Reframing criticism

06 Oct 2020    1 min read.

There are two types of people in this world, those who have a hard time receiving criticism, and those who seek it and thrive on it.

Those who seek it tend to separate their self worth from the subject of the criticism. They use criticism as a tool to adjust and improve. To them, the lack of honest feedback is stagnation.

I stumbled upon this Twitter post yesterday. In the video shared, Andi Miller, who worked for and spent a lot of time with Steve Jobs, describes how Steve Jobs used to dish out criticisms. Steve describes a few incidents where Steve is unapologetic and incredibly candid. People who are sensitive to criticisms will cringe. Instead, Andy attributes his most rapid growth period to the time he spent at Apple with Jobs. He thrived.

I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast in replies to the tweet. People either felt threatened and criticized Jobs for his “cruel” leadership style, while others craved this type of feedback and wished to work in this environment.

Learning how to receive and benefit from critical feedback is a skill that can be learned. Criticism naturally causes discomfort, but discomfort is causal to growth. You have to reframe how you think about criticisms and the resulting unease.

You can start practicing by seeking honest feedback from your friends or colleagues. It will take time for most to feel comfortable dishing out criticisms. It’ll take time for you to reframe it and feel comfortable receiving it. But once you notice the benefits, you’ll perpetually seek it out.