Don't confide in anyone until they've passed this test.
Learning how to receive criticism is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things you can do for yourself. It’s important to try and see your effort or work with a more discerning eye, and sometimes that’s hard to do without another person whose opinion you trust.
But just how can you figure out who it is you should trust to give you their thoughts?
We’ve all had at least one person in our lives whose gotten that look on their face before they wind up and say, “Can I be brutally honest with you for a minute?” Before you even know what they’re going to say, you know you aren’t going to like it. Probably because they’ve done this in the past, and each time you came away a blubbering mess feeling worse about yourself than you’ve ever felt before in your life.
A lot of the time, the people that actually want to weigh in on decisions in your life are the ones that always make you feel crappiest when they’re done.
Of course, there are people who will do everything they can to tear you down and make you feel like you’re not good at anything. Sometimes, these people tend to come packaged with the pre-warning label of being “brutally” honest.
According to Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, however, those people tend to be far more “brutal” than “honest” with their critiques. And surprisingly enough, we may end up going back to those people for years because we feel that they’re just being “honest,” even though every time they speak, it hurts us.
So just how can you determine who is worthy of your attention or whose opinion you should actually listen to about your life or work? Well, Gilbert had some ideas of her own about that.
She believes that there are 4 specific questions that you need to ask yourself before you allow someone to weigh in on your work. Not everyone in your life should get a say on the things that you’re doing, and in order to figure out who deserves that say-so, you’re going to need some criteria to make sure that you’re not allowing someone to bring you down unnecessarily.
So, here are 4 questions you need to ask yourself before you let someone give you criticism:
1. Do I trust this person’s taste and judgment?
This is important! If you don’t think that this person is a good judge or that they make poor choices, what are you doing listening to them? If you already find someone’s judgment questionable, then why are you going to ask them to give an opinion on something in your life?
2. Does this person understand what I’m trying to create here?
If you’re working on something, whether it’s a creative pursuit like writing a book, or even a love or work matter, if the person you’re asking for advice or opinions doesn’t care or get what you’re trying to say, then you might just be barking up the wrong tree. Might want to put that one to rest for the future.
3. Does this person genuinely want me to succeed?
The importance of this might be lost on some people, but it really is crucial. If you’re asking someone for advice and they either don’t care what happens to you or don’t think it’s actually important, then they could end up giving you very bad advice. And this could hurt your endeavors for the future very easily. Always be certain that the person you’re asking has your best interests at heart.
4. Is this person capable of delivering the truth to me in a sensitive and compassionate manner?
In other words, if you’re going to leave the table crying when you’re done talking to them, it should be with tears of joy. Someone who is “brutal” isn’t necessarily honest with you. They might just have negative critiques that will hurt your ability to move forward with a project or a major decision in your life.
You should always look for advice from someone who can tell you what they think in a manner that doesn’t leave you a heartbroken, crying mess for two days afterward.