How to Deal With Criticism
Hope you're having a wonderful week in the sunshine, it's always bitter-sweet here as obviously sunshine is glorious and enjoyable but at the same time... I knit with huge wool for a living. haha I wouldn't change either the sunshine or the knitting for the world though, so crank up the fans and point them my way.
And super quick before I begin - there's still time to enter the giveaway I'm doing with Fenella Smith over on her colourful Instagram Click the button below to head over and enter before 9am Friday 29th June...
Let's get down to business
This week I wanted to talk a little about criticism as (yet again) it's something I've been chatting about on Instagram. Instagram is generally a place packed full of kindness and creativity but of course, as with all things there are a few people who don't get the memo. As it's where I spend most of my 'social time' I guess that's where I get the most abuse/criticism/comments. I'm fairly used to random rudeness in DM's and Comments and use just a few examples of personal criticism in this post. I do also want to point out that in this blog I'm referring to occasional poorly worded/unnecessary remarks rather than serious trolling or bullying which isn't as easy to get over.
Following a mildly unpleasant remark that slid into my DM's on Saturday I shared it in my stories (blocking out the names as I still firmly feel naming in shaming is rarely the answer) as I wanted to remind people that the unfollow and swipe away features are both available to all. We can't all get on - that's the beauty of human nature that we're all different and in so many cases that works brilliantly but it does also mean we won't all enjoy each others sense of humour/personalities etc and that's fine....but could we all just agree to remove ourselves from those situations rather than persisting for no reason and then criticising someone. Why follow accounts and watch the stories of people who annoy you anyway? Surely that will just spark negativity and annoyance rather than enjoying the people you follow on social media. So, my point is - if you don't like someone, just leave them to it.
What a shocker
It can come as a shock and I think that's the thing that throws us most of the time - you might be having a nice chat about your cup of tea on IG stories and suddenly some random woman tells you "you really need to get a lighter eyebrow pencil" (true story, that happened. In November last year - when I was DROWING in work and could barely wake myself up in the mornings....thanks for that one, stranger) It comes as such a shock that something you didn't even consider is being scrutinised by strangers on the internet. It makes you doubt yourself and worry that your doing something wrong. In hindsight and in that situation - yes my eyebrows were a little dark at the time but to be honest I couldn't care less, I didn't ask for opinions on my eyebrows, I didn't have time to go shopping for an alternative brow routine and I didn't need to be told that way. If you absolutely insist on criticising someone, maybe say it nicely at the very least or even better "If you don't have anything nice to say... don't say anything at all".
Helpful or Horrible
But in more generic cases (less brow related for instance) it's really easy to react instantly and feel hurt and upset when someone criticises us. I think it's human nature (especially to a sensitive sole like me :p) to take it personally and feel a little bit attacked. It's then easy to react defensively or equally rude back (we'll come onto that later) but in my growing experience with these matters the thing to do is to step back, try to take your personal opinions/feeling out of it and questions - do they have a point?
When we're sensitive it's easy to misread a situation (especially when it's in writing and you don't have the context of tone to help). I find it's good to give yourself a minute, take a step back and really think about it - it might not be intended that way, it may not even be that bad, it might purely be constructive criticism? Iif you're sensitive to something it feels horrible to have it mentioned but maybe it's actually helpful information put in a bad way?
Once you've figured out if you agree with their point or now you can ask yourself the next, and VERY important question...Do you care? If someones saying that they think a top doesn't suit you, maybe they do have a point but actually if you feel great it in then it just doesn't matter. If someone says they don't think your recent work is as good as your previous collections and you agree, maybe you can learn something from looking at that, or at least use it as fuel to make the next one more fabulous.
Listen to the many, not the one
Also remember that just because one person thinks that, doesn't make it true. Trust in your friends and followers. If you're unsure, ask someone you believe would tell you honestly. This weekend when I shared the comment it was about how I supposedly 'make up drama'. I know I'm a bit dramatic on stories but that because a) it's who I am and b) I personally find that much more entertaining than monotonous chat about ones day... or worse still, posey video selfies (whats that about?!)...anyway, I don't make it up, it's just my sense of humour. What was very generous and lovely were the many replies from people telling me not to change and saying that they enjoy my 'drama' it was so flattering and heart warming and it gave me faith - I knew I could believe the people who had taken the time to reassure me it was OK to be myself.
But what do YOU think?
We can't close ourselves off to criticism completely because ultimately it does help us to grow and develop and it's probably good for us to not just hear nice things all the time (like one of the life lessons you learn in school), so I think it is good to be open to critique and to listen, but it's really important to know your own mind and how you actually feel. That way, you can decide whether they have a point or not. In this case, I decided I wasn't going to let one person make me feel self conscious and worried, I was going to accept their opinion and crack on anyway. Equally, if you think they're on to something then maybe you can learn from it. Take it on board and make a decision about how YOU feel - then go all in with that.
You Just Don't Know
When it comes to replying, something I always think that's worth remembering is that you just don't know what's going on in someone else's head/home/life. It doesn't excuse rudeness but I do think that when we reply we should always try to be as reasonable as possible. This is also why I don't often 'name and shame'. In general I tend to think of all the nasty replies in my head and then try to type out something more civil. That person could be having a very tough time, they could genuinely think that they're helping by giving you 'advice' (even if it is tactless). They may not have meant it in a nasty way at all... or they could just be an 'orrible person; We just don't know. So it's safest to just be civil. Be the bigger person and give yourself a pat on the back for it....then block them. Whether they're having a hard time or not, say something mean to me and you're getting blocked pal. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Laughter is the best medicine
The old cliche but isn't it true? It seems to be my answer to almost everything because I think if you can laugh about something it makes it so much easier to deal with. You take away whatever it is that felt intimidating and you turn it into something enjoyable. This weekend I decided to be as dramatic as possible just because it's fun, it gave me all new 'material' and inspiration for an image to be a drama queen and I found it so funny. Another example was the time a magazine shared one of my pictures to illustrate an article about sex toys - I was initially mortified as it's not very 'on brand' darling... but as soon as I posted about it and made a joke it became hysterical. A lot of the time it's who you share the joke with - when you put it online for all to see you do feel a little nervous 'will people think i'm sharing this for the wrong reason?' 'will anyone be offended' but it loops back to what I said at the very beginning about people being magical - involving people in that way to enjoy their wit and sense of human is just brilliant fun, thats when people surprise you in a wonderful way.
Advice from Cher
My final parting advice on 'how to deal with criticism' is actually one I learnt at the weekend watching Graham Norton, I'm sure many of you saw it. Cher was on and she said that her mother gave her the advice "if it doesn't matter in 5 years, it doesn't matter" and I thought it was a beautiful way to qualify these things. In 5 years, it absolutely will not matter that a stranger thought my eyebrows were bad or that someone else thought I was a bit dramatic so let's not let it matter now. Let's laugh about it (100% - cuz it really is funny) and let's not worry too much.
Thanks for reading
Drama Queen, Over & out x