Flawed Criticism: Ignore these Words

by | Brand storytelling, Business mindset

The reluctance to tell your brand story — the sometimes very personal reason you do what you do — is understandable.

There are harsh critics out there. And there are imaginary critics in your head. But some of their words can be safely ignored.

“This is terrible.”

“Who would buy this?”

Those words aren’t based on the skills or delivery method of the professional in question (that would be you, my friend).

They’re not expert opinions.

Here’s the translation:

“I don’t like it.”

“I don’t get it.”

I remember being a kid in an art gallery. A family member burst out, “Now this I like!” We were in the contemporary gallery and he was staring at a fire extinguisher near the exit.

Don’t confuse expert feedback with personal taste

You may share that fire extinguisher view about certain kinds of art. But it’s worth asking if a personal opinion automatically qualifies something as “bad”.

(I’m not a big fan of broccoli. That does’t make it any less nutritious.)

We see the world through our own filters.

Our immediate reactions reveal our preferences and priorities. They’re often a reflexive statement rather than a thoughtful examination of the qualities of the thing in front of us.

We don’t always stop to consider. Few of us are taught the finer points — or the importance — of critical thinking.

It’s easy to be careless with words in the moment. Or with thoughts, when you imagine someone sending condemnation in your direction.

Plus there’s the brain’s negative bias reflex. Get 100 compliments and one snarky comment, and the snark lights up in pink neon. Because our brains are always on alert for threats.

That’s not a character flaw. The way past it is to be mindful of when it pops up.

Constructive criticism doesn’t sound like snark. So don’t take careless words to heart.

Focus on your customers

If someone doesn’t like or understand what you do, or the way you choose to do it, they’re not your customer. That’s not a bad thing.

If we all had the same preferences there would be no marketplace, and no room for diversity in style or service delivery.

(If you see work you consider less than perfect and wonder “Who buys this stuff?”, the answer is simple: their customers. Not your customers.)

Writing honestly about your work and your process helps people get to know you better. But you’re not obligated to convince anyone who reacts without thinking. You can let them find their own way to your work. That’s their choice, with or without a side order of broccoli.

Focus on reassuring the people who feel like they’re in the right place — the people who are nearly ready to buy.

It’s important to be objective about where you are in the marketplace and in your career. That’s a skill we all need to develop. Not everyone you meet will become a fan.

Don’t let someone’s personal taste or that judgy voice in your head derail you. Make your work and tell your story, your way.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash