Criticism vs Feedback

Our six year old daughter doesn’t like receiving negative feedback. She always wants to be told how smart, clever, and brilliant she is. She doesn’t like doing things she is not very good at and will often find an excuse not to try. She hates failing. When we play chess together she sulks when she loses. She only wants correct ticks in her homework. She wants to be called a “lady” and when you point out that she is acting otherwise, she is not very pleased.

I guess many of us behave like this. We generally don’t like negative feedback. We have an inherent fear of criticism. However there is a big difference between criticism and feedback. Criticism is often unsolicited, harsh, and an attack on our work or being. It¬†denigrates our self esteem. A critic is not interested in your well being. They are just attacking you to embarrass you or to belittle you or to make themselves feel better. Criticism is often all about the critic and not about you. The critic is often insecure and jealous of your progress. It’s best to avoid the critic at all costs.

Feedback on the other hand comes from a good place. It’s meant to help you improve. The person giving feedback is often an authority on the subject or has great influence on your fortunes. They’re usually more experienced and have your best interests at heart. It’s a mistake to disregard feedback from such people. Actually you would do well to listen and change your behavior. Generally you want to listen to a close friend, a spouse, a parent, child, a customer, your boss, a mentor, business partner, etc. You can ignore some random chaps on social media hurling insults at you but you can’t dismiss people who directly influence your livelihood. You would do well to seek out feedback from people you respect and admire. There is no need to frown or get angry when you receive negative feedback. Remember this person is looking out for you. They want you to improve and do well. They are offering you an invaluable gift. They’re your friend and not the enemy.

Feedback is food for champions. The people who master the art of seeking and receiving feedback generally soar to great heights.

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