BY SOFO ARCHON
This is the transcript of a spontaneous talk.
How to best deal with criticism?
I have found that one of the most important things that you can do is to differentiate criticism into constructive criticism and destructive criticism.
Now, constructive criticism is criticism offered by people who genuinely care about your work or whatever you are doing. There are people who want to see you improve. They are there to elevate you, and to actually have a discussion.
With this sort of criticism is very good to engage. It is very important to pay attention to it. The problem is that often we think that we know everything. We think that we are the best. We have such an inflated ego that we don’t pay attention to the criticism that is directed toward us, and hence we don’t improve, or we don’t improve as quickly as we could if we did pay attention to that criticism.
So you need to let go of the idea that you’re right or that you know everything, and pay attention to that criticism, and ask yourself:
“What can I learn from it?”
I do that quite often. I publish something, let’s say an article or a video, and I receive a lot of criticism. And some of it is so good! I’m like, “Yes! That person pointed out something that I could not see.” And then I could correct my article, or I could write a better article next time. It helped opened my eyes to some facts or truth that was invisible to me before that.
But then I have noticed that some of the criticism that I receive is very destructive. It’s from people who don’t really want to help me, who don’t want to contribute to our community, who instead want to put me down. They call me names. The fight against things that I never said.
If you receive this kind of criticism as well, the best thing you can do is to not pay attention to it. But first you have to identify it, and this is something that I learned early on in my writing journey.
When I started writing back in 2012, I wrote an article on the negative effects of religion and I was focused on the Judeo-Christian tradition. And this article, for some reason, reached a lot of people. And I got so many emails, perhaps hundreds, and about half of them contained what I call destructive criticism.
They were telling me that I will burn in hell. They were telling me that I’m totally wrong. And I would ask them: “What is wrong with what I said? What is your counterargument? Helped me to understand because I don’t see anything bad with it. I still totally agree with what I wrote.”
And they would not offer any argument. They would keep on engaging in a fight. They would call me more names. They would try to put me even more down, no matter my positive intentions to engage in such a discussion.
I found that it was futile, and in the end I was just wasting my time and energy that I could dedicate to reading more, to writing more, to things that are actually beneficial to my writing, that are beneficial to my understanding.
So, don’t pay attention to that kind of criticism. It’s a trap, and it could negatively affect you in a lot of ways if you take them seriously, because most of those people are trolling, or they have issues with themselves and their criticism has nothing to do with you.
And you are going to receive such criticism. If what you do becomes popular, if it is exposed to many eyes, it is inevitable — some people are going to troll, hate, call you names, be nasty.
This is the reality that we are living in. So, do what you’re doing, know that you’re possibly going to be criticized for what you do, let go of the idea that you know everything or that you are the best at what you’re doing, learn from constructive criticism and don’t give a shit about destructive criticism.