Last week I received some feedback I’d been waiting for. I needed it to continue with my chapter so it was great to get it, but not so great to read it.
Now, I’m a native English speaker. I know how to write. I know what sounds good. I’ve been doing this research thing for a while, but every time I get feedback, I feel like I’m not good enough. I feel like they are criticising parts of me – not just my work.
I get that email and I don’t want to read it after I see all the corrections, edits, questions, and – worse of all – rewrites.
I really like my supervisor, but it’s still so hard to get this kind of feedback.
Last week it took a strong cup of coffee and a clear head. I went for a walk before reading it, to remind myself that this is just a part of me and not all of me. I sat down with my lunch and began reading. It wasn’t that bad, I mean, there was a lot, but the comments and questions made sense. And ultimately, it will make this piece of writing better.
How do you deal with constructive criticism? Remember it’s not about you. It’s not about how good or bad you are. It’s about improvement – being able to publish, learning to be even more concise, understanding what things you know that no one else does, and even though it’s hard to read, it’s worth it.
If you’re going to stay in research, constructive criticism will become your frenemy. It’s ok to get angry and sad and moody, but don’t let it touch you as a person.
Let it happen, take it, and absorb it, and then let it go. Because you know what? You’re awesome. Your research and your words are a job, and constructive criticism is all about ways to improve that job.
Written by Anonymous (he/she didn’t want any of your criticism no matter how constructive it might be.)