Most people would agree that it feels great to get positive feedback for our work. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our customers and peers gave positive reviews all the time for our stuff? No, it wouldn’t. Here’s why.
If constructive criticism suddenly stops forever, we won’t know how to improve ourselves. If you’re like most people, you’ll feel as though you have nothing to improve or learn regarding your craft. It will eventually show in your life through misspellings in your books, incomplete projects, illness due to poor health choices, bad parenting, etc. Do you really want to do your passion and goals a disservice by getting lazy and stagnant?
Another flaw is a common one: people who lie and enable failure just to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings. It is common for friends and family to blindly give positive feedback to terrible effort. Let’s say Ricky asks his sister, Janet, to help him study for a geometry test. She does what she can, but he just doesn’t get it. Impatient, she eventually tells him that he’s doing fine in practice, and he’ll ace the test.
Congratulations to Janet for not hurting her brother’s feelings. Now what? Because she lied to temporarily cheer him up, Ricky failed his test. In the end, no one benefited.
Much of the positive feedback that goes around in our society is frustratingly lazy. Some people are so quick to give a response that they barely know what they’re congratulating. You could just ask what they like best about your song, story, etc., and they’ll look like a deer caught in the headlights. We need to put an end to that. When are we going to stop giving fake compliments? Why do we bother to compliment someone’s work in the first place if we don’t mean it? Are we so afraid of what they’ll think of us that we’ll hide behind the “I don’t want to hurt their feelings” excuse, only to turn around and lie to them?
Negative criticism from loved ones can thicken your skin for rejection from people who can launch your career, as most of them won’t be so loving. Before co-founding Image Comics and co-creating Venom for Marvel Comics, Todd McFarlane was sent 350 rejection letters. Justin Bieber is a top-seller, but have you seen how vicious his critics are? Steve Jobs was fired from the company he created! Those scenarios are a bit harder to swallow than grandma timidly telling you that she doesn’t like your singing.
A colleague of mine introduced me to an interesting twist on reviewing someone’s work. He wanted me to watch some videos of his, and tell him everything I did not like about them. What an idea. After all, most people want something to complain about. Why not take advantage and let them tell you what not to do next time? I bet you’ll get more volunteers for that than you would by simply inviting people to watch your stuff.
Anybody can just click a Like button or say “good job!” and leave it at that. I challenge you to go beyond and let people know how you really feel about their work. If you like the way a YouTuber sings your favorite song, tell them that you like their voice. If you like the essay that your child wrote in school, tell them which part you like best. Even if you don’t like someone’s work, tell them what they can do better.
Make a nice day!