July 28, 2008

Constructive Criticism

Filed under: Emo (EQ), Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 2:35 pm

Still learning to handle this.  And I consider myself pretty good with criticism.

Here’s the thing.  No one likes to be critiqued, even when we know we need it.  But we do need it.  Having someone point out your flaws is like getting arm hairs plucked out one by one.  It hurts and is only made more excruciating for the intervals between yanks.  Yet without that critique, we fall short.  Our personal biases get in the way of us doing our jobs as well as we possibly can.

Synergy is needed in teams, and part of that synergy is accepting that we aren’t perfect.  That our efforts sometimes will need a little revision, editing and reinforcement from our peers.  I recently had an incident where I had to swallow my pride about some copy writing.  It wasn’t easy, but my initial piece wasn’t where it needed to be, it had to be redirected for a proactive call to action.  So I took the advice, scrapped it and rewrote everything.  And it worked.  The final product now is far superior to the first draft.  But that doesn’t mean it was an easy pill to swallow.  How can we force ourselves to be more open to interpretation?  Honestly?

We are usually our own biggest critics.  I know I am.  But when it comes to letting others join in the criticism, it’s much more difficult.  Just as we can complain and make derision laced tirades about our loved ones, we take exception to others thinking the right inclusive.  The same goes for our work; but that has to change.

Flip side:  Watch what you say in criticism.  The people you mean to encourage and provide positive/constructive feedback to are just as easily put off as yourself.  So framing your words and alterations in a positive light is needed.  Think about what you are critiquing and focus on the work.  No ad hominem stuff.  Focus on the work.  Also, be sure to point out the positive things.  Make note of a clever format, turn of phrase or informative and poignant paragraph.  Be open to the fact that you have personal biases in your critiques and they may not be shared by everyone (or anyone)!

You are not judge, jury and executioner of an idea.  Even if your title says otherwise.  We all slip up, and it’s a steep mountain we tread.


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