Why Criticism Is Your Best Friend

Criticism is extraordinarily helpful and at the same time, it can be extraordinarily destructive. It depends on where it is coming from.

Early on, I connected with someone I admire and believe has my best interests in mind. When he says something critical about what I am doing or writing, I accept it wholeheartedly. Why? Because I know that it’s going to help me. It’s intended to help and not to hurt.

If you don’t know anyone like that yet, you should connect with someone you can trust to be honest with you, or join a group or forum where everyone gets critiqued. The ProBlogger.com forum members do a great job at critiquing (I had my About page critiqued there). In this way, you can reflect on things you probably didn’t realize you were doing and now need to stop, but in a way that is much less confrontational than when someone sends you a biting email or tough comment.

Evaluating Criticsm

Regardless of where the criticism comes from, you should evaluate it. Two questions I tend to internalize before taking criticism to heart are:

  • Is it true?
  • Does it provide solutions and or alternatives, or does it just leave me hanging?

The reason you want to evaluate criticism is so that you only spend time on that which will help you. Good criticism is priceless. We can’t see our own work the way other people do.

Handling Criticism

Everyone gets criticized, even pro bloggers. In fact, they probably get criticized more than anyone else. Not all of the criticism they get is constructive, either. But it’s part of the way this all works. At some point, someone is going to call you out for something.

Advice: take it like a pro.

Taking criticism like a pro is going to require that you actually know who you are, why you’re blogging, what your blog is about, and that you have a level of confidence that is difficult to shake. Pros don’t get publicly defensive (usually) and if they do, they’re criticized even more for acting like a baby.

Remember, it’s your blog. You can do with it what you want. No one is forced to become a reader or continue to read your blog, and you don’t have to answer to anyone. That said, by blogging, you’re turning yourself into a public figure, so when criticism surfaces, accept it, deal with it, and move on. Don’t let it get in the way. Either absorb it and let it help you or toss it.

Blogging Strategy: Planning for Criticism

How: One of the most popular channels of criticism for bloggers is going to be through the comments, so you may want to decide how you will deal with criticism received in that way. If the comments are rude, you might want to implement a no nonsense policy for that. But don’t censor comments just because you don’t like them. That won’t help you grow, nor does it help you to become more teachable. Instead, practice letting down your defenses a little bit.

What I’ve noticed with the bigger, more prominent bloggers is that their blogs started off very narrow in focus, with fewer points to argue. As they grew, they approached more gray area topics, and that’s when the criticism starts. As you write more often, broach new subjects, and show more of your real personality, you might start to receive more abrasive reactions. If you do, these are great – embrace them. They help you grow.

Other possible channels for criticism are Twitter and Facebook. If you run into criticism in either of those places, there’s not much you can do. We can’t control the whole world, unfortunately! Manage your reputation while at the same time, note what’s being said. It might mean something needs to change. You can effectively manage your reputation by staying visible even in the face of mounting criticism. You don’t always have to acknowledge it, even if they are right. Simply change what needs to be changed and move on. Don’t add fuel to a fire that is about to burn out.

Your Turn. What do you think about criticism?

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