Virtuosity 11.11

Where words become worlds…

Reflect on Criticism

“Lie naked on the table, and let them cut. Criticism is surgery, and humility is the anesthetic that allows you to tolerate it. In the end, the process will make you a stronger, more flexible, and truly creative writer. It will replace attitude with genuine confidence, and empty arrogance with artistry.” ~Molly Cochran

Recently, I took a personality test, just for fun, to see what it would say.  Now, I’ve taken this test before, from a different website, and both have described me as an INTJ.  For me, it sort of affirmed what I already knew about myself – that I have a thirst for applicable knowledge, and it can be hard for me to translate the thoughts that are constantly going on in my head.  Knowing more about myself meant that I could also understand more of myself – so that I could fix the things that I needed to fix.

As a grad student, our work is constantly being scrutinized, critiqued, and taken apart. Some of our reviewers are not kind, and a few seem to have a vendetta against any new academic. It helps to remember three rules: (1) don’t take things personally,  (2) their comments will make you better, and (3) take what you can use, and let go of the rest. For many, our first reaction is to get defensive about our work. After all, we are putting our very best effort forward, and to have it torn down leaves gaping holes in our ego. However, we need to learn how to take criticism without getting defensive. If we do not listen to our reviewers, we will not improve our work. So, learn to use critique in ways that build you up.

You may have given your best effort, but our reviewers are telling us how to get even better!


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2 thoughts on “Reflect on Criticism

  1. Criticism is always tricky. I prefer to look at criticism as “feedback.” A different opinion on our document. On the one hand, it is good to get people’s opinions, because sometimes their comments are valid and a change should be made. On the other hand, sometimes they want your document to have “their” point of view, their direction…. so, if you change the word from criticism to feedback then you don’t feel irritated when you do decide to cave in and make some good needed changes… OR keep your document “as is.” This is a good test of our egos, right. STICK WITH IT.

    Also, I think our first impression on reading feedback where there is not one positive comment to be angry. THAT is when we need to read the comment, take a few breaths, go for a walk and read the feedback again. Sometimes when we step away, calm ourselves, and reread the feedback we are more receptive to it.

    We all want POSITIVE feedback and I think people who are reviewing our documents FORGET to sprinkle in the positive with the changes they request. GOOD for you to remember if one day you are reviewing student papers, right. YOU CAN DO THIS!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, your comments are so enlightening! I really like that – changing the word from criticism to FEEDBACK. I remember the advice an older grad student gave me when I was new to the program – he said that in the end, our work is ours, and we must decide if we are to take the feedback or not. And now, I have another perspective to think about, thanks to you… that reviewer’s comments are not so much criticism as much as feedback. That reframes everything from being an attack, to being a response to our work, and one that can make it ultimately better. Thank you. ^.^


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