I’ve not met many folk who like to be criticized.  By “criticized” I mean being put down, or faults found, or judgements made against.  You know the experience.  People look at what you’ve done, or what you’ve said (or conversely not done or not said) and render contrary opinion to the max.  Sometimes if’s just feedback but sometimes it can even be personal attack.  At times it’s difficult to differentiate between the two extremes.

I know it’s not all bad.  I know some of it is intended to be constructive.  I know some of my reactions are simply due to “thin skin” which is at times due to stress and duress and even fatigue–gets much thinner.

But who’s your best critic?  and who’s your worst?   Before I go there, here is something I’ve picked up over the years:

1.  there are some people who never criticize.  They just don’t have a critical bone in their body.  They appreciate everything. These are nice people to have around.  But they aren’t your best critics.  Be careful of only having this kind of folk in your circle.  You get lots of love, but little truth.

2.  there are some people who always criticize.  I mean it–glass half empty kind of people.  They are wired to see deficiencies, programmed to point out short comings.  Just very negative people.  Though they have a point in their opinion, often their bias towards negativity makes it hard to appreciate even the truth they have in their opinion.  If they can get their negativity under control they can actually be a very helpful part of our lives.  I have a friend with the gift of being her majesty’s loyal opposition.  Whenever I have a brain wave of an idea I call him to get the downside.  I don’t see it but he does, and he can be very helpful in pointing out the weaknesses of my idea.  But there are some who aren’t as “loyal” and for various reasons can be quite destructive in their feedback–even unwittingly.  When it comes to these folks, “moderation” is the operative word.  Your soul can only tolerate so much before it becomes fearful and reactive.

3.  there are some mean people out there.  By that I mean people who for their own reasons cannot appreciate anything someone else has done and feel compelled to dismantle anyone else’s offering.   Insecurity?  Competitiveness?  Meanness?   Personal hurt?  I don’t know the source but I have seen the results.  I have seen folks who “if they are not leading the parade, feel compelled to sit on the sidelines and snipe at the tires in the parade”.   It isn’t always subtle.  At times it is confrontational.  You need skill and wisdom to handle these situations.

But who is your best critic?  who is your worst?   I think the answer lies between your shoulder blades.  You are your best critic.  (and you are also your worst).    Here is something to think about.  After a presentation, or an event, or a conversation, or a completion of an assignment ask yourself the questions—

1.  how did you do?

2.  did you do your best given the circumstances you were operating under?

a.  what went well?

b.  what didn’t go so well?  (why?)

3.  if you were doing it again, what would you do differently?

4.  so, what did you learn from all this?

I usually pull out my journal and actually write a couple of lines under each of the above questions to get some perspective.  One final thought–no presentation is really as good as I thought it was …and conversely, no presentation was nearly as bad as I am inclined to think.  But, you be the judge.  You are your own best critic.