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If you podcast long enough, you’re going to get criticism or negativity. You can’t create work and share it with the world without experiencing it.

One of the things we say in the Community is that you haven’t made it until you’ve got haters. If people feel strongly enough about what you’re doing to love it, then someone is going to feel strongly enough to hate it.

I’m still pretty unknown and I know that because I’ve only ever received negative feedback once. I could say that I just brushed it off, but it did affect me. Instead of letting it get me down, I sat with it. I thought about it. I analyzed why it made me feel the way it did.

I want to share what I’ve learned about feedback and criticism to help you process it when it comes to you (and it will), but also to help you give feedback more effectively and waste less time engaging with people or feedback that doesn’t really matter.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins:
  • Being negative or hurtful is not an effective way to give criticism.
  • When you receive criticism, stop for a second and see if there’s any truth to it.
  • Don’t argue with strangers on the internet.
  • People who are open to changing their mind will listen instead of arguing.
  • Great criticism is rare—seek it out from people you trust.
  • If you continue to blame your negativity on other people all the time, you’re missing an opportunity to feel happiness and gratitude.
Show Notes
  • 03:21 I want to start this episode off by sharing a blog post about criticism that Seth Godin published the other day, called The Paradox of the Flawless Record. He said, “If your work has never been criticized, it’s unlikely you have any work. Creating work is the point, though, which means that in order to do something that matters, you’re going to be criticized. If your goal is to be universally liked and respected and understood, then, it must mean your goal is to not do something that matters.
  • 04:07 Which requires hiding. Hiding, of course, isn’t the point. Hence the paradox. You don’t want to be criticized and you do want to matter. The solution: Create work that gets criticized. AND, have the discernment to tell the difference between useful criticism (rare and precious) and the stuff worth ignoring (everything else).”

What Is the Intention of the Person Criticizing Me?

  • 04:59 When someone gives you feedback or criticism, ask yourself: what is their intention? Hearing negative feedback sucks. It sucks to hear, “This thing you made isn’t very good and here’s why.” That’s hard and it hurts our egos. We like to think that everything we do is great. But stop for a second and see if there’s any truth to the criticism. Regardless of how negative the person is being, see if there’s any gold nuggets you can pull from it and apply to make your thing better. Your goal should always be to make your thing (blog post, podcast, writing, or video) better.

When I Provide Criticism, What is My Intention?

  • 06:05 Think about the last time you reached out to someone to talk about their work. Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that sharing how much you hate something will make your life better. The stuff you hate doesn’t make you special. That’s just your reaction, your opinion. If your goal really is to help someone make something better, being negative or hurtful is not an effective way to give criticism.

Great criticism is rare.

Seek it out from people you trust.

  • 07:29 Go to a friend or mentor you trust and say, “I made this thing. I want to know what you think about it. Please be honest about how you think I could improve it, if you think I could improve it. I appreciate your time.” Understand that you’re asking them for a favor; you’re asking them for time. Seek out constructive criticism from people you know and trust.
  • 07:53 Five questions to ask yourself when someone gives you negative feedback:

    1. Is this person trying to help or just trying to hurt?
    2. Is there anything useful I can learn from this feedback?
    3. If this feedback upsets me, why does it upset me?
    4. Have I accepted that not everyone will agree with me or love my work?
    5. Do I give feedback in a similar manner?
  • 09:03 There’s this saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your stupid mouth shut.” I’m not sure if that’s the exact saying, but it’s close enough. So there’s someone creating work you don’t like: what does telling that person they suck do besides make them doubt their abilities or make them feel something negative?
  • 09:29 Why is it necessary for you to tell someone that you don’t like what they do? I want to make it clear that I’m talking about creative work here like design, podcasting, making video, making music, or lettering. I’m not talking about the many injustices happening in the world. If someone is hurting someone else, then I do think it is fair to tell them that’s not acceptable. But if you’re just telling someone else that you don’t like their art, why are you wasting your time on that? What are you trying to accomplish?

Don’t Argue With Strangers on the Internet

  • 10:13 It never ends well. It’s one thing to have discussion with a friend who you know and respect. Things can get heated and that’s fine. But when you argue with strangers, especially online, neither of you have any reason to be kind or respecting. It’s really more about proving who is right. It’s a complete and total waste of time because neither person is looking for more information. Yelling at people you disagree with doesn’t get you anywhere.

People who are open to changing their mind will listen instead of arguing.

  • 12:08 I want to encourage you to be kind to other people. If you’re the kind of person who speaks unkindly to or about other people, I want you to ask why. What is it about their work that bothers you so much? Why do you feel the need to express that feeling to them?
  • 12:45 If you blame your negative feelings on other people, you’re missing an opportunity to feel happiness and gratitude. Expressing those feelings will amplify them in your mind. You’re giving someone else permission to make you feel a certain way. Some people just like to complain. They like to find things they don’t like or disagree with and just spend a bunch of time explaining why.
  • 13:30 I like to find awesome things in the world. I like to find things that are beautiful and make me happy. I like to focus on those things and give my time to those things, because I believe the emotions we choose to feel and choose to express publicly will be amplified through that expression. You only have so much time. Do you really want to spend it telling other people they aren’t good at something? Do you really care about those people?
  • 14:29 Why not spend your time helping the people you do care about? Why not help them with what they’re struggling with and teach them what you know in a kind and encouraging way instead of discouraging them? It comes down to this: talking smack to someone is not a good way to get people to change their behavior (unless you’re friends and they’re into that. Some people love that fiery motivation.) Focus on encouraging the people you care about. Let go of jealousy and anger and speak positivity to the people who are creating work that you love. You’ll be much happier if you do.