Embracing Criticism


I was always taught not to be critical of people. If a critique is necessary, I've learned it's important to focus on the positive, and then sneak a little constructive criticism in.

I was recently reminded how absolutely freeing and awesome it can be to receive, accept, contemplate, and make even harsh criticism work for you. I am vowing to work hard to remember to seek out, receive and look forward to criticism. And I'm not biting my lip as I write this, really.

Let's face it, criticism can be hard to take! And it can be easy to dismiss good suggestions when the critic is less than gentle with us.

We all want to be told how awesome our work is, how hilarious and brilliant we all are. The problem is, as nice as that can be, it doesn't lead to much improvement does it?

I built a course earlier in the year that served its purpose as part of a blended course for compliance training. This past month I needed to review it, add to it, and re-launch it for a different audience. In the process I received quite a deal of criticism about it.

My initial reaction was, “Well, they just don’t understand what we were going for!” And “Boy, what a jerk, he doesn’t need to be so rude about it!”. Then I thought, “Well, okay, I’ll just give them their crappy redo, they’ll see how wrong they are!”

As I cooled down a bit, I realized my bruised ego wasn't doing anyone any good – least of all myself. I brought myself around, “Yeah, Darlesa, why not?! The training isn't really for you is it? It’s for them. Okay, so they might not really understand why I put it together this way, but it’s not their job to, it’s mine. How can I give them the experience they want while maintaining good, motivating, and engaging instruction?”

Today we launched the new version. I can say, this truly is an improved product that is more appropriate for this audience. I can also say that I wouldn't have done this particular work on it without the help of my harsh, critical collaborators.

Sometimes raw and honest criticism can really help you see something in a whole new way. You just need to be open to the experience, sort out what people are really saying, and not take it personally.

From now on I vow to seek out honest critiques and utilize them to help me improve. After all, It’s not about me, it’s about the learners.

Bring on the jerks! They just made me a hero!

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