Are You Afraid Of The Red Pen? Why Professional Criticism Can Help Your Hustle

July 15, 2015  |  

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It’s okay to admit you have a problem when it comes to receiving criticism. In fact, it’s something many of us struggle with, considering how much of a sting it can be to your ego. You don’t have to be self-absorbed to feel a bit inadequate when someone questions a decision you made.

While there has thankfully been progress in this area of my life, if I’m speaking honestly, I hate receiving a ton of correction. I’m not sure if there’s some fancy term for it but I think “red pen syndrome” just about sums it up. When I was little, I had a teacher who would ask each student in her class to stand in front of her as she made edits to their paper. I still get chills thinking about my younger self in the second grade and that dang pen! Didn’t this teacher realize it was embarrassing to take “the walk of shame” back to your seat with paper marked in nothing but red ink?

Have you ever worked hard on a project, turned it in and got in return nothing but comments that made you question your level of intelligence? Between this and my need to constantly interject (thanks dad), it goes without saying I’ve had some troubles with constructive criticism over the years.

No matter your experience, at some point, you need to lighten up (myself included). Even if folks don’t approach you in the ideal tone — or even with the best intentions — you can still learn many things from their opinion. I constantly find myself learning from adjustments others make to my freelance work. Does it mean I’m a complete idiot? Absolutely not. If I was, there’s a pretty good chance those who hire me would find someone else to fill their needs.

Failure to take professional criticism spotlight areas of immaturity in your career that need correction. None of us have all the answers which is why companies hire so many employees to figure things out. If you’re constantly trying to argue a point that might not be correct, don’t be too surprised if and when you’re passed over for a promotion. In some instances, an employer may just say “thanks, but no thanks” and hire someone else to do what they asked. You never want to close yourself off from moments of growth that have the ability to enrich your hustle. As much as correction hurts, it can lead to fewer mistakes and more productivity on your end.

Isn’t that worth the critique?

One way that I learned to let go is to simply give folks the benefit of the doubt. Yes there are evil people out there who constantly plot and scheme to take you down. In most cases, you’ll find membership at the haters club pretty low, compared to those in your life who want to see you achieve. There are tons of professionals in my circle that inspire me to enhance my knowledgebase and skill set. Rather than brush off anything they have to say, I welcome their point of view, regardless of whether it matches mine or not.

Have you ever witnessed someone who thinks they know everything — and how they create a huge mess because they can’t shut up and take correction?

Don’t let that be you.

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