Written by: Jenn Drakes
There are so many situations in life where we face personalized feedback – work, school, sports, home, and online. Sometimes there are even situations in which we are directly confronted with feedback like for job performance meetings. Other times we solicit feedback or it is provided ‘a la carte’. In either case, when received, some struggle to accept feedback, seeing it as negative instead of constructive.
To really wrap our heads around the notion of ‘criticism’ is to understand the word at a definitional level. As per Google “Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something.” That “something” can include each of us individually. The term given to a person delivering critical commentary is ‘critic’ while the action is called ‘critiquing’. The notion of ‘criticism’, on the other hand, is dependent on how the receiver perceives the judgement, the opinion, or the critique whether it is positive or negative. However, the idea of criticism seems to typically carry with it a sense of negativity. It is this aspect of perceived offense which makes the discussion of criticism so very interesting; perhaps even fascinating. You, as the receiver of someone’s words, must perceive said words as judgemental and negative for the criticism to be inherently so. In fact, you must perceive the commenter in the role of a critic. So, there is a mental attitude to the topic. No surprise there, I hope, as most individual circumstances are based on mindset and perception.
Now, in the online world, criticism flourishes because platforms assign the role of a critic to the masses by using the term ‘Comments’ for their feedback areas. This allows anyone, if not everyone, to critique others, and conditions those subjected to the comments to perceive criticism. In contrast, when the same masses interact on chat lines, they seem to communicate very differently and non-critically. Is that difference because the perception is one of having an interaction that is not based necessarily on feedback? I believe so, but what I have presented here is by no means scientific, but it is interesting. Over the years, what I have confirmed is that people cannot criticize or insult those that do not perceive the commentary as such.
What all this means and demonstrates is that each of us actually holds the power to manage our response(s) by viewing every encounter through a non-critical lens and influencing what type of encounter we have. It is also about seeing personalized feedback as an opportunity to evaluate the merit for personal improvement. If our own evaluation of the information provided creates an opportunity, then we either choose to seize that opportunity or choose not to. Applying this perspective to these types of interactions brings you at arms-length from personalizing the comments of others, and translates such feedback into a choice that lies with you. It empowers you to evaluate every commentary from a positive or light-hearted perspective.
About The Author: Jenn Drakes is passionate about life, and fully living it. Her podcast Arrays of Living is about encouraging listeners to get unstuck, learn from the past, but move beyond it, grow personally, and live their best life.