In the end, people appreciate honest criticism
far more than flattery.
Proverbs 28:23 (NLT)
While studying theatre in college, my professor worked hard to teach us the value of honest criticism and temptation of listening to empty flattery. After a show you’ll have a throng of people tell you “good job,” but that hollow compliment does nothing for you. When someone tells you “good job,” my professor said, your response should be “What was good about it?” A specific praise about a moment, an action, or a decision you made on stage that struck them positively is something from which you can learn and build on. A simple “good job,” profits you nothing.
Better still is when someone gives you the gift of an honest piece of criticism. A character in the script I’m polishing up is given a very specific age to play. After reading the play, one of the readers commented that the lines and stage directions seemed too young for the age described. When she said that it was like a cloud parted and I saw it for the first time. She hit the nail on the head. I completely rewrote a bunch of dialogue and action to fix it.
I don’t understand people who think criticism is a bad thing, inherently negative, and something not to be tolerated. I may not like some of what I hear, but if I understand what’s not working for people I can fix it or at least I can better communicate why I’m doing or saying or acting the way I do so that others can have a better understanding of the decisions I’ve made.
Today, I’m grateful for those in my life who are willing to be honestly critical with me.