Who is Your Critic?

We've all been there before. You have an idea or are wrapping up a project and want feedback. When you run it by others, you get "Looks great", "Nice work", "Great job", etc. So, you start working on your idea to make it something more than just a concept or you submit your project. That's when you get the feedback and think "Oh, I should have", "I wish I would have", or learn the hard way that it was a failure from the beginning.

If you hit the mark every time or everyone surrounding you always tells you how great your ideas and work are - you are surrounded by "Yes" people. These people have good intentions, to make you happy, that is. They also are not comfortable enough in your relationship to tell you otherwise. You are missing out on the opportunities to push yourself beyond what you think you can do and to learn and grow and see things from different perspectives.

You need a critic. A critic feels comfortable telling you things that you may not like hearing or want to hear. They only give the pure and honest truth from their perspective. The value in having a critic is that you can always trust and believe what they say, using their experience and perspective, and are not solely feeding you information based upon what they think you want to hear.

How do you go about finding a critic?

1. Identify potential critics by first searching through your close network for an individual you would feel most comfortable having as a critic. Ask yourself: Are they trustworthy? Do you have a good relationship? Would they be able to provide you with valuable feedback and stay within the Critic Boundaries? Can they maintain confidentiality?

2. Establish your Critic Boundaries, or rules. For example, you may want to only receive professional feedback, not personal feedback, or you may want to only receive solicited feedback.

3. Speak with the individual you have identified in your search about your desire for a critic. Let them know that due to your existing relationship, you thought they would make a good candidate. Invite them to be your critic within your given Critic Boundaries and give them time to consider the responsibility. This is a huge responsibility and you should be open to them not accepting the invitation because they do not want the potential of damaging the existing relationship. If they do not accept, do not be offended. Express your understanding and appreciation for consideration. You will now need to move on to another candidate and follow the same procedure. If your critic accepts, wonderful! Congratulations, you now have a trustworthy and confidential feedback system in place.

4. Always stay true to the critic relationship. You can never express an emotional reaction towards your critic for the feedback they have offered. This would break the confidence and disintegrate the critic relationship. Restrain yourself from reacting by asking questions for more clarification and/or giving yourself time to reflect on the feedback given.

Having a critic does not mean you will receive endless negative feedback. It merely means that you will receive pure and sometimes unfiltered feedback. This could be positive, constructive, or negative. Regardless of what you may believe, you are not your best critic. We all need a secondary or tertiary honest and brutal opinion. You still get to do with it what you want, but at least you have it. Be thankful that you have a critic! Too many people do not and are lead to believe they are the best and the greatest in everything they think, say, and do. Since this is not you, go find your critic - or thank them, if you already have one.


April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.

Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.

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