Having asserted the importance of criticism, I also need to assert the importance of sorting out the useful from the useless.
Just as we need to be aware of our inner Criticizers and Protectors, we also need to be fully engaged with our own ability to distinguish worth – let’s call this inner voice the Analyzer. It ‘s our main ally in making good choices.
Receiving criticism has two aspects: making sure you get it, and then analyzing it as to its usefulness. Just as we often filter input through our egos, people often deliver criticism through a number of their own filters. Some of these include their egos, style preferences that may have nothing to do with content, various personal ideologies, a desire (conscious or not) to elevate themselves at your expense, or a ton of other attributes that are part of the human condition.
The job of your inner Analyzer is to look for these filters and then assess the feedback to see if they’re driving the input in a way that makes it useless.
It’s a little like going to a yard sale. You arrive at the sale and see all the stuff laid out on tables for you to peruse. Some of it looks pretty good and some of it is not so great. Some of it looks like it might be good for someone else, even if it isn’t what you need at the moment; some of it looks like unadulterated junk. So you wander around, look at it all, buy what works for you, and leave the rest on the tables. You are under no obligation to buy any of it. If the seller becomes offended that you don’t take it all, too bad – in the end, using criticism is always the responsibility of the receiver.
I think this holds true even if you ask for it. Whether it’s useful or not requires your critical review – it’s your job to criticize the criticism, and your inner Analyzer will be more than happy to help you sort out the good, the bad and the drek.
What do you think? Do you get more drek than useful info? How to find people who will really give you useful feedback in the first place?