November 2, 2012

Negative Evaluation

Rules in handling negative evaluation from others:

Rule #1

If someone is criticizing something you’ve done, that’s a sign that you’ve done something to criticize! You’ve taken a risk and chosen something that’s a challenge. Receiving criticism is therefore a badge of courage. Congratulate yourself! Doing something new and challenging, even if you’re not yet good at it, is infinitely more rewarding than being praised for doing the same old thing well.

Rule #2

Consider criticism to be valuable feedback. If you don’t take criticism as a personal attack, but rather look at it as an indicator of an area in which you need to improve or change course, you can use the feedback to self-correct. Think about a guided missile system. It has built-in monitors to detect when it’s heading off course so that other parts of the guidance system can make the correction and get back on track. If you can put aside feeling personally attacked, you can use the feedback in criticism as part of your own self-correcting guidance system.

Rule #3

Do not defend yourself if criticized. When you receive criticism, it’s very easy to feel as if you’re being put on the defensive; this can make you feel that you need to take a stand and defend your work or your actions. Once you begin to defend your work, it is very unlikely that you will learn anything from the information others are trying to give you. Instead, you will entrench yourself in the position against the criticism. You learn nothing and your critic has wasted his or her breath in trying to give you some feedback. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll actually launch a counterattack, and the person who was offering you feedback will become your adversary. Even if someone has delivered hostile or unjust criticism (perhaps out of jealousy or spitefulness), do not defend your position. Rather, thank the person for their feedback and ignore the criticism. Do not be pulled into battle by a hostile critic.

Rule #4

Rephrase the main points of the criticism. In most cases, spitefulness or hostility is not the motive for the criticism. Therefore, listen actively to what the person delivering the criticism has to say (that means you don’t spend the time while they’re talking to you planning what you’re going to say back to them). When they’re finished, paraphrase in a neutral (not angry or sarcastic) tone the points you think they were making. Example: “Okay, it sounds like you think my novel moves too slowly and that I need to develop the character of Edward more. You also think the description of the dinner party is too long. Is that right?” Now the person delivering the criticism can straighten out any misunderstandings, and he or she will feel that they’ve been heard. Note that this rule also applies if the person has delivered their criticism via e-mail, letter, or newspaper opinion column.

This rule has two advantages for you: first, it takes the personal sting out of the criticism; it’s much easier to hear the criticism when it’s voiced in your own words. Second, it defuses the confrontational aspects of the criticism and makes the criticism part of a collaboration; it puts you and the critic on the same team working together to make your work better. When engaging in creative work, it’s always better to have helpers rather than adversaries.

Rule #5

Thank the person criticizing your work for their feedback. Note that by thanking the person, you are not agreeing to incorporate their criticism. In private, you can analyze the criticism and decide whether to use it or disregard it. This step is also a good way to deal with blowhards and naysayers who are criticizing you for criticism’s sake or to make themselves look important.

Rule #6

Determine the value of the criticism objectively. Once you’ve received criticism, look for the evidence for and against its validity. Try to do this objectively, and analyze each point of criticism separately. Even blowhards can offer valid points of criticism. After you’ve done an evidential analysis, you can decide whether to make changes based on the criticism. This rule also removes the subjective sting of the criticism and helps you deal with it objectively.

[Source: Your Creative Brain Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life]

No comments:

Post a Comment