Constructive Criticism

“The paper is just [the] manuscript. It’s not the story. The story in your head is beautiful. . . You can take a lot of comfort in knowing that all they’re doing is reacting to the manuscript. It’s not [you]. It’s not even [your] story.” –Peter Orullian


Nobody likes to get told that they stink. Picture13(Try it sometime.  If you get throat-punched, then maybe you get my point.)

And yet, we like improving.  We like forward progress. We like being better today than we were yesterday.

And sometimes the thing we need to improve is a thing we don’t want to hear.

I have a friend at pick-up soccer who is always dispensing research-backed wisdom about this: “Don’t tell people what they did bad! It’s scientifically proven to trigger a defense mechanism.”

It’s funny, because he seems oblivious to the immediate walls that go up between him and the people he would educate about the dangers of negative feedback. Nobody seems to care that it’s “research-backed.”

And I’ve thought a lot about this. How do I invite positive change into my life as a writer, father, and friend?

If you’re bored, or tired of getting throat-punched for your “feedback,” check out this panel on constructive feedback for writers. Some of it might be useful.



2 thoughts on “Constructive Criticism

  1. Maybe the difference is whether we feel it’s from external or internal decisions. Or maybe it’s our sensitivity to the external info or source.
    Certainly, if we are given something that feels do-able instead of nebulous we’re more likely to accept it. Providing specifics in a positive frame is a real skill that some have, but can take effort, as well.
    It’s worth exploring or own thoughts when we find we’re reacting instead of responding. Even if the feedback isn’t something we choose to use, we can still learn something about ourselves from it.

    That was a pretty good panel! Looks like the group was able to work with each other well and build on varying opinions.
    How did it feel to you?

    1. I really enjoyed this panel. It felt inclusive and relevant. And it was fun to participate in.

      Sometimes, like you say, stepping back and asking ourselves why we feel a certain way can have interesting results.

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