The Gracious Acceptance of Criticism is Part of the Job

As I was thinking about this week’s topic, I was going to be all smug and smarmy and more-mature-than-thou about how much I love criticism and look at it as a chance to learn and improve my skills [0].

Then I got reminded that some critiques really are just petty, nit-picky, bullshit.

I try to come at critique with a humble mind aimed toward learning how to avoid mistakes in the future [1]. Is there a better approach for this audience? Is there another aspect of the issue that should be emphasized? Where was my writing unclear? How well did the structure work to guide and inform the reader? Are there any suggestions for improving my writing process? In that framework, the worst critique you can give me is, “I loved it! It’s super! You’re the best!” [2]

The best critiques, on the other hand, turn into conversations about process and document design and information management theory. Every document I write I’ve usually done some pretty deep thinking about how the information should be gathered, curated, and packaged, and I’m perfectly happy to explain and defend my choices.

Yeah. I sound like I’m polishing my halo a bit. But this is how professionals work. You put your ego away and get the job done, on time, within budget. That’s how to do a job well done, for which the reward is another (paid) job.

[0] I’m sorry.
[1] In real life, my reaction may involve going away for few minutes to curse the multiverse for putting such obvious idiots in my path. That out of my system, I can them come back and actually look for room for improvement.
[2] Often followed by, “Just one little thing….” Just give it to me straight.

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