by Beth Winter~
Learning to accept critique as beneficial is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to learn. To begin with, poets take pride in their work and often write as personal expression. Learning that someone thinks our work could be better puts us in a defensive posture, ready to dismiss the critique, undermine the ability of the one offering criticism and go as far as argue our case. For some reason, we would rather argue for no change than accept that in another’s opinion, our work could be better.
Imagine grade school. You are sitting there with your hand in the air, eager to share your valuable knowledge. It is your turn and as you finish presenting your point, the teacher says you are wrong and proceeds to point out the errors in front of the class. Demoralized, you stand and stare at your feet.
Now imagine a classroom where after giving your response, the teacher says “I really like your answer even though I don’t agree with parts of it. Would you consider these points instead? Thank you for sharing.” Both bolstered and corrected, your mind is opened to new ways of seeing things and you still have pride in your work.
Self-defense is a natural response when challenged. Effective critique is made up of two elements, giving and receiving. When giving critique, point out the good as well as the not so good. When faced with receiving critique, take a breath to slow impulsive reactions, begin your response with thank you and consider that a differing opinion may have value. As always, critique is simply someone’s opinion. You’re allowed to differ.