Critique is something all creatives will face from time-to time, and it’s easy to be particularly sensitive when coming up against somebody offering less than flattering feedback.
There are many ways you can choose to handle this, but here are 4 steps in particular that I’ve found to be quite effective:
Step 1: Understanding the critiqueYou’ve put effort into a project only to have it fall on “deaf ears”, a live performance doesn’t get the desired reaction, a song concept is rejected by your peers but you’re not sure why – then ask!
In order to make sense of the reason for someone’s displeasure – you must ask. Unless you’re superhuman (specifically Professor X), you cannot read minds, and not asking creates the risk of making that same mistake again. After all, criticism is only constructive if you can learn from it!
In order for you to not become conceited, seeing every possible comment that isn’t a compliment, as a dig, you need to become aware of the fact that sometimes, opinion just means a person’s dislike of your work, is simply a matter of preference.
Step 2: Accepting the critiqueYou’ve understood the reasons behind the harsh words: You’ve managed to refrain from having a hissy fit or resorting to returning insults, and you’ve decided not take anything too personally. Great!
Accepting the fact that you might not appeal to everyone is a key element is getting along as an artist. Once you’ve understood the reasons behind the critique, and decided whether itís something you wish to take on board or not – it can no longer affect you.
Step 3: Embracing the criticiserAt all costs, avoid being drawn into a pointless game of one-upmanship.
We’ve all seen or heard about entertaining Twitter-feuds, shocking Facebook revelations and other forms of scandalous exposé that shed light of the inner goings on of the mainstream music industry, and more often than not such feuds are usually fuelled by differences of opinions from the artists in question and their “haters”.
As fun as these stories are to read about, there is something to be learned here:
Instead of wasting time trying to get your own back on the person that offended you, embrace them!
If you can’t physically do so in person, be sure to respond to them in real time (by using the inter-web for example); You’d be surprised at the reaction you might get once you get a civilized dialogue going with the perpetrator – remember, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!
Step 4: Moving onOnce you’ve understood, accepted and embraced the critique, youíll be all set – to forget it! The criticism that is, not the lesson.
You see, carrying every negative comment ever made about you around, will do nothing for your self-esteem. Besides, as long as you exist, theyíll be people in existence that ruffle your feathers and that, you cannot avoid.
And so to conclude with some very humbling words once spoken by Aristotle:
To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. - Aristotle