Critics are among the best sources of free advice you will ever come across.
Hug your critics. Embrace your critics. Ignore your critics. You’ll hear all kinds of advice about how to handle your critics. The only advice you should listen to is, pay attention to your critics, even if for only a short period of time. The good ones, and sometimes even the idiots, may just be presenting you with a truck load of free advice.
Here are the top 7 reasons why I pay attention to my critics. (Inspired by my best and worst critics)
Reason 1 – Up My Game
Whether I love them or hate them, critics force me to up my game, depending on the critic and what they criticize. I have had all kinds of criticism over the past 6 years including things like:
- Your website has spelling errors
- Your website sucks
- Your social media posts don’t have a hook
- Your profile picture makes you look like a jack ass
- Your blog is too long
- Your blog is incomprehensible
- Your grammar is hellacious
- Your video presence is terrible
- You have no clue about marketing
- You have no clue about sales
- Maybe you should pack it in and get a job
- Your Facebook posts make you sound like an old man (Little Sister)
- Stop using ellipses in your writing…
- You are too argumentative
- You are too pushy
- You don’t listen
- You talk too much in sales calls
I could go on and on and on. All of this criticism has resulted in my determination to up my game.
I studied, read, questioned, examined myself, reflected on my mission. All of the work made me better at what I do. If I ignored the critics I would still suck.
While some people, the critics who I could take or leave, think I still suck, I am miles ahead of where I was 6 years ago.
Reason 2 – Ideas for Content
This works at least two ways, maybe more.
- For the folks who criticize my work, but from a position of inferior intelligence or experience, meaning, they have no clue, I take their silly notions and create a piece of content refuting each one.
- For those who are intelligent, and have more experience then I do, I take what they know, research it, and spin it for my own audience in my own terms.
In either case, the good or the bad critics function as a idea mill for content that feeds my own marketing plan.
I wrote a post on whether or not social media marketing matters as a result of some sharp criticism from several sources. The criticism was incomplete which forced me to rethink my perspective on social media engagement and write down the things I think my audience should consider as well.
I wrote an article about the importance of staff meetings for a dental practice because I was constantly being told that staff meetings had no real use in running a dental practice. I was determined to demonstrate why I thought the staff meetings were important, and wrote an article connecting staff meetings to the generation of referrals.
The point here is that when I am confronted with a critics view of something I think is important, it inspires me to collect my thoughts and create a useful piece of content to help people think through important issues.
Reason 3 – Education
I dont now, nor will I ever, know it all. When the critics are good, and offer more knowledge or different knowledge than I currently have, I learn. I learn because I am aware of my limitations and gaps in my knowledge and experience. I learn because I am not afraid to admit my short comings.
I remember when I first came onto the scene in social networks. A few people were critical of my seeming lack of purpose or a plan. I fixed that, and made my social media experience light years ahead of where I was.
I also remember learning from someone who was my friend, then wasn’t my friend and now is one of my dear friends about the power of controlling my response to things. I dont feel like I can ever learn that lesson enough.
There have been a few times in the most recent past where I had to learn, the hard way, how to frame the content I create from the perspective of my target audience. This is a tough lesson to learn but was a lesson taught to me by someone I hold very dear to me, as a mentor and a friend, who never stopped smacking me upside the head with not always constructive criticism.
Reason 4 – My Brand
I am smart enough to know that there is my view of me, the critics view of me and that actual me. When someone criticizes me or my work, particularly as it pertains to how I am coming across, I can look at it and do some self exploration to make sure that I am making the right presentation. Not that I am interested in manufacturing my persona, but I am interested in coming across accurately.
I also don’t mind the mirror effect of someone who is telling me who I am as if their view is objective. The reason I don’t mind it is that their view is objective to them, and I need to consider it as I go forward building the personal side of my brand.
I remember there was a time I was having an argument with someone online. In private, a friend of mine sent me a message and told me how I was coming across. No, I actually didn’t want to hear it. Yes, I listened and worked hard to try to tone it down. In then end, the advice was a little too late for that situation, but it is certainly food for thought for the next time something similar comes up.
The critics give me some insight into the associations people make when they think of me. Sure, I love to hear about all the good associations, but to ignore the bad is short sighted and limiting.
Reason 5 – Proof Reading
When someone criticizes my online content, it gives me an opportunity to examine if my writing style is clear. I can look at whether or not I am framing my arguments properly and completely.
I don’t always express myself in a way that presents what I am really thinking. When someone criticizes me, it is an opportunity to test how I am coming across. In this regard I can gleam a lot by just observing the criticism, or in some cases, ask the critic what they thought I meant.
In almost every case the result is that I get a chance to right the ship and say it a better way.
Reason 6 – Test My Knowledge
If I make an assertion, and a critic picks up on it, and blasts me, I get a free window view into one of two things. Either I am way off base, or that critic should be ignored.
My knowledge is fairly deep across quite a few pillars in terms of pure business acumen. That doesn’t mean my knowledge is 100% accurate.
I tend to write using an assertive style. I will make an assertion and then work to back it up supporting evidence. In many cases, my assertion is limited by what I know or don’t know. When a critic points that out, it forces me to investigate a deeper level of expertise.
Reason 7 – What I don’t Want to Be
Critics can be jerks. I am a critic by nature in that I use criticism to explore angles of viewpoints. When I see a jerk, I think to myself, “I don’t want to be like that jerk” so I alter my style a bit to reflect a more balance approach to criticism.
I also don’t want to present my knowledge in such a way that makes me incomprehensible or stupid. Some critics present a great opportunity to see just want that looks like, and what exactly to avoid.
Critics can be a source of an enormous volume of free advice. At times, the advice you take away from your worst critics could have cost you thousands if you paid for the same advice from a coach or consultant.
You don’t have to love or hate your critics. You just should never ignore them. To do so is to stifle your own growth and risk never becoming the success you could be, and should be.
As a side note, don’t listen to anyone tell you that criticism only has value if it is constructive. Yes, I prefer to listen to criticism when its delivered by someone who has my best interest in mind. That doesn’t mean the people who want me to suffer cant teach me something too. 😉
One other thing before I go. After a while, some critics will start to demonstrate that their criticism is more a function of their own pathology, than of your incompetence. These people are to be avoided at all costs, because they offer you nothing but an incredible time suck.
With that, carry on!!!