"I Didn't like Your Article": How I Responded to Criticism of My Own Work

 

Criticism seems to be a concept that, generation after generation, we are taught to accept as a hard pill; one better to swallow than to take personally. When faced with criticism on my previous article for HERCampus I was put to the test, to see how well I would swallow my own hard pill.

My article, “Why I Want a Partner, Not a Husband”' focused on my acceptance of the possibility of marrying a man who would call me partner, not wife, and vice versa. The article addressed the concept of marriage and labels, from family, social norms, and possible backlash from outsiders. The article was a very surfaced level response to the concept of marriage, as I attempted to dig deep while at the same time limiting the length of my article. When I put out my work I did not expect criticism, rather the hope that a couple of people would swipe up on my article on Instagram, read it, and then go about their day. However, to my surprise, at around 3 pm I got a text from one of my closest friends, a straight male, whose honesty I always held close to heart, that read my work with disappointment.

Some of his criticisms were

“ I didn't understand the point of the last bit like I feel like it trivializes some of the structural violence denials of marriage and the ability to be ‘husband or wife’ has done”

“I liked the title….but I left somewhat confused because it implied more a focused commitment and friendship”

“I feel like there was a lot here but not much in-depth analysis of the points you brought up”

 Oh, but the criticism didn't stop there…

The next day I received a phone call from my elder sister who thought I had “gone mad”, and asked me if it's because I, by nature, am dominant, so being someone’s wife to me would feel like being second to a man. She even questioned if I was “scared of the wife title, but still wanted the benefits that came with it?”

 How did I respond to each?

For my respected male friend I initially was gonna scream through the phone, as upset statements such as “oh well another straight male said he liked my post so you sir are a hater” lingered in my mind; however I kept silent.  When hearing his critical statements I had to ask myself which are valid, which are subjective, and are my countering arguments stemming from sensitivity or rationality?

Battling between my patient nature vs my passionate fireside I didn't respond for five minutes. That’s the first step to criticism: Patience. It's better to wait until your emotions calm, or it will cloud your judgement. When I did this I was able to give myself enough space to piece together a more rational answer, because I gave myself enough time to fully process each of his constructive criticism. What I came to accept from his honesty was the lack of my article, to some extent, fully addressing the concept of marriage in response to the title “husband and wife” and social issues. In doing so I now plan own using his critiques to better my future #HERCampus articles. In regards to his other criticisms that I still grappled with, we instead chose to “agreed to disagree”; this allowed both of us to move from the topic professionally.

For my sister, I accepted her criticism more lightly, as her’s  stemmed from a classic “protective older sister to younger sister” relationship. I instead simply clarified myself, however already accepted that she may never fully understand my personal reasons; this prevented me from being as defensive to my work, as I was to my male counterpart.

            What I took from both parties, at the end, was this important lesson: constructive criticism comes in different ways, however, it's up to you to decide how to react. At the end constructive criticism is healthy for anyone, especially for their work.  Next time you're in the same position I encourage you to follow these steps I took! Hopefully it works for you:)

 

  1. Be Calm. The more clam, the better your response.
  2. Ask yourself first,where the intent of the criticism is coming from, and from who?
  3. Take each criticism apart, and process it rationally.
  4. Think through your responses.
  5. And then decide if it is worth it to respond or better to accept it and leave it alone.
  6. Finally, MOVE ON FROM IT!

 Dina John

 

 

Edited by Carlie Mashia