When ANYBODY gets feedback about ANYTHING that they care about, it’s personal. It’s just how the human brain is wired. Or maybe more precisely, the reptilian part of your human brain. Your amygdala, to be exact. That’s the part of the brain that deals with emotions, and that’s what’s triggered when we hear feedback, and what makes us get defensive.
Want to see how this works in other people?
Go read this . It’s a review of a high-end restaurant that recently opened in Washington, DC. You don’t have to read it in detail; you can skim it (unless you’re a foodie, of course, and then you might be more interested in the details of what the reviewer is saying).
Now, go here and read the first post. That second link is to an online chat where the food critic takes questions from anyone about stuff. We’ll go ahead and paste in what someone wrote about the restaurant review:
“One of my good friends is a line cook at Mirabelle. To cut a long story short he was pretty devastated last week when the review was published. From what I gather, the kitchen staff worship Frank and think he’s a genius. So they were understandably upset when the restaurant received less than 3 stars. I’m in a difficult situation. On the one hand he’s a good friend and I want to be supportive and side with him. On the other hand, I thought what you wrote was balanced, gave credit when credit was due, and was for the most part objective when it came to what you didn’t like. When I mention this to him he has had… lets just say animated responses. However, beneath the profanity he does make some counters: [details about the chef’s defenses removed for brevity]”
The food critic, Tom Seitsma, who we find to be very balanced in his reviews of these restaurants, and a genuine nice guy in how he interacts with the public on his chats, responded in part with this:
“[details about why the review was still accurate removed for brevity] Your chef pal probably does [not] want my advice, but the best thing to do in situations like this is to re-read the review — there’s lots that’s positive therein — and just keep striving to do the best work possible.”
That advice is spot-on and wonderful.
We invite you to read his review and see for yourself how it comes across. Do you see it as an attack? That’s how (apparently) the line chef did. Or do you see it as one person’s opinion — an obviously educated one, from someone who has a long history in that market and lots of experience with doing that type of review?
If you get feedback from the ‘Snark, we hope you’ll be able to see that in a similar light.
We may have to adopt the words of the food critic as the takeaway message we offer to all BSers:
When you get feedback saying your essays are not strong enough, then the best thing to do in situations like this is to re-read the review — there’s lots that’s positive therein — and just keep striving to do the best work possible.