When you do something – anything – you’re going to get criticized.
I used to lose a lot of sleep about it, but I’ve figured out there’s an easy way to filter criticism: treat it like incoming email. Use a series of filters and scores to determine whether it meets your threshold, and if not, throw it away.
All criticism starts at 0 points.
Filtering the Critic
Does the critic know me in real life? +5 points
Has the critic given me helpful criticism before? +5 points
Has the critic given me unhelpful criticism before? -5 points
Is the critic doing the same work I’m doing? +2 points
Do I respect the critic’s work? +2 points
(Note: this doesn’t require that they do the same work I do. For example, if I get a criticism from an artist that I respect, I’ll take it seriously even though I can’t draw a stick figure with a ruler.)
Does the critic have his own agenda? -5 points
Filtering the Criticism
Does it attack you personally rather than your work? -5 points
Is it filled with emotion? -2 points
Does it have rampant spelling and grammar errors? -1 point
Does it look like it took more than a minute or two to write? + 2 points
Does it include specific examples of how to do better? +2 points
Does it link to supporting evidence? +2 points
Was there more than a day between the action and the criticism, suggesting they slept on it? +2 points
Does the criticism echo concerns you initially had about your own work? +1 point
Putting the Score Together
15 points or more: thank them, and tell them that you’re going to do their criticism justice by thinking seriously about it and then responding more later. Think on it overnight, and then start a private discussion with the critic. They’ve done you a real service.
8 points or more: thank them, and spend a minute thinking through the criticism. Are there any actions you can take right away to fix the problem? If so, do it, and move on.
0 points or more: thank them, and file it away mentally. You’ve heard it, and there may be something in here you need to act on, but no need to take drastic action. It’s in your mental filing cabinet now and it will influence your behavior going forward.
Negative points: leave it alone. They’re trolling you, trying to get a reaction, and what they said was probably designed to raise your blood pressure. Look at the techniques they used, and learn to recognize them faster. You’ll hone your internal spam criticism filter to the point where these types of critiques won’t bother you at all. You’ll know what the critic is trying to do, and you’ll be above them.