No one likes to hear criticism. I have never met anyone who is eager to be critiqued and quartered on something they have done that didn’t meet with full approval and rave reviews. Authors, actors, poets, prognosticators and zealots all do what they do out of passion and love for which no one ever wants their work to be ripped apart, out on display as inferior and forgotten.
But, it doesn’t matter what we do in life, criticism can be a wonderful thing. It can be life altering and it can be life saving. I remember as a young officer being debriefed by my coach officer on how I handled a situation. I was proud of myself and thought I had done a really good job at this certain event. I will never forget the words that came out of his mouth, “Well, you’re alive so it wasn’t all bad.” He then proceeded to rip my performance apart from top to bottom and every other direction available to him.
I couldn’t see how bad my own performance was because I was living it and had no other basis for comparison. He on the other hand, had years of experience, way more training and common sense. I had books and role playing. He had school of hard knocks. I had a ‘Builder Bob’ tool belt. He had a Craftsman 5000 piece tool chest with 80 drawers and custom dividers that rolled on wheels with air powered delivery.
I listened to him. I knew that I was inferior and could learn much from my master who had way more experience.
Another time, I was the coach officer and my youngling decided to show me a trick on the computer that I had never seen before. He was a programmer in his previous life. Even though I had all the experience and know how to help in policing, I didn’t have all the skills for everything and I was able to learn from someone with no experience in my world. He was able to bring his own experience and teach the old dog a new trick.
We have all had strangers tell us how to do our jobs. You know, they pay our salaries, so therefore they know what we do, how we do it and how to do it better….always.
Sometimes though, there might be an air of truth to that. Perhaps looking outside the box at a problem can shed some new light on how to deal with a problem. Nothing like fresh eyes without years of conditioned filters in place blocking out the sunshine. When you think you do everything right, it’s tough to e told that you can do better. If you get offended by the thought of someone trying to help, then maybe you have a problem bigger than just dealing with criticism.
Finally there are those that when faced with criticism go on the offensive and defend themselves at the cost of losing all objectivity. Others cower in a corner and cry. Another group my use their power or authority and attack in an attempt to shut down the critics.
One of my favourite sayings in the world is by Benjamin Franklin…
“Love thy enemies, for they will tell you your faults.”
Think about it…if you know your faults, you recognize your faults and you fix your faults, does that not put you in a position to be greater than you were before? So why wouldn’t you listen?
Can this be applied to Social Media?
YES!!! Of course it can. Remember that social media is communication. Nothing more, nothing less. People will communicate with you on many different things and you will communicate to the public on many different things.
All the above applies. You can be criticized, ridiculed and ripped apart very publicly. You can be complimented, cheered and placed on a pedestal. The responses to each can be key in understanding, learning, developing rich relationships and making yourself better than you were before.
The most important thing that has to happen is ensure that the communication is properly in place. Ensure that the circle was closed and that all the information has been given, received and understood.
- Has the sender conveyed their information properly?
- Was it understood by the receiver?
- Was there clarification requested / delivered?
- Was there understanding on both sides?
- Is more information / education required?
How you respond to each says so much about you.
- You can educate when needed or be educated when needed.
- You can be combative or you can be contrite.
- You can be courageous or you can be a coward.
One of the most important differences between real life and social is that all of the social aspect will happen almost exclusively in a very public forum where you can be easily judged on your ‘performance’. The public has this incredible BS meter as well and will know if you are being patronizing, sarcastic, honest, willing to learn, listening to help or just going through the motions.
If you get criticized, ask for clarification why. See if there is a misunderstanding that you can help educate the people about. Learn if there is something you could be doing better? Perhaps the community that you are serving could be better served? Or, you could cry like a child who didn’t get their way and have a tantrum about how people should and shouldn’t behave….one will get you deserved respect, the other….
You can use the forum of social media as a place to build brand ambassadors, influence detractors and change the conversation all for your benefit. But, you can also do all of that to your detriment.
A new champion from an old enemy can be a very powerful friend….a brand ambassador turned against you is a very influential enemy. Pick which you would rather have.