Five Tips for Handling Criticism

Anyone who performs invites criticism.

What are the best ways to deal with the criticism that may be coming? Read on!

1. Grow a thicker skin
Your prime strategy is to grow a thicker skin and let criticism bounce right off of you. If your skin is very sensitive, you feel every tickle and change in temperature. If you grow your skin thicker—through attitude change and cognitive work—even the rudest criticism will bounce right off of you!

2. Adopt a more philosophical attitude
Accept that criticism is part of life. Accept that criticism is part of a performer’s life. Accept that no one gets through life unscathed and that no one is guaranteed only milk and honey. Accept that life is not fair and that everyone has an opinion. Accept!

3. Learn the dance of attachment and detachment
You want to care about your performances, dream of your success, have ambitions and hopes, and in countless other ways “invest” in your identity as a performer. At the same time you must detach and not rise and fall according to how your performances are received. This is an intricate dance that requires thought and attention if you are to dance it well.

4. Silence self-criticism
It is one thing if someone “out there” criticizes you. It is another, worse thing if you are already feeling critical of yourself and if criticism from the world amplifies and exacerbates your negative appraisal of yourself. You can’t control what the world says; but you can decide not to bad mouth yourself!

5. Appraise situations correctly
Are you sure that you are even being criticized? If a musical director says he is busy and will chat with you tomorrow, maybe he is just busy! Why take that as implicit criticism of you or your work in the absence of any real reason to consider that criticism? Learn to gauge when you are actually being criticized!