Filtering Destructive Criticism

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Aristotle

When you’re putting your creative work out there, there will always be people who don’t like what you’ve done. Some will give you good feedback that you can use to improve your songwriting, others will just tear you down. It’s much easier to focus on the negative criticism that we get than the positive, but it shouldn’t be that way. Don’t let a lack of confidence based on previous criticism prevent you from sharing your work. Instead, ask these questions to help filter destructive criticism so you can focus on the constructive criticism.

  1. Is it criticizing something about my song, or is it criticizing me?
  2. Is it an opinion, or is it pointing out something I did wrong?
  3. Do I value the person giving the criticism?

Working Through the Questions

If the criticism is pointed at you and not your song, you’re dealing with more of a personal attack than criticism, avoid the instinct to react and just ignore this type of person. It may be a mix of criticism and personal attack so if you can work through which is which go ahead, but the emotions involved in a personal attack may be too much so it may be better to just leave it alone. If it’s pointing out something wrong with your song, move on to question 2.

If it’s pointing out something you did wrong, figure out what you can do to improve. That may involve more practice or changing something about the song.

If it’s an opinion, figure out how much weight to give that opinion. A good follow-up question is: is it just an anonymous comment or is this coming from someone you highly respect? Don’t throw it out just because it’s an anonymous comment, but don’t give it the weight of someone you value highly.

Following up with the Critic

Once you’ve decided to take action based on the criticism, it may be hard to figure out exactly what to do with the it. It may not be specific enough to take concrete action on. The key to remember is that you may need to ask follow-up questions if you want to make improvements. Ask for specifics if needed. “I don’t like this song” is not helpful. If that comes from someone you trust and value, you’ll have to find out what they don’t like about it before taking any action.

It’s easy to let destructive criticism tear you down. Use these filters before you let that happen.

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Aristotle Click To Tweet

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