How can I make criticism more comfortable?

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It’s not supposed to be comfortable. Even if it’s the most gentle and constructive criticism in the world, it’s going to sting, just like a flu shot. It’s never enjoyable to have anyone point out that you are making a mistake that you had not noticed.

Bruce Nauman Mean Clown Welcome 1985

When they are pointing out well-worn flaws, it’s not really criticism, but more like what I call “rude,” and that’s pretty easy to swat away with, “Thanks for noticing, my Spanish IS mucho embarrassioso,” or, “Yes, I am very short in this kitchen.”

Another clue to fake criticism is that it won’t be uncomfortable. In that case, it’s merely opinion. “Thank you for reading (even if you think I’m fulla crap).”

When presented with actual constructive criticism, don’t waste the opportunity by being defensive or attacking your nurse-critic. (It’s not easy for them either, especially if you squirm).

Try hard to remember that it’s good for you and you’ll probably learn something.

Try harder to understand what they are saying instead of mounting your defense.

You can’t really listen when your mind is occupied with clearing escape routes and loading weapons. 

Paying attention is the only way we learn anything. Chances are, if their statement bothers you, there’s some truth nugget that you need to examine and consider.

Thank them because they probably are making an effort to be helpful. If they aren’t attempting to be helpful, it’s then mildly funny that you thanked them.

Vulnerability is essential to growth. Here’s a delightful video that covers how that works: Brene Brown on Shame. G’head and be vulnerable!! It’s good for you!!

I’m amazed to see how well and graciously you young’uns absorb criticism. You must have learned some of it from older-me, because younger-me was really awful at it. When I was about twenty years old, I gave up any idea of being a designer because I found it completely excruciating to sit in a room with people picking apart my work. I couldn’t even acknowledge what they were saying and just sat there and silently hated all over them. (My abandonment of design may also have had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t draw).

srsly cant draw


So, yeah, it can be awful to listen to another person (who may be a complete bonehead!) tell you that you are not perfect, but just imagine how much worse it is for my Special Snowflake Generation.

Be a gentle critic with us.

Then go out and bravely get your perfection shots.


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