You may think it is absurd to say that criticism could be good for you. After all, it hurts, right? Especially when the criticism is targeted directly at your personality or habits, it can be very hurtful indeed. But it can be good for you if you take it the right way – and here’s why.
It helps highlight flaws
Sometimes, it can be hard to swallow that someone has seen a flaw in you or in what you do. That’s understandable, but taking a step back to think about it as impartially as possible may show you that there is a problem to be addressed. It may not even be in the area that was criticised – for example, if someone complained that your presentation of a character was unconvincing, you might discover that you should have included more background information to provide better representation. Then you would understand that the problem was with your choice of words rather than your own personal style of writing, which is much easier to change. Other times, it will be that the flaw highlighted is a genuine one you should try to change.
It strengthens you
Criticism doesn’t just flag the weakest points, but can also strengthen the whole. By dealing with criticism in a positive way, you can make improvements in areas that were not even addressed. You can also strengthen yourself by taking criticism on board. It will give you the power to stand up for your work and defend it, knowing with confidence that you have made the right choices and that you have addressed previous criticism fully. This will make you stronger for occasions such as when you need to present yourself or your work to a potential publisher or your readers.
It helps you learn your market
If your readers or editors are giving you negative feedback, take a moment to understand what their complaint is and where it comes from. You might learn something about your audience that could give you an advantage. For example, let’s say you have a number of people complaining that you took too long to deliver your piece of writing or a whole book. Now you understand that fast delivery is a high priority for your audience. Your next step would be to speed up your process, or to inform your editors and publishers about the possibility of missing a deadline. You can also make sure to add information about “delivery” times upfront. This will help you to become a more reliable, trustworthy writer.
It makes you think objectively
When you have to take criticism on board, this often means having to look at things in a more objective light. That means thinking about your work, style, or even yourself in an objective way. This is a real gift, as it is difficult to see these issues properly until you take a step back. It means you can tighten things up, improve them in all areas, and see yourself through the eyes of someone else to understand where they are coming from. When you do this, you make it less likely that you will face criticism in the future, as you have already addressed most of the possible issues. If you ignore the criticism and choose not to look at things in a new light, you risk getting the same criticism over and over again.
All in all, when you take it in the right way, criticism can only be good for you. Ignoring, dwelling on, or reacting negatively to criticism will only cause negative effects of your own making. Use it constructively, and "you could do better" translates into you actually doing things better.