Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How do you handle criticism?

Whether a writer or not, we all get criticism. No kidding-I just received a phone call, from a stranger, full of criticism for a typo on a TV PSA ad telling about an open house for my Toastmaster's club today. This person felt that it was her duty (at 11 p.m.) to correct a misspelling. Huh? She did not leave her name, only that she was an English Major (and so I guess I'm supposed to take her word.) It must feel safe to be anonymous.

An eye-opener for sure! No matter what you do, where you are, what you want to achieve there will be nay-sayers. People who feel it is their great calling in life to let you know how you failed them. Some you really will fail and some you won't. It will be their opinion against yours. It will be their deep conviction to convince you of that monstrous failure.

l guess the important thing here is how you respond. So how do you?

Tonight I asked the woman what compelled her to call me at home at this late hour. Her response was that she thought she was leaving a message, that was all she told me. Fine. I thanked her and said I would do what I could to correct it. Since it shouldn't run again, I suppose it's corrected. But then I emailed the friend who put the PSA in and asked for two things. The first was a correction (if at all possible) and the second was that next time we post hours of contact. Ah well. Who knows if that would have stopped her.

The reality, there was a mistake. It was one I personally would not have taken the time to bother about because it's an obvious typo. I accept that people are human. So as far as it is in my power, I'll help the woman get over the stumbling block.

I also learned something else. I learned that even though I wanted to tell her something else, the Holy Spirit (thankfully) stepped in and guided me into a more gracious attitude. (Trust me, I wasn't feeling it after the week I've had.) But I realized she had no idea and I could cause harm with my words, if my feelings were let loose on a perfect stranger. I have no idea who she is, what her situation is, or why she was so compelled to call me. Serious gut check! She knew who I was, had my home phone number, and could easily be offended. I made a decision to be kind. I did tell her that our group was aware of the spelling, but that we would do our best to correct the error.

Sometimes, it's better to be tolerant. I hope I was. I wouldn't later want to find out that I had caused her distress. You just never know. What if she'd lived through a really bad day? What if this little vestige of control in her world was all she had? I could handle that. But I wouldn't want to be responsible for what she couldn't handle and I was not in the position to know.

Criticism. Sometimes I think it comes from people who focus on the tiniest of things because their lives are so out of control. I hope we can consider that there are often unseen things we'll never know about that could make a huge difference. Be careful in the little things so that you can be trusted in the bigger ones. You might find a ministry where you least expect it.



  1. Angie,
    This post is right on. You never know where another person is coming from. I haven't always appreciated this statement, but it is so true.

    I have an acquaintance who is always critizing others, family or friend no one is safe, and I never know how to properly handle the situation. Sometimes I try to suggest another view point that may be that of the person who irritated her, but sometimes I just sit back and say "uh-huh" because I know many times I'm talking to deaf ears. Thing is, you never know when someone is listening. Sometimes I think this is one of those ministries you're talking about, even when most days I want to shrug it off as another irritant.

    But look at what Christ went through, and all the burdens He took upon. And I in no way can begin to compare myself to Him, but continue to try and look to His greatness and be a better person.

    I'm proud of you, Angie, for the way you handled your critic. You had a tough week. We can all say we've had hard weeks, but no one has walked in our shoes. Thank you for this post today.

    May the Lord bless and keep you safe in his arms, my friend.


  2. Thank you Christy:-) You always have a kind word to say. You have so much to offer the world. Even your comment shows maturity and wisdom.
    Glad to know and be connected to you,

  3. I'm sorry you had to deal with that person, Angie, especially with the week you've had. You handled it well.

    And you're right. I try very hard to always put myself in the other person's shoes when someone has acted badly toward me. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. But sometimes that's so hard when feelings have been hurt or I'm angry. So I'm glad you reminded me.

    It's also a very good point about people acting like they do because maybe they have so little control over other areas of their lives. I'll try to remember that next time.


  4. I think sometimes a critical spirit is a defense mechanism. Criticize others before they criticize you.

    I think you handled it well. :)

  5. Thanks Audra:-) all the comments from everyone shows that you are all very compassionate souls. What a great group!