DonnaM » Blog Archive » On criticism

On criticism

I’ve been thinking about criticism recently. You can probably guess why – we do it a lot to each other. For example, I create a design, someone criticises it. There may be one person or lots, and they may criticise different things.

What is interesting is how some people criticise, and how I react. Some critique – offering good feedback, and explaining why they think what they do (often clumsily, sometimes rudely, and occasionally politely). Some bite, either at me, or about me to others.

The first is great criticism. I don’t feel threatened, can probe and find out lots of useful information about what it is that doesn’t work. I can take that criticism and do something useful with it, to the benefit of the overall user experience.

The second type forces me into a place where I am either being defensive or in damage control. In this place, I have less chance of listening well and doing anything constructive. I hate being there.

But, I’m getting better at it. I’m finding ways to place myself more in the first situation and less in the second – by involving people earlier in a process, being polite myself and respecting their opinions. I still occasionally end up in the second place, and am learning to cope with it better.

Unfortunately, this all seems to be inherently part of our profession and our culture. Creation involves criticism…

2 Responses to “On criticism”

  1. Gunnar Langemark Says:

    Giving good feed back is an art. Being able to sift out the bad vibes of critizism of your work is a gift.
    When I – more than a decade ago – studied oral presentation at the Institute for Rhetorics at the University of Copenhagen, we were taught how to do that. I was never very good, but I’m learning still. I can take critizism better than most, but I have a tendency to be more rude than nescessary or to turn to so much diplomacy that it’s hard for people to tell how much I mean what I say.
    I think we should learn this in school. It is essential to being able to work in teams, and it is essential to being able to function in a culture of social networks, where the consequences of your actions may not be evident, as you work with people on the other side of the globe.

  2. Donna Maurer Says:

    Gunnar, I think we are quite similar.

    I turned to diplomacy so far once that my boss didn’t realise that I was very upset about something. I should have stuck with throwing things at him (which was something that I really did once!) – he at least understood me then.