© 2015 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
Did you wince when you read the title of this article? I still, always, flinch when I see or hear the word “criticism”. That’s because of my experiences with people literally shouting their negative views of me when I was young. For most people, criticism is actually harmless. But sometimes it hurts to hear it. And while our feelings may be hurt when someone thinks we should improve, there may be great value somewhere in their comments.
Famous positivizer Norman Vincent Peale said,
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
There can be career gold in someone’s evaluation of our writing. But let us differentiate between grousing and useful criticism. Negativity reveals the most about the commenter.
Recently, I met someone whose conversation really turned me off. We were at a speaker event. I found the two speakers well-informed, clear, and compelling. They gave me so much to think about that I was fairly lost in my happy muse. Suddenly, one attendee near me launched into a stream of evaluative commentary, aimed at the primary speaker. He offered one negative comment, then another, then yet another. He criticized the content and effectiveness of the presentations. He even offered that much of the one presentation had been “off-topic”. So impressed was he, by his wonderful and incisive criticism, that he repeated portions of it several times.
I disagreed with all of this man’s points. And I was embarrassed at his persistence and unnecessary negativity. Others must have also been wondering, “[W]ho does he think he is?” Days later, I wondered if he had belonged to a debate club or speech club at some point. Some of those groups are structured to invite evaluative remarks after talks. Otherwise, common courtesy is to keep ANY negative thoughts to yourself.
Have you ever been the one who was utterly incensed by a speaker or presenter or even a pastor? Definitely, I personally have been there. If this ever happens to you, then you have a number of alternatives. In general, do not waste your time or energy staying around people who truly drain you. Remember, you are always at choice.
(1) Go to the restroom. Stay until you can be positive about something.
(2) Say “excuse me- I have to go” to the people who invited you, and slip out, in a relaxed-looking way. I once felt the need to do this, shortly into a famous person’s show. On the way to my car, I discovered the hotel had a beautiful fire circle set up for those who might be out for a walk that chilly night. I stayed there for an hour, stargazing and listening to Heaven. I turned the unpleasant experience into the memory of a lifetime.
(3) Forgive their imperfections and simply nod while smiling politely; raise your eyebrows a little while smiling, to communicate your receptivity. Make notes for your next article, character, or chapter, while looking up now and then and nodding thoughtfully.
And before you report to anyone that you had such a deadly experience, consider what Criticism Stress you may be creating. Ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
Now having considered the times when you felt the urge to offer criticism, imagine others reading your writing. People have every imaginable background, mood of the moment, and motivation. Some live to put others down. Some have low blood sugar or chronic migraines. Some are naturally cranky, or simply perfectionistic. Let them criticize if they will. Your job is to do your best job with your writing and let your soul, your values, and your passions shine through.
Elbert Hubbard said,
“The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.”
So the next time it’s your turn to be on the receiving end of potentially hurtful comments, don’t give in to Criticism Stress. Just look peacefully polite, and listen for possible gold. Now you’re growing as an Effective Author.
- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), plus the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition. Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine. Both that book and Peace Within are available through her office. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: email@example.com.