I realized that I was just spending way too much time thinking about it. I’ve managed to laugh it off for the most part- I haven’t had a teenager be patronizing with me in 30 years- but my initial reaction certainly showed me that my skin is way too thin.

    You make a good point about the type of criticism too. Even though I tended to take criticism at work more personally than I should have, there was still that boundary that really kept it from being personal. Besides, I was usually so confident that 99 percent of what I was doing was good, that the occasional criticism- even tactlessly delivered- usually didn’t hit me too hard.

    When I was younger, I was pretty serious about classical piano, and participated in a lot of workshops, where you’d play in front of a “judge,” usually a music professor and other students. The professor would pick your work apart in detail, in front of everyone. For some reason, this never bothered me. Maybe because I knew I still had a lot to learn, but also because some of these professors were extremely good at criticizing constructively. It was usually delivered in a way that made you feel that you were perfectly capable of doing what was suggested- maybe you just hadn’t thought of it. I usually left those situations feeling really good about my work.

    Maybe the criticism of my blog post was harder on me because I don’t feel completely confident that I’m doing a great job. The commenter also made assumptions that I lacked some of the things of which I am most proud, like my education and ability to write well. It momentarily made me worry that the way in which I present myself is not quite what I’m aiming for.

    Both giving and receiving criticism is hard! That’s why I really appreciate those who can do it well.

  • Vellata

    I think, that often criticism tells more about the person, who critiques than about the real issue. It’s even more true in second case – when criticism is not good and gets personal. One example would be teachers lashing out their frustration on students, calling them “not able to learn”, “not making progress”, “untalented” or plainly “stupid”. I think, it tells, that inside teachers mind (probably unconsciously) goes on the thought: “I’m frustrated, because I can’t find a way to explain the material to those students. But if I’ll admit, that it’s my fault, they will have no respect for me, so I’d rather make them feel worthless and damage their confidence.” Or in other words “I’m afraid, that they will notice, that I’m a bad teacher”. Most likely those people also have damaged self image and probably mix roles, thinking, that being “bad teacher” also means being “bad person”. What the student can indeed take away from those criticisms is “I need another approach/method/teacher”.
    There are countless examples – I’m sure, you can see, what led those people, who left harsh comments act so. No, they don’t care about you. They care about themselves and lashing out is just a wrongly chosen defense mechanism.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      I think the teachers in these cases do care, even if a little bit, just that perhaps they need to learn how to manage their emotions and present their criticisms in a more constructive manner. Even the three examples I cited in the article do care in a way; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have left the comments. They might not care in the same way as a genuine friend or a sincere reader, but they still care in some way (on a different type of capacity).

      I also tend to shy away from the common thought about criticism “being more about the critic than about the receiver” (even if the criticism is personal). I believe I wrote about this in 30BBM, in the Day 18 task on Reflect on a Criticism. I feel that such an approach tends to denounce our responsibility in situations where people offer criticism or the things we can learn from criticism. It also tends to be the “easy way out”; probably helpful if the receiver feels traumatized by the comment and just wants to get away from it, but it misses him/her out on lessons or insights that can be learned.

      For example, example of the person above who asked me to lose weight. On his end he probably had some personal image issues and sexist notions that females in the society should be at a certain weight or should have a certain look to be considered inspirational. That’s fine and it’s his views; I can’t change them and I shouldn’t. I respect them (in the sense that I respect that everyone has his/her own opinion).

      On my end, the reflection point is that some people might have thought that I was heavy or that I looked heavy after looking at the photos (though I was not overweight and I had never been overweight my entire life). Some people, people with fundamentalist views possibly or people in image-conscious societies, might view me as less inspirational due to my look or weight. That doesn’t mean that someone in my situation should lose weight as the next step (I just brushed away the comment), but properly reflecting on that criticism (rather than denouncing it right when I received it) helped me to get insight about my situation and what others think about it.

      Whatever the person decides to do thereafter is his/her own choice, but at least there is an insight gained (vs. just concluding “Oh okay this person is a d*ck and this criticism is more about him than me.” or “This criticism is everything about him and nothing about me; I’m great and there is nothing wrong with me.”). This approach tends to make one miss out on some valuable lessons that can be learned from people’s comments (even when harsh, insensitive, and distasteful).

  • http://lifemosaique.wordpress.com/ Lina

    I agree with you, Celes, that criticism can be a good thing *but* only as long as it is constructive – I couldn’t agree more with that A. Benson quote!

    I don’t actually get a lot of criticism – and no, I’m not saying that I’m a perfect person and everybody loves everything I do, lol. It’s just that I have a peaceful nature, I try to find a common ground whenever there are diverging opinions on certain things and when I do something inefficiently or without the outcome which was desired by the person who asked me to do it, then usually they tell me about it in a nice manner, more like an advice than as a criticism (somehow the fact that I’m calm and that I want to keep everything okay&peaceful gets to them and makes them act the same way towards me; that’s why I’m a firm believer of “Kindness breeds more kindness”).

    A situation where criticism initially hurt me, but then made me learn something important, was during a period of time when my mother used to tell me that I’m slow, that I don’t move as fast as her in the kitchen, that I take ages to clean a room and I felt really upset and angry. “How can she say that?! I work a lot around the house, why isn’t she satisfied?!”. However, after taking my time and thinking everything through, I came to realize that my mother didn’t mean to be rude or to upset me, she didn’t mean to say “Oh, hey, you never do anything around the house or you do it poorly”. Actually, she just wanted to assure that I’d become a hard-working, diligent person, who sees housework (and not only) as something positive which influences our lives in a good way and therefore it should be done without resentment, without dedication (which in turn would lead to poor results). On the other hand, I think it would have been different if she told me these things in a calm way, during a conversation instead of making it sound rather harsh at first.

    So this is my take on criticism. It is important for personal development as long as it is put across in a nice, constructive manner and, also, as long as it is taken with the same calm attitude, analyzed and reduced to certain conclusions, instead of backfiring at the persons who offer the criticism.

  • http://www.CoachingWithChristina.com Christine

    Thank you so much for sharing, Celes! I have mixed feelings about criticism, which you highlighted. I don’t like criticism, and I do worry about getting it myself. But I totally agree with you that when you are really being true to yourself and taking a stand, that is when you get a reaction that people aren’t always going to agree with and that’s a *good* thing! :)

    ~Christina

  • DickWeb

    Celes
    Useful stuff. thank you.
    Basis for MANY self-assessment questions should anyone be interested.

    P.S. Your eMails include a “Reply-To” line …
    “Reply-To: Personal Excellence ”
    Seems reasonable, if you do not want eMail responses, to remove that line from your eMails.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      DickWeb, the reply-to line is part of the e-mail client. I don’t think it has anything to do on the sender’s end. The best I have done (since a while back) is to set the reply-to email as “donotreply [at] personalexcellence [dot] co” which tells people that this is not a valid email address (any e-mail to that address also bounces and returns to the sender).

  • Bob

    What do you think about criticism? Why?
    Criticism is when people judge you on things they think you should have or should have not done. It is more than likely a reminder to themselves of what and how they would like to be. 
    Criticism can be very useful as it tells me that it may be time to change how I go about doing something.
    When I see/hear someone I respect making an error, in my opinion, I feel disappointed that this person has not lived up to my expectations of them.
    Lessons learnt from criticism - 
    when everyone is saying the same thing about something it is definitely time to start taking action to change the consequences.
    Excellent point Celes, about what we can learn about ourselves and others from being criticized.

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

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Bob, I like that you considered the situation from the point of view of giving criticism. The kind of criticism we give to others is definitely a learning point for ourselves as well.

      I also love that quote by Bill Gates. Thanks a lot for sharing, Bob. I’m going to schedule it as one of the quotes in the PE Quotes section. :D

      • Bob

        It is a good quote to ponder on and come back to again and again.
        I find that criticism is difficult to give with tact and the appropriate level of warmth. It is the fine balance between intention to correct but not to harm or offend.

        • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

          Hey Bob! I’m not sure if you’ve checked out the article on constructive criticism before. I personally apply all the tips there and I’ve found them very helpful in providing criticism that is helpful and well received by others.

  • http://andrewwargo.com/blog Andrew W.

    Nicely done, Celes! Nicely done.

    I tend to view volunteered criticism as free consulting. As you said…if someone cares enough to criticize, they care. Perhaps about the wrong thing, but they care. So I skim it for opportunities for me to improve. If it isn’t purely insulting and still hits a tender spot, that gives me an area to consider working on. Since I follow a structured approach to self-development, I put any relevant points from the criticism into that structure.

    My best to you,

    Andrew

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Andrew, it’s been a while! :D Totally agree with what you have said. Be it about the subject in question or the reaction to the criticism, it’s definitely something to learn from, and that’s why I find criticism helpful (but not in the two exception cases as I’ve mentioned above). I also love what you’ve said about it as free consulting. I think that’s a really great way to look at criticism.

  • http://simplydillogical.blogspot.in/ Dilip Kumar

    Hello Celes !!

    First of let me tell you that it was a great read :clap: . Usually I don’t get time to go through all of your posts :( . But this one caught my eyes. Hats off to you for how you are taking criticism positively :bow: . And I observed one thing that your way of representing your ideas is fantastic. Its so great to read you.

    Just one word of advice from my own experience is that some times ( well I think most of the time) you just need to ignore these kind of people coz even if you are right, these people will still try to demoralize you.
    Moreover if you will keep on giving more space to such criticism in your thoughts it will start making you loose your confidence.

    So just be like that and keep it up ! :cool:
    YOU ARE COOL ;)

    P.S : Please delete my earlier reply, I posted it in wrong place.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Dilip, thanks for your comments! :D I think one can only lose confidence if the person lets the criticism get to him/her. No one and no comment can make us feel a certain way unless we allow the person/comment to do so. I covered it in Tip #6 of the article on how to deal with critical people.

      • http://simplydillogical.blogspot.in/ Dilip Kumar

        Yes, I guess you are right. Though, after some thinking, I would like to add that when there is criticism that comes one’s way, it should be carefully analysed to see if there is any truth in it. If there is correction can be made accordingly. On the other hand, if others’ criticism is ignored or there is a tendency to defend oneself, there cannot be any correction and mistakes are repeated.

        So when I listen to others with honesty, I am able to discover even the most negligible aspect in my behaviour which I can change. So I find myself constantly improving and progressing and moving on towards success. So having brought about a change, even the criticism that comes my way stops.

  • Zorah Sehlako

    This is great. If all of us were taking criticism in a positive way, we would be living in more harmony.

  • http://www.viveramarprosperar.com Luis Magalhães

    I agree that criticism is an important part of growth. And that it can be difficult to deal with some times.

    See it as a chestnut. I wouldn’t eat a chestnut whole, and I don’t think you would either. We crack the chestnut’s hard shell, and eat the soft, yummy part inside.

    So I try to do the same with criticism. I don’t take it at face value, but instead I analyze it, try to separate the emotional part from the objective part, and judge if it is relevant to me and if I can use it to make myself better.

    I’m more interested, however, in the art of skillfully and diplomatically delivering criticism.

    You linked to an article where you write about the compliment / criticism / compliment sandwich technique. I don’t like it; even when the compliments are honest (and they always should be) I think it feels like a ruse and any moderately intelligent person will see right trough it, and probably feel annoyed by it. It feels a bit like talking to an adult as if he/she was a toddler.

    I’ve seen a variation being employed, where someone casually and very briefly drops a criticism in the middle of a mostly positive speech, but I’m not a fan of that as well.

    So I mostly refrain from criticizing people; I try to only to so when directly asked for feedback. Yet, as I myself feel that criticism is often to my benefit, I feel that I am sometimes doing a disservice to others for not thinking of a good way in which to offer criticism.

    I think that you offer some good advice on that linked article, yet I’ve found that people in general are just not receptive to it, even when delivered in a very diplomactic manner.

    Do you have any further thoughs, Celes?

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      You linked to an article where you write about the compliment / criticism / compliment sandwich technique. I don’t like it; even when the compliments are honest (and they always should be) I think it feels like a ruse and any moderately intelligent person will see right trough it, and probably feel annoyed by it. It feels a bit like talking to an adult as if he/she was a toddler.

      Hey Luis, this is not the first time I’ve heard someone criticize the feedback sandwich in this manner, so I understand what you are getting at.

      To be honest though, I’m not sure why it would have to be interpreted that way at all and I do think it’s quite a cynical take on the technique. I don’t know what there is to “see through”; it’s not like the person giving the critique is trying to create a ruse. I see it as a genuine method of giving feedback, and a useful structure to organize one’s feedback.

      I feel that some of people’s cynicism with such a method might come from the individual’s resistance or discomfort with being “complimented” or “praised”. It might also come from them feeling that other people feel that they will “not be able to take the heat”, and hence having to “dumb down” their critiques for them. Both are more reflections of the feedback receiver’s personal hangups (I feel) than a real problem with the technique itself.

      Personally, I much appreciate it when someone who uses the feedback sandwich method than someone who jumps right to talking about the things he/she doesn’t like. It has nothing to do with the feel-good factor of hearing compliments (I can’t care less about that), but for a practical reason. By focusing on the positive stuff, it is a great way to let the other party know the strengths and the things that he/she is doing right. This lays the foundation for the next step, which is to build on the areas of opportunity. (I have mentioned this in the article on constructive criticism as well.)

      For example, if I ask someone to critique my blog, I’m interested to know what I’m doing right and what I’m doing that can be improved. Say someone says, “Too many grammar mistakes. Please write shorter articles.” Sure, that tells me something, and I do get an idea of problem areas to work on. But jumping straight to the problem areas (or areas the person doesn’t like) is only giving me half the picture. It’s incomplete. It opens up some questions as to what exactly the person has problem areas with. (Shorter articles? Why? Articles too long because the person doesn’t have time to read? Or articles too lengthy? Or too heavy to read? Or what?)

      As opposed to someone who says, “I like the content; the personal stories add flavor and richness. They are very useful to read. However, the grammar mistakes can be reduced to improve reading experience. Also, more headers can be used to aid the reading process.” That’s a lot more helpful, because it lets me know that this person actually finds the content helpful, and what I need to address are the execution aspects of writing, say the organization/sectioning and the language errors.

      I do think that there are some people who apply the feedback sandwich method too robotically, resulting in the comments sounding disingenuous. But usually that has to do with the individual’s misapplication of the method than an issue with the method IMO. I’ve personally had tons of great experience with the feedback sandwich method (both being the user and receiver), and some readers have also applied the method with great results (at least from what they have told me).

      At the end of the day, I think one should use the method that the receiver is most accustomed to. So it’s possible some people might not react well to the feedback sandwich method-if so, then use the method that is best for him/her. If the individual is someone who wants to ONLY hear the bad stuff and nothing good AT ALL, then maybe one can focus on dishing out only the areas of improvement. (I actually knew someone who seriously hated having people compliment her and wanted people to just tell her in her face what they were not happy about her, even when they didn’t have such intentions. I did think a lot of it stemmed from her own self-hate issues though.)

      • http://www.luisfalcaomagalhaes.com Luis Magalhães

        Bad implementation of to technique might be one of my issues when seeing it employed, yes. I dislike it a lot when it is directed at me – while I take no pleasure in being berated, I do respect people that shoot straight.

        When I absolutely must offer critique on someone, I try to focus on indirect critique. I do this by offering sincere suggestions on how someone may do something better, and focusing on the benefit that would bring them.

        For example, if I agreed with the person that said you should lose weight, I would phrase this way:

        “Congratulations on your photoshoot! It must have taken a lot of courage to expose yourself so much, seeing that so many people look up to you. I can see that moving forward, you’ll take even more care of your physical form as to inspire people even more.”

        Of course, it is easier to craft a good critique in writing than it is in a conversation; the golden rule there would be: think well before you talk. ;)

        • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

          Hey Luis! I’m actually a little curious. You mentioned that you dislike it when people give you indirect critique; if so, then why do you try to focus on indirect critique then? You mentioned “I’ve seen a variation being employed, where someone casually and very briefly drops a criticism in the middle of a mostly positive speech, but I’m not a fan of that as well.” So why do you do that? I’m just genuinely asking the question; I’m not trying to poke holes or discredit what you’re doing. I respect your genuinity and good intentions to make others feel good while delivering critiques.

          Regarding the weight comment, here is an example of how I would phrase the comment, in application of the feedback sandwich method:

          Positive: I love the shots! You look great in them and I like your pose in the final shot. (Of course, this has to be a genuine comment, and not just some fluff written to pad the space before next part, on the area(s) of improvement.)
          Improvement: While I think you are at a perfectly fine and healthy weight and you look great as you are, I think some of the shots made you look heavier than the usual person though. I thought perhaps you would look much better if you lose a few pounds! That was just a thought that came to my mind.
          Positive (Concluding): Congratulations on the shoot! Look forward to more features like this in the future. :D

          I’m actually not too sure about your version of the weight critique. I would have preferred that guy’s original comment (even if it was tactless), because your version doesn’t tell me anything about what needs to be done (or at least what the sender feels needs to be done). For example, “take even more care of your physical form” seemed like an insinuation that the receiver is not taking care of his/her physical form, which may not be true at all and may be interpreted as an insult. The other thing is that the comment is so ambiguous that it lost the intended message (which is to lose weight). A thought that came in my mind was, “Physical form? What physical form?” It came across as “this sender has something that he/she wants to say, but is beating about the bush”, which can easily create a disingenuous and sticky atmosphere (IMO).

          (The funny thing about this comment is that it has now become a critique on a critique. Inception, anyone?)

          On a side note, I want to make a clarification regarding that guy who made the weight comment, in case anyone didn’t get my intent right. My issue wasn’t with how the guy phrased his comment. I personally did/do not care how it was phrased (like I mentioned in the article, I focus on the “how” and not the “what” of the message).

          My issue was the implicit assumption that one must be at a certain weight or look a certain way to be considered inspiring; also I believe that he had made that comment in consideration that I’m a female, which made it sexist. For one, like I had mentioned in my comment to Vellata (below), I was not overweight during the shoot and I have never been overweight in my life, so the suggestion that there was an issue with my weight (when it was a perfectly healthy figure and weight) really doesn’t help the perpetuating societal obsession with body weight (especially for females) and eating disorders. If sticky skinny is the new “healthy”, it’s no wonder so many females have eating disorders today.

          Two, it didn’t matter even if I was or if anyone was overweight; consider figures like Oprah Winfrey and Susan Boyle, who are extremely heavy set but inspire millions in the world. (They should lose weight for health reasons and so on, but the suggestion that a female’s weight (or anyone’s weight for that matter) affects her ability to inspire is incredibly insulting IMO.)

          Just wanted to set the record straight. I plan to write articles in the future regarding body image, unhealthy societal fixations on a certain body form or shape (though I’ve already partly covered that in the recent beauty article, and more.

          • http://www.viveramarprosperar.com Luis Magalhães

            No problem at all, Celes. Often times I use writing (and discussing) as a way to formulate and organize my thoughts on a subject, and as such I am aware that I might be unclear on some points, or even end up with holes in my logic. I’m happy with that, as it means I am thinking about things as I write them, and not just transcribing truths that are set in stone in my mind. I like to keep my mind as stone-free as possible.

            I use indirect criticism as I described not because I like it, but because I haven’t found a better alternative, and that was the motivation for me posting here; trying to find out viable alternatives. One must do with the tools one has – and more than anything, I genuinely try avoid offering critique unless directly asked to.

            Personally, I prefer people to be straight with me. But as I work with people every day, both as a physician and as a life-coach, I have found that most people don’t like it like that. Everyone is different, so even if I don’t particularly like the method, I won’t be so arrogant as to exclude it from my toolbox! :)

            You wrote:

            “I’m actually not too sure about your version of the weight critique. I would have preferred that guy’s original comment (even if it was tactless), because your version doesn’t tell me anything about what needs to be done (or at least what the sender feels needs to be done). For example, “take even more care of your physical form” seemed like an insinuation that the receiver is not taking care of his/her physical form, which may not be true at all and may be interpreted as an insult. The other thing is that the comment is so ambiguous that it lost the intended message (which is to lose weight). A thought that came in my mind was, “Physical form? What physical form?” It came across as “this sender has something that he/she wants to say, but is beating about the bush”, which can easily create a disingenuous and sticky atmosphere (IMO).”

            You are quite right on that point, I was too ambiguous. I should have chosen my words more carefully and kept the same structure but being clear about what I thought you should improve.

            And also:

            “My issue was the implicit assumption that one must be at a certain weight or look a certain way to be considered inspiring; also I believe that he had made that comment in consideration that I’m a female, which made it sexist.
            [...]
            it didn’t matter even if I was or if anyone was overweight; consider figures like Oprah Winfrey and Susan Boyle, who are extremely heavy set but inspire millions in the world. (They should lose weight for health reasons and so on, but the suggestion that a female’s weight (or anyone’s weight for that matter) affects her ability to inspire is incredibly insulting IMO.)”

            I would go further and suggest that someone that seeks to inspire people should actually display their personal flaws. No-one is perfect, so it’s disingenuous to pretend it.

            How are others supposed to empathise with Mr. or Ms. perfect? How can such a person understand our struggles and difficulties? Owning up to our flaws will do much more to endear us to others that to show off how incredibly smart/talented/beautiful (that’s me, by the way! =D Also, modest. ) /spiritually fulfilled we are.

            I wear my flaws openly on my sleeve. I am aware of them, and try to minimize them for my sake, but I don’t try to hide them. I’m sure no-one would like me if I was perfect. :D

            • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

              I would… suggest that someone that seeks to inspire people should actually display their personal flaws. No-one is perfect, so it’s disingenuous to pretend it.

              That’s definitely true, Luis! I totally agree with you and that’s something which I focus on doing on PE as well. I personally refer to them as areas of improvement rather than “flaws” though, as I think the latter tends to have the connotation that there’s something wrong about those things in question and there’s an evaluation scale that marks whether they are “flawless” or “flawed” (when there’s no right or wrong; I personally see the perfection in imperfection). I think there is strength in showcasing “vulnerability” as some might call it (I see it as authenticity and realness), and true strength actually comes from being vulnerable and learning to be true to oneself.

              I like that you try to be thoughtful and add something supportive with comments/critique. I think that’s a great trait which I’m sure your clients really appreciate. :D

  • http://hackmyheart.com Alexa

    I think I have to request a manifesto again for this one Celes, haha! I’m not sure if it’s worth the time as you have one on dealing with critical people and giving criticism, but I certainly know I’d use it. =p

    The reason I like this is because I don’t deal with criticism well. I try to, but I don’t have a thick skin and so I can be easily hurt/affected by it. If someone criticizes me I tend to go into “what’s wrong with me?” mode and totally over think the situation until I feel awful about myself and wonder why I even try. Yes, sounds as dramatic as it is, but I have an over-active imagination when it comes to these things. ^^;

    The worst is when I ask for criticism and I think I can handle it, but then before I know it I let any negativity really bring me down. It’s like I go in thinking I’ll be able to handle it, but my past experiences seem to automatically make me go into “woe is me” mode. It’s awful when I get moody like that, but I almost can’t seem to make it stop happening. I guess I do it subconsciously with the hope that if I take it bad, the other person will say something positive and make me feel better, but I hate that I seem to “guilt” people into saying things they may not mean just so I feel assured of myself.

    Anyway, great tips as always! I’m surprised I didn’t respond to this earlier, so I knew I had to come back and comment on it. =) This is another article that will be super useful to me in the future!

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Alexa, thanks for your suggestion! :D I think I’ll probably pass on this suggestion though, as I want to keep the manifestos solution-focused (like “How to…” rather than “Why…” type topics). The solution-focused topics are more useful for most readers than explanation or justification-type topics (where you read once, get the idea, and there’s no need to refer to them again-not in the same way as the ‘how-to’ topics, any way).

      I’m so sorry to hear about your general experiences with criticism. I think you’ll definitely find the tips in this article very useful in overcoming the situation you are in.

      I think #4, on seeing things in a different light, is a great one for me. What helped me to truly embrace criticism today is actually #2, on reaching new people. That resonates with me a lot because my passion is to reach more people, so whenever I get a new criticism, that actually serves as an indicator that I’m making progress in my goal (to reach more people)! That’s why every new criticism I get, I celebrate it; I don’t feel dreadful or weary or negative about it but see it as an awesome milestone that has been achieved.

      If you can find a way to re-frame your resistance toward criticism, that might actually help you to permanently overcome the hesitance and embrace criticism fully.

      • http://hackmyheart.com Alexa

        Thanks for the thoughts, Celes! And no worries, I totally see what you mean in wanting to keep it “how to”. =)

        I’ll definitely have to try and find a way to reframe criticism so I don’t resist it. It’s one of those things I’m afraid of when I know I shouldn’t be, so hopefully I can figure out a thought/frame of mind that works! =)

        • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

          Thanks for understanding, Alexa! :D Not sure if you have already done this, but maybe you can print out the article (the portion with just the 9 reasons), which can serve as a great pinup for the noticeboard. :D

          • http://hackmyheart.com Alexa

            Thanks, Celes! That’s exactly the part I clipped into Evernote haha! =)

  • Anna

    Hey Celes,

    I REALLY enjoyed this article. It definitely changed my perspective on criticism. Kudos to you! Keep up the great work.

    :heart: :heart: :heart:

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Thanks for your kind words Anna! I really appreciate it. :D

  • Muthiah

    Hello
    I deeply inspired by this website today.I understand the purpose of life…..Now i am very eager to fix my goals and then start working……Thanks for such an inspiration in life….I am going with start with creating a life handbook………

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      That’s great, Muthiah. :D Thanks so much for sharing and I wish you all the best with your life handbook!

  • http://coachingwithjoe.com Joe Lee

    Awesome piece of article! It can be painful to receive criticism as we have put in effort and then the icy cold water came pouring down. The initial emotion can be hard to deal with. But if we continue to take those criticism in a positive note, we will look at it only as a feedback. Then the question of do I want to take note of these feedbacks. Truth is some are valuable, some are just personal attacks.

    The first time I was doing a presentation for an hour, feedback from the audience on the spot was “a lousy speaker.” That was my biggest take away. It seems like a personal attack, but really the audience was pointing to my performance.

    Thank you for inspiring the world and me in your own way!

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