Loving Criticism · 15 September 2018

One of my friends coined a new term the other day. Loving Criticism. Mike said it was what he does with me when he mentions my writing in conversations or makes fun of me. I think it really means that he loves to criticize.

Actually, I do not think that Mike loves to criticize. He does like to tease though. So when he makes oblique comments about a blog post I just posted, I rarely understand that he is making fun of me or criticizing me or making oblique comments about my writing. I am just not that subtle. Or clever. Besides, I often forget exactly what I posted that day or that week.

Which brings me to the other side of loving criticism. The side that uses loving as a verb instead of an adjective.

Some people hate criticism. They think that it is putting them down. They think it is not appreciating them. Especially, their writing or photos or art. First of all, if people are going to be writers or artists (or anything else that might get criticism), they ought to develop thick skin. They need to understand that when you put stuff out there for people to read or see, some people are going to like it and some people are not. They need to understand that some people are going to rave about it, some people are going to criticize it, but most people will be silent about it. I hear the crickets many a time after I post my blog. (Unless one of my friends decides to give me an oblique or even overt comment about it.)

I doubt I would go so far as to say I love criticism, but I do like criticism. Praise is nice too, but criticism is better. Criticism is how I get better. It is the iron sharpening iron. For whether the criticism comes from somebody who knows anything or not, from friends or enemies, from sincerity or envy, it almost always has the potential for growth in it. And when it does not have that potential, you can just throw it away.

When people tell me that they are often hurt by criticism, I give them advice that I heard long ago. That is to catch criticism with your hands (preferably with a mitt) rather than with your heart. If you think of criticism as a pitch and yourself as the catcher, you can catch that criticism in your mitt. Then, you can examine it and see if it has any validity. If it does, keep it and learn from it. If not, throw it away and wait for the next pitch. Treating criticism that way is much easier on you than just putting all the criticism right into your heart. The sting on the hands is much easier to deal with than the sting on the heart.

Which brings me back to the loving criticism where “loving” is used as an adjective rather than a verb. (I hope you liked that subtle English lesson there.)

At least two of my friends and faithful readers like to give me comments about my writing. Often in the form of barbs or off-handed remarks. And I appreciate it. At least when I finally understand that they are making subtle comments about my writing. I love their loving criticism, whether it stings or not. Most of all I thank my friends for telling it like it is. And I thank Mike for coining the new term, Loving Criticism.

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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