Don’t Call it Criticism!

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

Bill Gates

In my childhood, teens, and even twenties, I saw criticism as a negative thing and unwanted.  When someone would tell me something that I wanted to change, I would get emotionally injured and not want to listen to them.  Even when professors put comments on my paper, I would get upset and not even read what they had to say.

Once I got in my thirties, I realized how important criticism was to my growth, but I still hated to hear it.  Why?  Because it was criticism.  It was something negative toward me and I didn’t like it at all.  What?  I am not perfect!

Nope, I am not!  Now, that I am older and understand what it takes to succeed in life, I realize that we don’t call it criticism.  Criticism is a negative word that most of us associate with failure- although failure is a good thing (we’ll talk about that in a different blog)- I have decided to change the word from criticism to feedback.

When I teach my middle school students English, I no longer talk about criticism.  Instead, I tell my students that I am giving them feedback.  When students get upset, I simply say, “It’s just feedback so you can grow as a reader and writer.”

This has changed the way they take comments concerning their reading and writing.  They usually go right to work trying to perfect their work by taking my feedback.  If it helps 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students, how much could it help us to think of others’ criticism as feedback instead of negative criticism that we had to accept?

When we speak of feedback, we don’t have to take feedback.  We evaluate the feedback and take it or leave it.  There is some feedback that we shouldn’t take, because the person either doesn’t understand all components of what we are trying to accomplish, or they are ill-willed and don’t want us to succeed.  Jealous people can try to tear you down by giving you bad advice.

Here are some great examples of the great feedback I have received.  In my early years at college, I received great feedback about my writing.  I had a great composition teacher at the University of Southern California.  When I got to graduate school and needed to write thesis papers, I received a lot of feedback from various professors and my peers.

If I had not listened to their feedback, I would probably not have my bachelors, masters, or write a blog.  When I write my blogs, I have Brenton read them and give me feedback.  Taking his feedback helps me to write with more confidence.  Of course, sometimes I still have to check my attitude toward his feedback.  These are the times I check my attitude and either take his advice or go ahead and publish my blog without changes.

Now it’s Your Turn:

It is time for you to take a look at the criticisms that you have received.  Change the thought of criticism to feedback.  If you look at the criticism and see that it is helpful, take the feedback and change what you need to change.  On the other hand, if it is not helpful, don’t change anything.

It is also important to ask for feedback.  When you are working on anything, ask for someone to read, listen to, or view your work.  You will see a big difference in your growth.

True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.

Daniel Kahneman
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