The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Criticism

Dear readers,

Recently somebody very close to me hurt my feelings. Childish as it sounds, it wasn’t fun. The person in question was under the assumption that they were providing me with constructive criticism; however, it was delivered as a means to belittle me, and certainly felt like an attack. Luckily, this unfortunate situation inspired me to show you how I discern between different kinds of criticism, and how true constructive criticism is actually a beautiful thing, and helps me be a better student.

As students, but also as members of society, we are always open to any kind of criticism from people that are especially close to us in different mediums. For example, friends, family, co-workers, employers, etc; however, as students, constructive criticism usually comes from our professors, academic allies, and colleagues, and is necessary in our development as scholars. But, as emotional beings we sometimes think that any kind of criticism is a negative thing.  I am here to tell you that this is a fallacy. If we can learn to see the good from the bad, not only will it help us become better students, but also we can learn to surround ourselves with positivity, rather than negativity.

Constructive Criticism: the focus or purpose of this is for improvement. Many a time I’ve had professors and academic supporters tell me that my work wasn’t clear and the ideas weren’t just getting across. But, they also showed me ways to improve. The criticism was necessary because it made me learn to critique my own writing, so I could provide better pieces of scholarly work, and it certainly made me more confident as I got better grades. This kind of criticism usually isn’t told to you, but it’s part of a two way conversation. People who genuinely want to help you want to hear your point of view.

Plain ol’ criticism: Unlike constructive criticism, this form is with the purpose to offend, rather than to help you. People may tell you it’s for your own good, but if you get that gut feeling that you’re being attacked, you probably are. For example, I remember being part of a biology lab in first year. One of my group members was telling me I wasn’t doing things right (and I probably wasn’t –an Arts student doesn’t just feel quite at home amongst microscopes and other “sciency” thingamabobs), and I felt belittled. If they really wanted to help me, they could’ve shown me what to do, but they just verbally attacked me. This situation, as well as many others, has taught me that it’s best to a) ignore the criticizers and b) know you haven’t done anything wrong.  Don’t let others get you down!

The moral of the story is you need to listen to the good constructive criticism, and ignore the bad criticism. I find that if I surround myself with positive supporters that I perform better as a student. And, in the larger scheme of things, I want to surround myself with good people who I know want to see me do well in all aspects of my life. Hopefully this post has armed you with the tools on how to embrace constructive criticism, and defend yourself against negative criticism.


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