Being a creative person in the public eye means that bad reviews go with the territory. In narrating 11 audiobooks in 2012, I observed that:
- People seem more likely to leave a rating than write a review.
- Negative reviews seem to outnumber positive ones.
In looking at the negative reviews, some people actually gave informative feedback about why they didn’t like the book. Others, though, left mean and meaningless comments. I suspect that many people feel better about themselves when they can be critical of others.
Recently, I used my journal entries from 1993 to give you 4 quick lessons about finding happiness when you hate your job. Today, I want to use my journal entries to talk about how to deal with criticism.
In 1993, I wrote:
I can’t help but be upset and depressed, among other negative emotions. I endured another round of criticism.
[A manager] has insinuated that I am incompetent. These constant attacks are demoralizing and de-motivating. I don’t feel like doing anything for anyone.
When [my boss] brought up the subject, I felt pains in my chest, underarm and ribs. I’m sure the anxiety and stress I continuously feel causes these pains.
Never in my life in any endeavor have I been the subject of so much criticism. Throughout my career, others have always perceived me as being extremely intelligent and capable. These recent attacks hurt me all the more deeply since they are unwarranted. I know more about computers and networks than [management] will ever know.
On 8 July 2012, I wrote:
I was looking in that first journal I started in 1993. Every day, I was writing about all of the problems I was having at work. Some of the days I vividly remember just by looking at that journal.
My [younger] self was very sensitive, especially to criticism. I can learn a lot from her.
The more she thought and wrote about criticism, the more it seemed to come her way. When she started standing up for herself and letting people know they couldn’t dump on her, she actually became more respected. Days at work became easier…
Looking back to 1993, none of the stuff that I wrote about made a long-term difference in my life. I solved problems. I gained self-esteem. I knew I did good work, and no one could take that away from me.
No matter what people said, the truth was that I DID GOOD WORK.
And that’s the truth today. I do good work in audiobooks. Not everyone is going to like my work.
They may say mean-spirited things about my work…Obviously, the naysayers haven’t caused people to stop buying the books…My 4- and 5-star ratings for performance far exceed the 1- and 2-star ratings.
I would tell my 1993 self to focus on the outcome I wanted and keep doing good work. That sounds like excellent advice for my 2012 self!
What changed in the 19 years between these journal entries?
Some people would say that things that troubled you when you were younger don’t matter as you grow older. Yes, that’s partially true, but I also have spent considerable time in consciously re-programming my mind. I continue each day to CHOOSE BETTER THOUGHTS and speak words in the direction I want my life to go.
The following quotes are especially meaningful to me. They help me remember to focus on the outcome I want to achieve instead of dwelling on any perceived slights or criticism in the present moment. I hope they may help you.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
In 1994, I changed my mindset to be “I’m only doing this job to get money and vacation time to do what I want to do.” That attitude shift was my first attempt to focus on the outcome I wanted. By focusing on the outcome, I was less swayed by events – and negative comments about my work – in the moment.
Don’t take your critics’ words to heart. What do they know, anyway? Forget about pleasing everybody, and play to people who like what you do. (paraphrased)
Barry Manilow could be the patron saint of the unfairly criticized. I remember reading an article in which he said that he would give a great show that the audience loved. He would read the reviews expecting accolades and would instead find brutal words from critics. He said the bad reviews would hurt his feelings and those of his fans.
He began changing his performances to please the critics.
Fortunately, he realized he wasn’t being true to himself and decided to compose, sing, arrange, conduct, and perform songs the ways that suited him.I find it interesting to note that in the 20 years that I’ve been following Barry in his 40+-year career, he’s gone from being a punch line to a joke to being referred to as a music legend.
He didn’t change. His critics did.
If somebody doesn’t like you, don’t take it personally. They are not part of your destiny. Shake off every negative comment spoken over you and reprogram your thinking. Your attitude should be “No big deal. They are powerless to stop the blessing on my life.”
You have to have a boldness. You can’t be insecure and worry about what everybody thinks. If you change with every criticism and play up to people to try to win their favor, then you’ll go through life being manipulated, letting people squeeze you into their box….Even if you changed and did exactly what they asked, they would still find fault.
While I am not a fan of organized religion, I like Joel Osteen’s messages each week. He always talks about ways to improve your own life, starting with the thoughts that you are thinking.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire a knowledge of the superficial nature of their thoughts, the narrowness of their views and of the number of their errors. Whoever attaches a lot of value to the opinions of others pays them too much honor.
I wish I could say that I have read this philosopher’s texts. I actually heard this quote recently when listening to the audiobook of THE CHAPERONE written by Laura Moriarty and beautifully narrated by Elizabeth McGovern.
One mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself.
I have learned to shrug off criticism in audiobook reviews by remembering the following points:
- Each rating or review is just one person’s opinion.
- I do the best that I can in each recording session.
- With each recording session, my best level improves.
- I am happy with the audiobooks that I create.
- The publishers and authors are delighted with the audiobooks I create.
Do you struggle with taking criticism to heart? How do you deal with it?