Taking Criticism Gracefully

Taking criticism gracefully.

As a designer, I have made my shares of mistakes.  Like most people, I do not like hearing criticism.  I realise that most of us make mistakes from time to time, carelessly or irresponsibly.  Whatever the reason it will be often noticed and commented on.  In our daily lives, the way one reacts to criticism is extremely important.  I discovered a short essay by William Wallace Rose who was an American Unitarian minister who wrote a syndicated newspaper column.  His writing could what we today describe as ‘self-help’.  He published the collection of these writings in a book called “Thoughts for Today: Everday Resources for Living (1945). This article was published in the 1960’s, its sentiments resonated with me.

Taking Criticism Gracefully,

By William Wallace Rose

It is much too bad that the very word criticism implies a tearing-down process, rather than a judging process.  For criticism can be constructive and beneficial, as well as devastating.

It is a failure to see this which arouses our deeper resentments when criticised and becomes one of life’s recurrent sources of irritation.  Not many there are who can take the criticism gracefully.

We resent criticism because it strikes at our self-esteem and rolls the water of our complacency.

One outstanding psychologist, Adler, rates the ego-complex first among the root causes of most of the emotional upsets of men and women.  Criticism of any kind wounds the ego.

Adler points to the super-sensitive people whose feelings are so easily hurt; to bullies and braggarts, to the envious and the jealous, and says in effect: Here are the tremendous egotists who will not meet life on its own terms.  Among those terms is submission to the judgement (criticism) of others.

Of course, the sensible way to meet the critic and oppositionist is to ask oneself whether the verdict is fair and the opposition reasonable.  If either is the case, then correct the fault, and your critic and adversary become your friend and advocate.  If the criticism is petty and mean, then forget it and get on with your work!

Epictetus once wrote: “If a man is reported to have spoken ill of you, make no defence, but say, ‘He did not know the rest of my faults, else he would not have mentioned only these.”

That’s taking criticism the right way — with humility and humour.

teamSimon is a Sydney based digital designer. He is the Director of a boutique digital design studio, Bailey Street Design located in the vibrant inner west suburb of Newtown. Simon studied graphic design at Shillington College and specialises in web design for small and medium size businesses. Simon and his team (Toby the studio dog) are passionate about visual communication in the digital environment.

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