A girlfriend asked me how I cope with criticism while we were catching up over lunch last week. She had been reading a few of my Daily Juggles and noticed there are occasionally comments left at the bottom of each post that disagree with my point of view.
This was always bound to happen and doesn't surprise me. I have been writing editor's letters, editorials and personal columns or blogs for 25 years. I wouldn't have been able to continue with any of it if I was even remotely fragile, but I can see how it might shock someone who hasn't been exposed to criticism.
Of the 16 comments on my post about why high heels are my special treat, for example,14 were in agreement but two were not. One of the commenters took umbrage with my line of reasoning.
"You don't seem to question why the ideal of long slender legs and the look of heels is more attractive to you in the first place."
One of the commenters on my post about why I shop online challenged me to consider my contribution to job losses in the retail sector. That may be confronting but I don't believe it's as simple as that. So I view it for what it is: a different perceptive.
As far as I'm concerned it's all healthy debate and everyone is entitled to their opinion and to question mine. You can't possibly be a columnist and not expect to be disagreed with. We all have different backgrounds, different current situations and different expectations for the future. I'm ok with that.
It's how you cope with criticism that counts. I am fairly thick-skinned so I can separate what matters to me from what doesn't. If you can't then the following are a few tips to help get you through it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the commenter matter to you? Generally negative comments are made by people you don't know. So do you care what those people think?
- Is the comment true? Occasionally someone will make a comment that hits a nerve. That might be because the comment is hurtful or because it lays bare a truth that you have tried to disguise. If it's true then admit that it is and think about the impact that might have on your viewpoint. If it's not true then shrug it off and move on.
- Have you ever read something that you disagreed with or was angered by? Most of us have. Our critics are no different. Harden up.
There will be people who hold a different view to the one I have expressed here and I am keen to hear from them. Ultimately though I remain committed to presenting my personal experiences and views here because that's the strategy of this column.
How do you cope with criticism of your work?
Marina Go is GM of Hearst-Bauer, publisher of Harper's Bazaar, ELLE and Cosmopolitan. She is also chair of the Wests Tigers, a director of Odyssey House McGrath Foundation and a member of the advisory boards of the Walkley Foundation, The Remarkables Group and Women's Agenda. She has an MBA from The AGSM and is a member of the AICD.