You’ve probably heard that criticism is the best way to improve your work. But what happens when that criticism comes in a cashmere sweater?
We’ve all been there: you’re working on a project, and then someone else comes along and says something about how it could be better. It’s easy to feel like they just don’t understand, or they’re not as invested in your project as you are—even though they are! We all want to be successful in our careers, so we really want to hear what people have to say about how we can do that. But sometimes, it can be hard to separate the person from their criticism.
That’s why I recommend taking time out of each day for self-care. You know what works for you: maybe it’s yoga or meditation or journaling or cooking dinner—whatever it is, just make sure you do it at least once every 24 hours! It will help keep your mind clear so that when someone does offer their advice or criticism of your work, instead of getting defensive or feeling attacked by it, you’ll be able to take it in stride and consider whether or not it has merit.
Criticism is like a cashmere sweater. It’s soft, comforting, and makes you feel warm, fuzzy, and loved.
It’s also delicate, fragile, and easily frayed by even the slightest tug.
When you criticize someone—whether it’s to their face or behind their back—you’re taking that delicate cashmere sweater and pulling it apart in your hands. You’re not just damaging someone’s feelings; you’re also damaging their self-confidence and their ability to trust others.
And when you give criticism, whether it’s explicit or implicit? You’re doing the same thing: ripping apart someone else’s sense of themselves in order to make yourself feel better. You might think that tearing someone down will help them see what they need to change so they can improve themselves (or whatever your goal is), but all you’re really doing is destroying any chance of them trusting another human being again.
You may not be aware of how much you need this sweater until you actually get one and put it on—and then you wonder how you ever lived without it.
I’m one of those people who just knows what to do and when to do it, and I’m happy to share my knowledge with the people around me.
It’s why I feel so comfortable in this role as an advice columnist: it’s all about dispensing words of wisdom and helping others to be their best selves. But lately, I’ve been worried that some of the things I say might be a little too harsh—or even mean—for some people’s tastes. And while I’m not trying to be mean-spirited or hurt anyone’s feelings, I think it’s important for me to remember that sometimes less is more when it comes to giving advice.
So here are my four tips:
- 1) Don’t give advice if the person asking doesn’t want it
- 2) Ask questions instead of telling them what they should do (this will make them feel more empowered)
- 3) Make sure you’re being clear about your intentions when offering up advice (so they know where you’re coming from)
- 4) Remember that no one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes!
I have a lot of advice to give you.
But I don’t like to give it in a way that makes you feel bad about yourself.
I want to help you. I want to give you the tools and guidance that you need to be happy, healthy, and successful.
So instead of criticizing where you are right now, let’s talk about where we’re going together. Let’s talk about what your goals are, and how I can help you get there.
Criticism is like a cashmere sweater: soft and warm, but you don’t want it for Christmas.
When you receive criticism, it’s easy to get defensive. But if you can remember that criticism is actually a gift—a chance to grow and improve yourself—you’ll be able to use it to make yourself better.
So what’s the difference? The word “advice” means something other than criticism. It’s something that you want to give or do, like giving advice to your friend about their crush or telling them how to get over it. Criticism is usually something negative, like telling someone they’re not doing their job right.
So if you want to criticize someone, call it criticism! If you want to give advice or make a recommendation, call it advice!
Criticism, like a cashmere sweater, is best when it’s light and airy.
When you’re giving feedback to someone who’s doing something that matters to you, try to approach it with compassion—and be honest.
If you’re offering criticism in a way that makes them feel bad about themselves or their work, they’ll probably feel defensive and won’t hear what you’re trying to tell them. If they do feel defensive, they’ll suddenly have no interest in hearing what’s on your mind—or at least not until they’ve had time to calm down and think about your words without feeling attacked by them.
So instead of going with the “I’m gonna give you some tough love” approach (which might be necessary sometimes), try being kind and gentle: “I love your work; I just think that if we tweak this one thing, it could be even more awesome!”
Criticism is hard. It’s easy to take it personally, but the best way to handle criticism is to try and see it as an opportunity.
It’s not your fault that someone doesn’t like your work. It happens to everyone, and if you’re not getting any feedback, you’re probably not making enough of a difference in your field.
But when you do get feedback, don’t take it personally. Just listen to what they have to say, identify what needs improvement, then go home and make some changes based on their advice. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it can be when you’re not worried about making yourself look bad!
If you’re looking for the right way to give advice, the first thing you need to do is identify what your goal is. Do you want to help them? Do you want them to think of themselves as less capable than they are? Or do you just want them to agree with you?
If your goal is to help someone, then it’s important that your advice be specific and actionable. A vague “you should” or “you could” won’t get anybody anywhere. Instead, try starting off with something like: “If I were in your shoes, I’d try…” or “I found this really helpful when I was going through [situation].” If they’re interested and engaged enough to listen closely, they’ll take these steps on their own without any additional prodding from you!
To give others the impression that they are less capable than they are, however, try saying things like: “I could never do that,” or “That would never work for me.” This will make them feel bad about themselves and hopefully inspire them to seek out opportunities where they can prove how wrong you are! And if all else fails, just tell them how hard their lives must be because of how incredibly difficult
Advice is criticism in a cashmere sweater. It’s the kind of thing you don’t want to hear, but you’re glad someone gave it to you.
It’s not that the advice-giver is trying to hurt you; it’s that (s)he doesn’t understand the unique context of your life, and so when s(he) gives you advice, there’s a good chance it will be off-base.
So what do you do? You have three options:
1) Ignore their advice entirely, because it won’t be helpful anyway.
2) Take their advice and use it as a starting point for your own research. Maybe they’re right—but maybe they’re wrong! You need to figure that out for yourself.
3) Ask them questions about their experience with whatever issue you’re facing in order to get a better sense of how much stock to put into their opinion.
Criticism is one of the most powerful tools we have to improve our work, but it’s also one of the most difficult to handle. It can feel harsh and hurtful, especially if it comes from someone whose opinion you value.
But when criticism is delivered in a compassionate and constructive way, it can help you grow as a person and as a professional. The trick is to be prepared for it when it happens—and to respond with grace.
Here are 3 tips on how to take criticism well:
1) Don’t take it personally. It’s easy to assume that criticism reflects on you as a person or that someone who criticizes your work is criticizing your character. But that’s not always true! People have different perspectives and priorities, so what they see as “good” might be different than what you think is good. Try not to get defensive when someone gives you feedback—instead, try seeing where they’re coming from and using their comments as an opportunity for growth.2) Understand why they’re giving feedback. People usually don’t criticize just for the sake of criticizing—they’re doing so because they see something in your work that could be improved or expanded upon in some way. They
You’re probably not going to like it, but I think it’s good for you. You can take it or leave it—it’s your choice.
I’ve been watching you make a lot of mistakes lately. You’re making these mistakes because you’re not thinking ahead, and because you don’t have a plan for what happens after the mistake is made.
Here’s my advice: think about your mistakes before they happen. Think about what will happen if you make that mistake, and come up with a plan for how to fix it before it actually happens.