Or Destructive Criticism?
We all need a sound board. Someone who will be honest with us about how we might improve. Sometimes, however – the people that we choose for that role aren’t exactly well suited for it. So, how do you decide who to trust with your most vulnerable self? It’s really easy to explain, but it’s not so easy to put into practice. We are creatures of habit and if we become used to harsh, unhelpful criticism, it’s what we come to expect. It’s what we become comfortable with. Hard to believe we’d show up for that, over and over again, but many of us do.
So what is Criticism?
So the question begs..
Why Would Anyone Offer Destructive Criticism?
Well, some people are just mean. But that’s not what I think goes on most of the time. I think many of the people who don’t offer kind, constructive criticism, are they themselves, frustrated creatives. Julia Cameron refers to them as “Shadow Artists”. People, who for one reason or another aren’t making their own art and try to live a life as close to the life that they want to lead as possible. So they become managers, handlers, gallery owners etc. Now, not all those people would offer destructive criticism, but a little resentment goes a long way in that department.
It could even be as simple as a parent, relative, or friend who is resentful of your creativity. Because, they should be creating or because they feel that you’re getting a little big for your britches. (Hint: you’re not)
So, how do you tell the difference?
Well, as creatives, we’re all super sensitive and that’s ok, but it makes us have to be that more diligent in figuring out whether the criticism we’re receiving is constructive or destructive. There are plenty of times that constructive criticism will sting, but you just need to go a little deeper and figure out.
- Does the advice actually add something to the product?
- Does the criticism have valid points? (be honest with yourself here)
- Is the person offering the criticism using kind words, or not?
- Does it help you improve the work?
- Is it about your work, piece, art? Or is it a comment about you, on a more personal level?
If you can answer these questions and decide that it is about the work, adds to the product, does not personally attack you, and has the potential to help you improve the work, then yes. That’s constructive. If it doesn’t, find someone else to help you evaluate your work.
Do you need some help with this? Contact me, I’d love to talk to you about it.
Photo Credit: John Hain