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You Don’t Have To Accept Bad Criticism

Posted by on Aug 3, 2011

Some time ago I’d written a post about something local on this blog. I shared it with some local people just to spread the word. None of them commented on it, which is the norm it seems. However, one wrote me back on Twitter and his comment was “Man, that’s an ugly webpage.”

What the heck was that? Where did that come from? This is a guy who 1) doesn’t have a webpage; 2) has a Blogger blog in green and brown that he’s never tried to sculpt; 3) basically writes one post a year on that blog, usually when he’s mad; 4) couldn’t say a thing when I asked him why he said it and then; 5) never responded once again when I said it’s a blog, not a webpage, but it suits my purpose.

All of us are going to be criticized in some fashion at some point in our lives; some of us hear it daily. There’s nothing wrong with people who are giving you advice that might help you as long as you’re ready to hear it; I’m one of those people who doesn’t want it unless I’m asked unless it’s something really egregious like a misspelled word or a phrase someone doesn’t understand. And, for a blog, there’s nothing wrong with giving our opinions in public, especially once an article it out there, as long as you don’t get personal and keep things confined to the article in question.

However, there’s a lot of bad criticism out there, things that people say with no intention except to cut other down. They’re not trying to help; they’re not trying to be constructive. They’re only trying to build themselves up by whatever means necessary, and if they can take it out on you at a moment’s notice, so be it.

I remember years ago when I shared a portion of my book early on with someone I was playing email chess again. His response back to me was “have you ever read a book”? That was it; nothing else. It hurt; I won’t lie. I stopped writing… for about an hour. Then I was back into my writing mode because my mind realized his criticism meant nothing. One, nothing constructive; two, he’d never written anything himself. And three, of course I’d read books; how did that help push anything positive through?

If you put yourself out there and ask others for opinions on something, you obviously open yourself to someone busting on you for something. Sometimes what you get back makes sense; sometimes what you get back in invective. You don’t have to take that; no one has to take bad criticism.

For the record, bad criticism means there’s no attempt to give a person an opportunity to improve in any way. Bad criticism is “I hate your webpage”. Good criticism is “Having light green against a pink background is hard to read and might be hard for other people to see easily”. Bad criticism is “I hate what you wrote here; your opinion stinks”. Good criticism is “I disagree with your point because….”

Back in September I had kind of a row with someone on this blog when I wrote a post questioning modesty of today’s kids and blaming it on parents. Parents tend to get defensive because they say it’s hard controlling their kids; I don’t tend to let them off the hook. Yet, parents also take things like this personal even when it’s not against them specifically. Bad criticism is “you don’t know what it’s like being a parent”; phooey. Good criticism… well, in this case I’m not sure what good criticism is. It’s a post where people either agree or disagree, but I’m not sure it’s a post where anyone can support the argument for what some might deem salacious outfits by young girls and not being able to control what they wear. That’s what parenting is supposed to be, folks.

The general point is that no one should allow the potential of bad criticism stop them from doing or saying what they feel is necessary, as long as they’re prepared to accept the consequences of those actions or feelings. And if there are consequences and you feel you’re in the right, then go ahead and keep doing it; unless someone else is paying you, you really don’t have to acquiesce to bad criticism. Most people who criticize you have nothing to offer other than the criticism.

Anyone want to criticize that? lol

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I am definitely not going to criticize “that” Mitch, but you really got a good point. I had my share of “bad criticism” and I really reacted poorly at first but then realized that most of time, people who do this is because they don’t have anything else “productive” to do. We are all prone to these type of behavior and like you said, in certain occasions, I don’t see why we have to “eat it up”. Most of the time though, I just ignore it and weigh over “others” who have something good to say about me 🙂

August 3rd, 2011 | 11:59 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

DiTesco, that’s the issue isn’t it? Constructive criticism is one thing; bad criticism sometimes just shuts you down to the extent that you have to now work to pull yourself out of it. That’s never fun.

August 4th, 2011 | 8:59 PM

Haters gonna hate no doubt about that. The trick is not to let them get to you. Constructive criticism is great from my point of view, it can help you realize and improve a lot of stuff. It helped me plenty of times when people made true observations regarding my work or my websites.

August 3rd, 2011 | 1:16 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Good stuff, Cristian. And you’re right, haters are gonna hate, but we don’t have to listen to them, especially on our terms.

August 4th, 2011 | 8:59 PM

Hi Mitch,
Feedback is one thing but criticism is a whole different ballgame. Look at all of the negative comments left on AOL or other big websites.

I think that the web has given people “balls” that they normally wouldn’t have. I quit posting comments on a popular Personal Development forum because of all of the negativity.

August 4th, 2011 | 12:39 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I hear you Justin. I wrote a post some time back about my distaste for the types of comments we see on news sites. That’s all bad criticism; not a helpful thing in any of them. And they all get to be totally anonymous; isn’t that convenient?

August 4th, 2011 | 9:04 PM

People say what they want, without even thinking if it is appropriate to say. They will criticize you in any way they can. But no matter what they say about you, never take it negatively. Nothing good will happen if you will take it negatively. Instead, use it to learn something new, use it to improve yourself, use it to make a positive change in what you do.

August 4th, 2011 | 12:57 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Jeminah, sometimes there’s just nothing positive to take away from criticism. That’s when one has to be mentally strong enough to figure out how they want to deal with it.

August 4th, 2011 | 9:17 PM

Hi Mitch.
I don’t always accept those criticism. When people say something about me, usually I always think again, whether what they said is true or not. If it’s true then it’s fine. But if it’s not, I won’t accept it for sure.

August 4th, 2011 | 2:25 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Andrew, that’s the best one can do sometimes.

August 4th, 2011 | 9:18 PM

Communication is a skill which not many have, so some may simply not know how to say something in a different way. Also, i think that education plays an important part, you just don’t say to someone “you’re ugly” – that’s just it.

August 4th, 2011 | 4:39 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Mia, everyone has at least some “sense” to themselves. If they didn’t, they’d probably either already be in jail or beaten up. You might have missed a post I had in June that had a video with it, when I said that people always seem to know how to say the right thing when their job depends on it or their family members are around. Therefore, I don’t buy the “people may not have proper communication” skills argument all that often.

August 4th, 2011 | 9:30 PM

With time I learnt to kinda shrug off the bad part of a critic and take the good part as a lesson of some sort. If the criticism is purely meant to provoke or piss off, that doesn’t really affect me anymore, not like I received so much bad critics that I am used to it, rather, don’t know, natural disposition I guess.
I believe not all negative criticism comes from an act of evil, sometimes people can formulate that at most, something like “wow it’s ugly” without really having an idea of why it’s ugly. The lack of a helpful side isn’t always meant to hurt.

August 4th, 2011 | 4:59 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Gabriele, maybe it’s not always meant to hurt, but then those people should just keep their mouths shut. You know, it’s kind of like when I had my writing rant many months ago, along with my video on the subject. Some guy saying that writing is easy to people if that’s all they do when they have no writing skills whatsoever is them trying to make themselves seem like what they do is more important, when the truth may be they don’t have the skills to do what you do. That’s someone trying to build themselves up at my expense; wasn’t having it. Even if they didn’t know that’s what they do, that’s exactly what they’re doing. And in that instance there’s nothing one can learn from it except how much they’re willing to take from someone else.

August 4th, 2011 | 9:33 PM

I don’t know how to extend this, Mitch. You said it exactly the way it is. Nothing against criticism when there are some facts, but sometimes people just want to throw all the hatred, because most of the times they can not achieve the same.

August 4th, 2011 | 8:02 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s true Carl, but we don’t have to deal with it, right?

August 4th, 2011 | 9:40 PM

Absolutely Mitch, I am Christian, but if somebody hit me, I hit 3 times, especially when I know that I am right.

August 5th, 2011 | 5:11 AM

I have no problems with criticism but will draw a line when improper language is used to convey criticism where that is not necessary.

August 4th, 2011 | 10:27 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I’m with you there, Rummuser. You notice no bad language anywhere on this blog, even in comments; just not having it.

August 4th, 2011 | 9:41 PM

Some persons are just malicious on purpose with their criticism…nothing constructive about them, it just coming from pure ego and anger…sometimes even because of envy reasons. I find it hard to deal with such criticism. And you said it all here, Mitch, I completely agree. With malicious criticism there is no room given to a person to improve in any way.

August 4th, 2011 | 8:18 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Kristina. It’s too bad some people have to do stuff like that to make themselves feel better, but I guess that’s the way of the world.

August 4th, 2011 | 10:00 PM
Clark Minn:

For me, I do accept the criticism so that I can use it to make me a better person and we can prove that there are no perfect people…

August 4th, 2011 | 8:29 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Clark, it depends on what the criticism is. If the criticism isn’t constructive, then there’s nothing to get better from.

August 4th, 2011 | 10:05 PM

Mitch, I reckon bad criticism like negativity is a waste of time as they both don’t amount to anything.

I’ve had my fair share of people criticising either me or my work and I admit in the beginning when I didn’t know any better it used t get my goat, but now that I am older and wiser I’ve come to realise that those who criticise are lacking something themselves.

August 5th, 2011 | 8:33 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Good stuff Sire. It takes a lot of time and thought to get past some of this, which is why I decided to write the post. It’s not always easy to stand apart from bad criticism and see it for what it is.

August 5th, 2011 | 11:46 AM

Yeah, and it’s also a little harder watching someone else being criticized when you know it is undeserved, especially if it someone you know.

August 5th, 2011 | 10:27 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Exactly; I’m not quite as gracious in those times, as you’ve seen. lol

August 6th, 2011 | 1:11 AM

Yes, I don’t accept criticisms but I used it as a tool to learn and make me as a good person. If you try to accept such things,it will truly break you down. Live positively and go with the flow of life.

August 7th, 2011 | 7:49 PM

I accept bad criticism in a very modest way. I always take into consideration that the best way to get rid of them is ignoring them in the first place.

August 8th, 2011 | 7:05 AM

Hi Mitch, I used to have such thin skin when I first started blogging. My feeling got hurt when people were saying that I wasn’t “a serious” blogger because I wasn’t using my own domain and it took me some time to squash all of that nonsense. LOL!
With all of that behind me I’m more interested in hearing what my critics have to say and hoping that I can get legitimate feedback that can inspire my personal growth.

August 9th, 2011 | 7:27 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

See Ileane, even though I believe that if people really are serious about blogging they should have their own domain, I’d never put it that way, that directly. To me, there’s a way of telling people what they need to hear without making them feel bad; at least until they show they don’t understand what you’re saying to them. As for hearing what critics have to say, I don’t mind as long as it’s on topic. If I write a book and give it away for free to a few people, then ask them for a critique, I don’t want to hear “I’ve read better”, or “I did or didn’t like it”. I want to know “why”, so I can determine if there’s anything I need to change. If I just hear bad or good stuff but nothing to help, well, I didn’t need the bad (negative), the good was nice but it didn’t help, which means it was bad in its own way. Legitimate feedback, which you said, can be helpful.

August 9th, 2011 | 8:08 PM

Criticisms will always be inevitable and it will hurt us most of the time. These people who criticize badly are ignorant, selfish and insensitive to the feelings of others. Our only defense from these people are our ability to ignore and let go. After all, those who are mostly criticized are those who have achieved something great that others are not able to accept. 🙂

August 9th, 2011 | 8:29 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Great stuff Walter. I’ve learned how to let some things go while beating a dead horse on others. It’s a tough lesson to learn permanently.

August 9th, 2011 | 11:19 PM

Hello Mitch, I saw a link to your post here on Sire’s blog. And actually I like his comment out of all of the comments here best: “now that I am older and wiser I’ve come to realise that those who criticise are lacking something themselves.”

This is what I was going to say if no-one else said it. Nice people seldom criticise like this and if they’re having a bad day and do succumb to this behaviour they’re quick to apologise.

September 3rd, 2011 | 2:03 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Roz. Sire’s right of course but we still don’t just have to take it from these so-called “helpers” based on how they might deliver the information to us.

September 3rd, 2011 | 4:59 PM

Mitch, to be honest I pay scant attention to anything this type of person says, so I’m agreeing with what you say. No way should you accept these type of ill intended, even cruel remarks.

September 3rd, 2011 | 8:32 PM
Ana @ Como Hacer Ensayos:

During my time working as a teacher, I’ve learned one thing – even the most reasonable people are not themselves when it comes to their children. I guess that’s normal and that Mother Nature has her fingers in this one (making sure that parents always react when they think their cub 🙂 is in “danger”). So, you really need to be extra tactical and careful in order to make them realize the horrible truth – their child is not an omnipotent angel.

As for the criticism, I’ve noticed that I have more and more trouble being criticized as the years go by. I used to care a lot less. I don’t question the motive of the ones who criticize me, but yet, I get a bit more upset than I should. The “have you ever read a book” comment would probably get right to me. I guess I invest much more of “me” in my work than I used to.

September 29th, 2011 | 1:25 PM

Ana, I’m with you on this one. But it’s not criticism as much as how it’s delivered and from whom it’s being delivered. For instance, I don’t accept criticism at all from someone who’s got no proven track record; advice maybe, but never criticism.

September 29th, 2011 | 10:12 PM