Friday, August 16, 2019

Negative Criticism Helps No One


The title of this post and the senryu in the image aren’t telling lies. But they aren’t sharing the whole truth either. Negative criticism doesn’t have to be useless.


In writing, for instance, negative criticism can be inherently nasty, disapproving, and cowardly—sometimes it’s even true—but it doesn’t have to be a waste of spit or time for everyone. Being able to keep a cool head, while one’s work is being ripped apart by someone who has nothing constructive to say, can be informative (and therapeutic).

The informative portion shows itself in two ways: 1) most negative criticism tells us more about the person spewing it than about whatever they’re criticizing (and  knowledge is power); 2) if the nasty critique includes some truth, well… why not turn a baddie into a goodie and birth some improvement out of the insult?  

“Tell them about the therapeutic part! Tell them about the therapeutic part!” says one of the impish little voices in my skull (I have many). The therapeutic portion is my favorite. I love it because regardless of how things go, I always win. How so? you may be wondering. Easily (after some practice).

First, I remind myself that knocking people’s teeth out is illegal (and hard on the knuckles). Then, I do my best to approach things as objectively as I can:

1) If the negative criticism holds any truth, I thank the person for their input and correct things accordingly (if I like them, I try talking with them about their communication skills).

2) If the criticism is just fallacious nastiness (garnished with self-loathing and spite), I thank the person for their input and then ignore them—contradicting this kind of people is dangerous and useless (also, seeing the look on their faces when they realize just  how powerless their nonsense truly is can be rather entertaining (and therapeutic).

See? Win-win: if I go with one, I help myself and another; if I go with two, I get free if-slightly-impish therapy.

What about you, my Wicked Luvs, how do you deal with negative criticism?


written for Poets United Moonlight Musings: the Interactive Edition, #1 – write a short article (in 369 words or fewer), which explores negative criticism




47 comments:

  1. The only time I received negative criticism, it changed my life. My sister showed her true colours and turned it around to make me think it was all my fault. I tried to reach out to her and she cut me off. We haven't had any form of contact for six years. I've written poems about it, the only way I know how to ease the pain, which is like self-harm, in that the pain I inflict on myself eases the pain she caused me.

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    1. It's a terrible thing, isn't it? When the ones we expect unconditional support from are the ones who kick us in the gut.

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  2. I handle it the same way u do. I agree that majority of criticism is just the viewer spewing shit. Also they’re trying to get a rise out of you. U can tell when the criticism has nothing to do with the subject. When they start using the word ‘you ‘ want hen I know to hit delete and block

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    1. It's always good to see where its coming from, to judge if it really matters.

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  3. An interesting topic, Magaly. I love your gorgeous blue banner, by the way. I like the idea that a lack of response leaves the one using words negatively non-plussed. "When they go low, we go high"? I like that you thank them for their input and do not engage further. No point.

    When it comes to poetry, i was taught that constructive criticism must always be given positively. I tend to always look for what i can say something positive about in a poem. If someone puts their work (their heart) out there, i respect and honour that, and want them to feel safe doing so.

    Interesting topic. I will keep coming back to follow the conversation.

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    1. Constructive and honest, delivered with compassion, has always been best on my book.

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  4. I was taught that constructive criticism must always be given positively. I always try to find something positive to say about a poem, as the person is putting their work (their heart) out there, and i respect and honour that. It distresses me to read attacks on others, which reflects poorly on the one using words negatively. I like that you thank them for their input and do not engage further. A very interesting topic, Magaly. I tend to think kindness all around makes everything better. It saddens me to think how unhappy toxic people must be.

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    1. Ho, it seems my Poets United comment wound up here somehow. My fingers must be confused. Will go to P.U. forthwith.

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    2. Blogger works in mysterious ways *hehehe*.

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  5. The nastiest comment I have ever received is "This is the worst thing I have ever read!" That's it. No explanation as to why. I took a pause. Stood back to reread my own work. Smiled, because I liked it. And I replied simply, "Thank you for your feedback, not every writer is going to appeal to every reader." After reviewing this persons comments on others I firmly believe they were a troll looking to start some drama. My response wasn't an argument, simply an acknowledgement of their opinion. (I then blocked said person cause who needs that. Lol!) But on the plus side it was a really good lesson for me because not everyone is going to like my writing. I grew some thicker skin which I think you need when you post publicly. I love getting feedback... including the critical kind... but only if it's productive and helps me grow as a writer.

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    1. Some days (all right, most days), I wonder how some people's brains can justify the stuff that comes out of their mouths.

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  6. And there's the key point, right there..."Being able to keep a cool head, while one’s work is being ripped apart by someone who has nothing constructive to say, can be informative (and therapeutic)." It's not easy to stay calm. But after considering the source and value, I'm always in a better position to engage or simply dismiss.

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    1. It's not easy at all, but... it does keep us strangling someone. Or having a heart attack. Which is good. :-D

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  7. *evil giggles* Step 2 pleases me greatly.

    Yes, of course not adding to the negativity is the mature and rational thing to do, and I do strive for that. But those moments when my inner imp also gets to travel the high road...priceless.

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  8. I find that negative criticism hurts a lot more if it comes from someone whose opinion I respect. If it comes from some stranger, then fuck 'em, who cares?

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  9. In the past nasty comments wrecked my life, I would cry and try and fix/change whatever the comment was about; However in the last several years I have learned to walk away from negativity, negative comments, and the people who make them. I try and teach my daughters the same thing about negative people and comments, it's not worth letting it or them get under your skin.

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  10. I like your attitude towards criticism. We take what we can use and throw away the rest. I guess I must confess, I play it safe and post primarily to PU. People are so nice here. Any criticism is honest and kindly stated. But, I think most of us refrain from giving unsolicited feedback and try to find something positive to comment.

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    1. Unsolicited feedback on blogs rarely leads to good things.

      You know, your comment makes me wonder if some of us would like to engage in some public "solicited feedback" every now and then.

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  11. Oh, I love this, love a win win. I get angry for a minute, have my screamies in my head, and consider if the person or criticism has any weight. I can change, but I won't morph into someone's caricature of what I should be. Of course there are cackles and spells if necessary. Just kidding (?) (!) lol

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  12. I have never had to deal with negative feedback regarding my writing or art. I'm guessing that I would be very butt hurt, but would try my best to ignore it and shake it off. I grew up being bullied... I tried to ignore it back then, but it still hurt. As an adult, part of me is still easily hurt but part of me is "F-you" Lol

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    1. Ignoring the bad things people say about us is never easy.

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  13. I do love your inner impish voices. Yes, indeed, I do!

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  14. As always, you are the mature one, O Person 30 years Younger--I don't deal at ALL well with any evil, hateful kind of criticism about my work. I just shut down or explode. Constructive and positive remarks, telling me about typos, or a mildly expressed desire for me not to be so dark, well. I can smile at that, and as you say, benefit from the experience. But mostly I just block people, because as you point out, knocking their teeth out has so unjustly been made illegal. We all know they will never change, and I don't want to--pretty happy with myself, actually. And with this excellent little life hack you wrote.

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  15. Well...umm...I don't know if I receive a nasty comment how I would feel. But I agree with you cent percent that it's best to ignore such useless trash. What I don't like is snobbery. "What can he/she write? what does he/she know?" type of attitude is seen when someone doesn't have the courtesy to visit you and comment. Of course I am also open to constructive criticism. A space to learn. Love how you've analysed everything with much humor (your trait). A reading pleasure.

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    1. I've always thought that snobbery always says more about the person who spews is than about the one who is aimed at.

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  16. Magaly, you are my hero. I love your thoughts here, and will hold them dear. And, I might add, use as I see fit. Smiling!

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  17. You have patience and grace to face your detractors and I applaud you for this. I like how you broke it down. When people criticise my work negatively, I just ignore them.
    By the way, if you’re ever in need of dental extractions - send them my way!

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    1. If I ever need to threaten someone, I will tell them that I have an imaginative dentist on retainer, lol!

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  18. Love your win-wn. I shall add ‘Thank you for your input’ to my toolbox. (I nearly said weaponry - tsk!)

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  19. Magaly, you have some pretty excellent (!!) advice here. I'll dwell on one that you addressed and of which I did not. An insulting comment, "This isn't a poem and you are a gearhead and not a poet." Or the likes. Several others left comments with nothing negative. I erased her comment and she mine. She had used a word she commonly, countless times. used, which I mentioned. It was a common word, I have used it 16 times starting with 2007. You banned yours but I did not mine. Very seldom do I comment on hers, at first she deleted mine. She has left a couple of neutral comments on mine.
    I learned. First, that not everyone likes everything I write. Nor does everyone like me. I really aren't expecting that but it does bring home that message.
    I too like your close. Win-win, make it into help for you. I am glad that for either one you thank the writer. I mostly delete the comment and ignore from then on.
    ..

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    1. I'm right with you when it comes to deleting comments that don't add anything good to the conversation. Why suffer the uselessness of trolls, right?

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  20. I agree with everything you said! I use to get hurt from negative criticism, especially from those close to me, but not anymore, because I know it's more about them, than me. Now I know, when to leave the "room"! LOL! Big Hugs!

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    1. Your reaction is so positive take that emerges from something so negative... I love it!

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  21. Love your take on this... I sort crumble tbh... but realise you can't please (nor would anyone want to) EVERYONE... and if those people so shit hot, what are they doing wasting their time telling other people what & how they should be doing, they should be working on their own stories ;) xxx

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    1. Negative criticism always gets under one's skin. That can't be help. We are humans and humans feel--artists, perhaps, even deeper.

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I love your insightful remarks. So, go ahead, let them fly…