We all need input from others to help us improve but when dealing with negative comments it’s important to know the difference between feedback vs criticism. And no, you don’t have to take every piece of advice you receive. But maybe you should take some of it.
When deciding if something is feedback vs criticism it all comes down to motivation. This isn’t always easy to discern but once you know the difference it will be easier to identify.
Feedback vs Criticism
Feedback is a response or reaction to an activity. It can be negative but its intention is to correct and/or inspire positive change. Feedback is specific and precise.
Criticism speaks in general terms relying on statements like “always” and “never.” It assumes motives for behaviour and applies sweeping blame and judgment.
Another difference between feedback vs criticism is feedback focuses on behaviour/problems and is most often given in private whereas criticism focuses on the personal and is often given in a public setting.
The best way to tell if you’re receiving feedback vs criticism is to determine what the intention of the negative comment is. If it’s intended to shame you or is a personal attack this is criticism. If it’s intended to solve a problem and help you improve then it’s feedback. You still don’t have to take the feedback but at least you know it’s coming from a good place.
Many of us hold back from publishing or putting ourselves out there online and on social media because we’re petrified of negative feedback and critical comments. We’re already insecure enough—and our self-talk works hard to keep us humble. The last thing we need is rejection from Internet strangers.
Except we need to put ourselves out there. Because professionals publish their work; they put themselves out there.
I love the way Jeff Goins puts it in You Can Be a Critic or a Creator (But You Have to Choose One):
Professionals make things every day and then they share them. That’s how they get better—by making things. Amateurs, on the other hand, wait for their big break and hide in the shadows until someone discovers them. Incidentally, they are the ones who are quick to criticize those making things. Which one would you rather be: the brave creator, or the cowering critic?
But what if you are the brave creator and still receive negative comments? If it’s criticism you can ignore it but if it’s feedback here are a few strategies for dealing with it effectively.
How to respond to negative feedback
- Recognize it’s not personal and be polite in your response
- Respond in a way that lets the person know s/he’s heard
- Don’t rush to reach or take the feedback at face value
- In a day or two, embrace constructive feedback
- Keep your response short, simple and sweet
- If needed, apologize and sympathize in your response
- Insert a little marketing into your response if possible
- As soon as possible move the conversation offline
Publishing in the digital age means we can receive instant feedback and so we need to develop thick skin. Learning to recognize the difference between feedback vs criticism and responding (when appropriate) in an effective way will not only help you improve but also help you grow your fan and follower base.