Responding well to criticism is something that I struggle with. I tend to take it personally and start beating myself up at the first hint that I’m not measuring up in some way. And then come the tears – agh! You’d think I’d have it more together by now.My husband has learned to couch his helpful comments with careful prefacing and gentle disclaimers.“Now, I don’t want you to take this personally, this has nothing to do with you, but I’m just going crazy here with the house looking like a complete disaster. I’m not saying anything about your lack of care, I know you have been busy, and rightfully so, and I really appreciate all you do, but we’ve got to do something different around here before company comes over.”Of course, all I hear is: “going crazy, complete disaster, your lack of care, do something different.” It’s just ridiculous. After the tears come my defensive statements, beginning with “But I always” and “You never.” Needless to say, I’m still working on rational conflict resolution.So I was completely impressed with my daughter Meghan’s maturity when faced with constructive criticism awhile back. She attends a university well-known for its highly competitive music program. In order to get in to the program, she had to prepare 4 vocal pieces (2 English, 2 Italian) to audition before a panel of judges. Sure, she is a talented musician, but the level of perfection required for the stringent program is not for the faint-hearted. First of all, I would never have the nerve to get up and open my mouth in front of judges. And to see them scribbling on their critique sheets would be unbelievably unnerving. Try hitting a high note in Italian with music professors peering over their glasses at you. gulp.Despite her relatively high scores (low 90’s), it was the critiques that accompanied them that would have reduced me to a quivering puddle of tears. But not Meghan.She took them instride. She defended most of the comments with “Yes, I can see what they mean. I do need to work on that.” She even laughed about THIS Simon Cowell-like critique: “If you worked at it, you could probably become a pretty good singer.” Who WAS this guy? He was obviously an elitist opera quote-unquote “expert.” I was ready to punch his lights out – the NERVE!But Meghan pointed out that the judge had added a footnote, “but, it takes a lot of work and you have the voice to do it.”Where I would have focused on the negative, She chose to focus on the positive. “See, Mom, I DO have the voice to make it!”I’m humbled by this young woman. Her grace under pressure and before such criticism makes me want to step up my own game. She is able to take the comments as a means of helping her reach higher and try harder. As a result, she is finishing her degree with flying colors. By golly, she’s got spunk!I have no idea where she gets that. Must be from her father’s side.
How do you handle criticism? Do you retaliate, get mad or beat yourself up……or do you focus on how it can help you reach higher and become better?
Proverbs 9:9-10Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser
still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. “The fear
of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is