Dealing with negative criticism

Whether you are just starting in the art of woodworking or you have years of experience there is always that one aim you are always striving towards, “perfection” and as you strive towards that goal one thing is for certain depending on which forum you go to you will face a certain amount of critique.  Not always is this accepted amongst woodworkers and for those who do not develop a thick skin for it will not benefit from the constructive criticism offered.

Original insight, guidance, a fresh look at your work – those are all valuable benefits of having your art critiqued.

Negative comment is tough, hard on our ears, our egos get in the way and a defense mechanism kicks in, preventing us from accepting criticism at its face value.

How can you approach a critique of your work with open ears and embrace it with a positive attitude when your ego is in the way.  You have to ask yourself; Do you want to elevate your skills, if so then listen and grow by throwing that ego away.

The number of people who refuse to accept feedback is staggering, they are only hurting themselves. You don’t exist in a vacuum and you absolutely need the input of others. You can’t sharpen your skills and if you keep them hidden away because you fear what others will say. Just put yourself out there and have thick skin.

You need the opinion of other people to see how it can be improved, even a layman has something of value to offer.

Feeling the urge to argue with a negative critique? “The rule of thumb is: if you’re finding yourself getting defensive against feedback, you’re probably wrong.  You’re likely defending your work for the wrong reasons, like your pride. That is not how you become a better woodworker.

“This is just something I threw together quickly, I know it sucks.” or ” I really stuffed up here, here and there.”

A self-depreciating, overly-modest attitude is a way to shield ourselves from criticism. Unfortunately, it does our work a whole lot of injustice.  In fact had you not pointed out those mistakes the chances are nobody would have seen them.

If you’re ready to put your project out there and share it with the world (as you should!), why not put your best foot forward and present it with confidence and a positive attitude. After all, if you don’t stand up for your work, others won’t, either. However don’t misunderstand this for pride and ego.

Sugar coating someones work, giving credit to where it’s not due will not help them develop in their craft.  Constructive criticism as I mentioned in the earlier post and accepting negative critiques learning from them and if they apply, applying them in your next project will help you become better woodworkers.

Ultimately the choices in life are your own, changing a fixed personality is a difficult task if one needs changing at all.

My master has repeatedly told me “it’s always about the journey and not the end.”  There is great wisdom in these words.

 

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2 thoughts on “Dealing with negative criticism

  1. Tying in with your last post…this type of criticism happens very little. Sage advice for when it does though. On thing I would like to point out. There is a difference between arguing and discussing. This is where the absence of tone through digital comunication creates an issue. A back and forth discussion can be a learning experience for both parties. Simply rejecting a criticism gains nothing, nor does taking offense when a your critique is rebuked. Dialog is what needs to take place. Something that comes naturally when two people are face to face, but is quite difficult through digital medium…at least for me. Tone, inflection and body language is an important part of communication. Particularly for myself, hearing damage from working on fighter jets, I need the whole package to truely communicate at a comfortable level. The point being, that a lot of us are still learning how to effectively communicate in this new-fangled digital world and it makes honest, constructive dialog a challenge.

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  2. In the graphics world in he past when I was heavily into it on the forums there was quite a bit of critiques some constructive, some dare not to make any negative comment due to backlash of others in defense of the artists popularity and some just meaningless. The point being it was active, the forums were alive much like masterclasses forum is alive but the knowledge is limited as most of them are novices. I ask myself do elite forums exists? Is there such a place where I can post my work and have ripped through by the best. I am a member of the http://www.woodworkforums.com it’s an Australian forum but members from all over, some in there are truly knowledgeable people who will give it to you straight if they feel the need to much like Derek Cohen who ripped through my earlier blog on handmade vs purists. He gave me very constructive criticism that many would have been offended. If we are to grow as craftsman we need such a forum, I don’t want someone making a critique just for the sake of making it as that will steer me in the wrong direction and I will digress rather than progress.

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