It’s scary to put yourself and your work out there. You’re conflicted with emotion. You want people to see your work. You want to share it with someone who will appreciate it. You hope it will make a difference for someone. But the fear of criticism is always there. It’s enough to keep some creatives from ever taking that first step.
We’ll skip the debate on whether it’s a legitimate fear. The feelings are real. Period. I can say from my own experience and from what I’ve heard from other creatives, the response to their work is, overall, very positive. Generally, people are very encouraging and quick to compliment.
That’s not to say that the critics don’t exist.
The more you share your work, the more exposure you get. Your audience increases and inevitably someone will have something critical to say. It goes with the territory. And by territory, I mean people. Statistically, there’s one in every bunch, right? That’s a real stat. Trust me.
Someone somewhere at sometime will question your motives, your technique, your authenticity. It hurts. And, unless it was a private email, it’s often public. They might have commented on your blog or your Facebook page. Immediately you look like a fraud. Your biggest fear come true. You’ve been exposed.
This is NOT the time to throw in the towel, give up, and take your crayons home. It’s also not the time to get all defensive and start slinging mud. Instead, consider your options.
How To Respond to the Critics
1. You can delete the comment.
You can. I’m not sure I’d recommend it. But it’s definitely an option. If the comment is downright mean, full of vulgarity or obscene language, by all means, make it go away. You don’t need that kind of trash in your life. And it’s cluttering up your space and public image.
2. You can respond.
I’m going to make this very easy for you. This is what you say…
“You might be right. I’ll consider that.”
When you say, “you might be right,” you tear down the defenses and make yourself open to the critic. Which is precisely the opposite of what they’re expecting. By accepting the possible merits of what they’ve said, you effectively take the wind out of their sails.
- If the comment is made in private, aka email, you don’t have to respond right away. However, you don’t necessarily want it hanging around in your inbox either. Send off your canned response. Thank them for taking the time to write. Then delete the email.
- Snail mail doesn’t warrant a response. But you can if you’d like. They won’t expect it so it’ll surprise them and awe them that you actually read their message and responded. But again, don’t keep negative letters.
- If the comment is public, offer this response. It shows the rest of your audience that you’re not afraid of criticism and you’re willing to consider someone else’s opinion. It also portrays confidence in that you’re not obligated to accept what they’ve said as truth.
Here’s what you don’t do.
BLAME THE CRITIC FOR THEIR OPINION.
Blame is a wall we use to protect ourselves. It’s often our first line of defense. It takes the pressure off yourself and puts it on someone else.
Blame starts a war of who’s right and who’s wrong rather than just accepting an opinion for what it is. We’re all entitled to be wrong. Did I just say that? I mean… We’re all entitled to our opinions.
My last tip…
Don’t take criticism too seriously.
If someone is determined to tear down your work or your character, THEY ARE NOT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. Don’t waste too much creative time on the naysayers. You are sharing your creativity with the people who will appreciate it. Those are the people that motivate you. Not someone on a power trip. Keep your focus on the people who love you, encourage you, and appreciate your creativity.
Have you had experience with public criticism to your creative work? How did you deal with it? Leave a comment here.