“All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.” ―Anonymous

sunset

Rainbow Sky” Photo Credit to Tim Sees

It is true that the weather does not have to take criticism. The weather is above such plebeian worries as deadlines, bills, and pleasing customers. I am not lucky enough to be as carefree as the weather, so when criticism is offered, I make the best of it. This equates to using criticism as a learning experience. The things I like to keep in mind when receiving criticism are “how can this help me in the future?”, “is this constructive?”, and “am I being honest with myself?”

Now I’m not saying that every bit of criticism is valid (there are trolls in the world, after all!) but most suggestions are really helpful if we can keep an open mind and not take it personally. Being receptive to critiquing is particularly difficult when someone suggests changing something you’re really proud of. It’s hard to shake off the nettling feeling that “they’re wrong and I’m right”, but the truth is, other eyes don’t always share our rose-colored glasses. We might be overlooking some point that would be great for the piece, or not generating enough excitement for the part our client really wants to show enthusiasm for. Try not to let personal feelings get in the way of progress. We’re working to better ourselves and our product, after all!

Not all criticism is created equal, though. One of the more discouraging types of criticism might be better labelled as “micro-management”. This type of criticism is very frustrating because it tends to stifle the very creativity you were hired to use. What you have to remember in these situations is “they’re paying me to do this and I agreed to do the job, now see it through.” It can become soul crushing to work with someone who feels your work needs constant revision, but everything comes to an end sometime, even a trying assignment! There are times, however, when it’s best to cut your losses. Some paychecks aren’t worth the stress.

On the other hand, if I felt micro-managed more often than not, I would have to take a step back and really try to tease out just why this person feels the need to watch over my shoulder.

  • Am I understanding what they’re asking for? Am I really listening to what they are saying?
  • Am I truly making a good effort to implement the improvements they feel are necessary?
  • Do I have enough information going into the project?
  • Is something preventing me from doing what they want?
  • Are we being realistic as to our expectations from each other?

Nobody wants to hire someone who can’t take constructive criticism. Really. Nobody. It’s important to remember that most people are offering their perspective in order to help get a better outcome. Good critics don’t want to ruin your day, they want to help you succeed. Take advice, mentoring and criticism with a positive attitude and use that information to make your next project truly great!

 

 

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“People see me as cute, but I’m so much more than that.” Ashley Tisdale

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about spell check and wanted a picture of a wether. I asked the Nigerian Dwarf Goat forum on Facebook for some pictures of their favorite wethers. The response was fabulous! I was offered so many adorable photos (and I have a soft spot for goats) I thought it would be cool to post them all as a separate post just for fun. 🙂

Akaya Lee

Akaya Lee’s “Dillinger”

Deanna England- Baca

Deanna England’s “Baca”

Brittiany Pitts

Photo Credit to Brittiany Pitts

Debbie Marie

Debbie Marie’s “Atticus”

Emilie Garcia

Emilie Garcia’s “Moose”

HollyBurkeThornton

Photo Credit to HollyBurkeThornton

Jessica Huffman

Jessica Huffman’s “Minion”

Leah Norton

Photo Credit to Leah Norton

Meagen Hood Zimmerman

Photo Credit to Meagen Hood Zimmerman

Nicole Morris-Matus1

Nicole Morris-Matus’s “Prince”

Nicole Morris-Matus2

Nicole Morris-Matus’s “Prince”

Reyna Jensen

Photo Credit to Reyna Jensen

Sarah Lindgren-Akana

Photo Credit to Sarah Lindgren-Akana

Waggin Tales Farm

Waggin Tales Farm’s “Oliver” 

Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt 2

Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt’s “Remmy”

Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt

Photo Credit to Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt

Aren’t goats just the cutest things! Thanks again to everyone who posted pictures!

“With automatic spell checkers running unleashed over what we compose, our era is that of correctly spelled typos.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

So I’ve been noticing some of the more common writing errors becoming, well, more common, even in professional writing. It seems there is a heavier reliance on spell check than ever before. Sure, it’s handy to have a little backup plan for those times when you fat-finger too many S’s into “success”, but reliance on spell check for important material is dangerous. Sentence structure can sometimes die at the hands of spell check. The problem is, spell check doesn’t argue semantics with you. It doesn’t take the context of what you are trying to say into consideration. For example, take the following two sentences:

It depends on the weather whether we can bring home our wether.

It depends on the wether whether we can bring home are weather.

Both MS Word and WordPress gave me guff on the word wether, even though it actually is a word. Spell check did not catch “are” instead of “our” in the second sentence either. Granted, not everyone needs to determine when it would be best to bring home a castrated goat. Still, sentence structure is important in getting your point across. The first sentence makes sense to a reader, the second does not–even if you don’t know what a wether is!

These, by the way, are wethers.

Which brings me to another point. It seems like a lot of arguments could be avoided if people used punctuation and font to give their writing a tone or “voice”. Italics help so much with this!

“You’re being silly!” in answer to “When am I silly?”

You’re being silly! in answer to “Who’s being silly?”

“You’re being silly.” in answer to “What am I being?”

All three sentences say the same thing, but apply italics and punctuation and you have a much clearer meaning. You can hear the speaker in the first sentence stress the word “being” as you read it. Because of the use of the exclamation point, you can tell they’re a little worked up, possibly laughing. If you put a period on the end of the third sentence, it sounds more like the speaker is exasperated. I suppose there is such a thing as overuse of italics and such, but judicious use really helps clarify meaning and immerse readers in the story.

The bottom line is: there’s only so much spell check and dictation software can do. Having a competent proofreader gives you some assurance that your meaning doesn’t get “lost in translation”.

Have a grate weakened! 😉

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

Well, I’ve tried a lot of new things and, as a result, have made quite a few mistakes. Some mistakes have been large and embarrassing, such as the time (as a small child) I tried to jump over a low-hanging velvet rope separating me from the Easter Bunny at JC Penney. I tripped and pulled down the entire section amidst loud crashing, shouts of surprise, and not a little laughter from the onlookers. I hid and cried until someone found me (they were still laughing) and soothed my wounded pride. My mistake was not so much about stepping out of line, but more about stepping higher.

The problem most of us have with trying new things or pushing boundaries, is that we are worried about making some horrible, spectacular mistake. However, if we let the fear of making a mistake stop us from doing something outside our comfort zone, we stop growing and learning. Riding horses might be a fearful prospect, but the joy of galloping through a meadow with the sun shining down on you cannot be adequately described and, to those of us who have done it, it is well worth the possibility of falling off. Jumping out of a plane is not something that is very forgiving of mistakes, but the rush people feel while doing it overrides the fear.The biggest mistakes usually garner us more knowledge than the little errors and certainly provide fodder for our fears, but if we take the time to correct our mistakes and try again we may be rewarded with a newfound confidence.

Besides, spectacular mistakes make for great stories, although you may have to wait for the sting to go away before you can laugh at it.