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Monday, September 20, 2010

Keeping Critics in Perspective

In any job, you will be criticized at some point. But the fact is that nobody likes criticism. However there is constructive criticism and destructive criticism and it's important to assess both types. Here is how you keep critics in perspective:

1. First of all, consider the source. Should this person's opinion even matter to you?

2. If it does matter to you, take a few minutes to consider whether anything helpful can result from the criticism. Others can often see things that we have overlooked. Use their keen eyes to your advantage. Too often, people instantly reject an idea, phrasing, or strategy without truly listening attentively to the entire thing.

3. Critics serve their purpose. Sometimes they serve a larger purpose, and sometimes they serve their own purpose. A good example is Simon Cowell from American Idol. He was very critical of the performers on the show but was fair and honest and the show is not the same without him.

4. Everyone has an opinion. In most cases, it's not worth the paper it's written on.

5. If the opinion is worth the paper it's written on, and it's written in a paper people are buying and reading, then realize that if people didn't find you interesting enough for public consumption, they wouldn't be taking the time to criticize you. Think of their criticism as a compliment, proof of your significance.

In the 2007 film "Ratatouille," Anton Ego, a notoriously harsh English food critic sums up the picture of keeping critics in perspective. He says, "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations..."

I credit the inspiration of this post to Donald Trump, someone who knows about "Surviving at the Top"!

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