We all know that having the humility and ability to take criticism constructively is vital to self-growth and the development of any product, service or goals you are working towards.
The problem is: we may have so much criticism coming from different angles during certain times of life that it is hard to discern what is valuable, and what isn’t.
Side note: if you aren’t a fan of the word “criticism”, just sub it for “advice”. I think it’s the same thing.
As a business owner, especially of a startup subscription-based food service, I probably receive more criticism (or “advice”) than the average Joe. At times, I can get overwhelmed with all the information I am receiving that I get decision fatigue on what I should consider strongly, what I should generally consider, and what I simply need to ignore.
So after considering this thought many times, I decided to break down what I believe to be the 4 types of criticism, and follow that with a process on how to evaluate the criticism in order to act accordingly.
These are the 4 Types of Criticism:
1. Internal & Educated
*Internal is basically your thoughts. It’s the criticism you give yourself. Educated is anything that is well informed based on formal information or personal experience.
This would be like if you went to squat 400 pounds, and in your mind, you are telling yourself “I can’t do this”, knowing that the most you have ever done is 300 pounds. That was a thought that was based on personal experience and formal education, so it is most likely accurate.
2. External & Educated
*External is from outside sources, like friends, family, coworkers, etc.
This would be like if you made a logo for your business, and you asked an experienced and educated Marketing Specialist or Brand Specialist for their feedback. Their criticism would be external and educated.
3. Internal & Uneducated
*Uneducated is any criticism that has no experience, evidence or information to support it.
For example, let’s say you tell yourself “I’m not a good public speaker, so maybe I shouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity”. And the truth is that these thoughts are coming from no real basis, because you have never actually done any public speaking.
4. External & Uneducated
Just like the last example, but this time it is coming from an external source. One of your friends say, “you shouldn’t take advantage of that speaking opportunity because you aren’t good at it”, when you both know that you have never done this before. There is no real weight to carry that assumption.
I put these 4 types together and wanted to explain them to show that not all criticism is equal, but it is all important. I always say that “with every pound of criticism – there is usually at least an ounce of truth”. So, although uneducated advice may seem invaluable, it should still be considered, but most likely very lightly.
Educated and internal, however, should be considered much more strongly. The same goes with educated and external. If an expert gives you advice, it should be taken very seriously.
My recommendation is that you take all criticism with an open mind. You will get it from every angle at some point in life, but if you learn to consider it, categorize it, then evaluate it, you will be able to more efficiently apply it.