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January 28, 2023, 08:11:23 pm
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Author Topic: How do you handle criticism?  (Read 188 times)
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« on: January 24, 2023, 05:29:00 am »

Before we start, I know that I can be a pretty harsh critic and I have been like that for a while. If I ever harmed you from my many past comments, I am sorry. I know that criticism is a tough pill to swallow. Admittedly, I am the type of person who would sometimes take criticism as a personal attack against me and get demotivated. Please understand that no matter how mad my advice can be I am not trying to attack you, I am trying to guide you to making a better end result.

Now lets get into the actual topic!

What ultimately inspired me to make this topic is one moment in my history class where we had to make a final group project for the end of the quarter. Since I kinda don't like talking about personal topics I will be watering this story down while also keeping true to the story as close as possible. This final project was a presentation about... Political stuff... In each group we had roles, student 1 in group 1 was a researcher, student 2 in group 1 was a presenter, etc. But one thing that interested me was the "Political Artist" role where you got to make your own political cartoon.

I happen to actually quite enjoy Art and take Art class at the same school. Sure I wasn't exactly a "good" artist and would continuously perfect useless features in my art work (trying to avoid that habit). But I could surely take on the task of making a simple picture and exaggerate it. But that would completely shatter when I actually did it, and perfectly shows how fragile my ego is.

I started making a sketch which was a fat man with a really cartoons appearance and a small stick figure with text bubbles. The stick figure asked a simple request which the fat man responded "XD". I am not sure if this was my gen z humor kicking in, but while coming up with it in my head I thought it was really funny to me for some reason. And while expecting the same reaction to come from my classmates I then showed it to the Group...

"How is this related to the (Group Topic)?"
- Student who I am not naming for privacy

After getting this I started feeling shy in a bad way. While it was true that they where trying to help, like what I said in the disclaimer above. But to me, that comment really hurt, and I just remained silent while they where trying to tell me what exactly the meaning of the piece was. I ended up throwing away the art work as a result and continued to stand motionless in my chair really doubting myself as an artist. After about 10 minutes of doing nothing I stood up and walked to the teacher.

I told him that I don't want to do the political cartoon anymore, which in response he asked me to go outside of the class to have a chit chat and I closed the door. He asked me about what happened and I told him about how I showed the group my sketch, what they said, and how I felt because of it. I didn't tell him what was in the art piece or what was happening in my mind. But it seemed like he understood and told be about how sometimes a teenager's criticism can be a little harsh by accident. After that he simply told me to take a short break to calm down.

I hope that my story didn't make me look childish, the teacher was actually really cool about it.

Now that we are at the end of the topic, can you reply to me things about criticism? Maybe another story?

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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2023, 03:24:04 pm »

This may not be very good because I fall into the same trap of taking criticism as a personal hit but I generally try to look at what they pointed out and take an outside perspective. From there I decide if I agree and make changes based on that. No matter what, always remember that people accidentally sound mean a lot and it usually wasn't meant that way, we are very quick to jump to conclusions like that. All in all just remember that at the end of the day you made something, the fact that you did that and that somebody noticed it in the first place is already a good sign :)

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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2023, 12:00:18 am »

Oh I am horrible with criticism. In part for the same reason that you've described, but also because I'm stubborn as hell, and I'm almost never able to get over myself.

It all, of course, depends on a subject. Like, when someone points out some part of my website coding that sucks - that's fine, 'cause I'm perfectly aware of that and I agree.

But if it's, say, about my English, which is part of my profession, or my art, which, while I'm no master, I still take a certain amount of pride in, then it gets complicated. Like, sure, I can take criticism. If I specifically asked for it. From a person I fully and consciously accept as superior to me in skill and/or experience.

But asking for it is still a requirement. I can't tell you how many times I'd get stubborn and angry in response to a critique from my literal teachers. 'Cause I didn't ask for it. I was content with what I had and then someone presented me with the fact that it's not good enough. Like, did I ask? That's not a proper reaction, I know, but it's a knee-jerk one. Even on a group project like you described - I would either shut down in pure spite, as in "if you don't like that I have then I won't participate at all, eat that", or try to insist on my idea regardless. Depends on how much I like it myself I guess.

There were multiple instances in my life when people who drew better than me tried to give me advice and I refused to take it 'cause it pissed me off that that implied they were better than me. Which they were. And I knew that. But I didn't like them acknowledging that fact. Only a couple of times I actually managed to force myself to listen and I use that advice to this day. I wonder how better I could be if I listened more often.

But I'm prideful, stubborn and determined to get things done my own way, so usually, unless I asked, I dig my heels in and refuse to change or improve. Until I get to the same thing, but, like, five years later  :P

The worst thing is that this reflex is so strong that it doesn't matter how aware I am of it being bad, it blocks all my braincells when it kicks in. Still a long way to go  :-\

That all might be a response to the fact that I was criticised quite often as a child. I couldn't get a lot of things right for different reasons as a child, so apparently my psyche decided that an angry "Well, actually, YES, I am not perfect at some things, so WHAT" would make for a nice defence mechanism.

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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2023, 10:37:33 pm »

In general, I think there is a significant difference between circumstances where someone is attempting to be insulting and when they are sincerely offering constructive criticism. Although, it might not always be evident which is which. Insults are usually done through name-calling, while constructive criticism is often accompanied by an explanation as to why an action might be beneficial to us. There are also instances when people just plainly state their own opinions (e.g.: "I like it" or "I hate it" without any further elaboration on their personal experiences).

I strongly agree with what SilkSkull has said. People are not always aware of how their words / behaviors are perceived by others. My approach to handling it is also similar...

Whatever the case may be, I always attempt to keep my composure and decide if what is said is useful. I try not to take anything personally. Oftentimes, whether or not someone else appreciates something that we do is simply a matter of personal taste. If it is a constructive action, then I will not let anyone discourage me from doing it.

Likewise, not all of the advice that we receive may be applicable to us, but I can gratefully acknowledge when someone is attempting to be helpful and be humble enough to listen. I want to learn from everyone and everything. No one person is capable of being fully aware and informed of every situation. We need each other to expand our points of view to better encompass reality.

However, I try to never return an insult for an insult, as that usually escalates into an argument. Sometimes people are addicted to whipping up drama, or they are of the belief that being difficult with others gives them some small sense of "control" over their own lives. Therefore, if peaceful dialogue is just not happening despite my best efforts, then I will minimize interaction with that person as much as possible. Nothing is ever gained by fighting, yet much can be lost almost instantly. There are situations where learning to keep a sense of calm can literally save one's life. Our emotional responses can provide useful information, but we must be cautious of reacting through them in ways that end up causing us problems.

As for a personal story...

I remember when I was in high school and an acquaintance of mine questioned why I was drawing the subject matter that I was. He then proceeded to tell me that he thought someone else's art was "better".

I simply nodded, but inside, it upset me so much that I stopped doing art for a little while. Please do not let that happen to you. Do art because you love doing it. If you do it for praise, then you will most likely end up disappointed when such praise is not forthcoming. Further, please do not compare yourself to others. Everyone is unique and we all focus on different things. When I finally realized all of this, then I felt a sense of freedom from judgment and could enjoy doing art again whether I had people to cheer me on or not. This kind of approach has worked for me with other activities too, like writing and making music.

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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2023, 01:26:01 am »

Sometimes I can take criticism well, but usually it hurts me beyond belief even if it is constructive and helpful and all. I can't handle rejection and I certainly can't handle someone telling me that I'm not literally perfect.

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