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I want to know if you have any tips on handling criticism? I hate how sensitive I am! Even when I know I shouldn’t take things personally, I can’t help but take negative feedback to heart. Some people seem to be so resilient and I have no idea how they just brush things off.
I really want to toughen up but don’t know how.
After each OKREAL event, I send out an anonymous survey. And I hate it.
Most of the comments are great. In terms of feedback, we have a (roughly) 5 percent negative response rate per event. If I was a robot, I would calculate the fact that 95 percent of people have a good time and pop bottles. But I’m a soft, squishy, emotional human.
Within this 5 percent is constructive criticism, which I appreciate, because it helps us grow. Like: ‘We couldn’t hear the audience questions during Q&A—could you repeat them next time or pass a mic around?’ Sorry guys! Totally. But there’s always one. There’s always one person who thought I did a terrible job, was super disappointed, or has an intelligent suggestion like ‘try say more than just blah’ (true story). Some of these people are having a bad day / life, and some are otherwise nice people who aren’t into it, and are entitled to their opinion. Logically, I understand that I can’t please everyone, and I don’t expect everyone to like me. Logically.
Instead, I think:
• You’re a fraud and everyone knows it.
• Everyone thinks you’re ridiculous, I hope you feel embarrassed.
• You’re not good enough and you never will be.
• You look fat, ugly and tired which doesn’t help.
• Why are you making such a big deal out of the tiniest comment? What an amateur!
• If you can’t handle this, how are you ever going to handle the business as it grows?
• You can’t hack it and you’re not capable. You’re not cut out for this.
I love this quote by Justin Williams (or perhaps his dad said it): “Don’t focus on the one guy who hates you. You don’t go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog shit.” But I sit down next to the dog shit. Notice how one person’s opinion turns into ‘everyone’. Notice how savage and dramatic this scene gets. I blame this reaction on feeling vulnerable after talking in front of a crowd, and from being overtired from producing the event. I use these excuses to make myself seem like less of a squishy, emotional human. But who am I kidding. I’m not as tough as I’d like to be either, Alex. But this is what I know.
Reckon with your ego. Or get somebody else to.
After a recent event, there was one person who really didn’t enjoy themselves. Didn’t like the interview, the content or structure, the food, the people, the atmosphere. But their last comment was that they felt alone, because nobody talked to them. Which made all of their other comments make sense. Of course they hated everything if they felt isolated. So, do I deem this person a sad sack or should I take note? Were they having a bad day or could I have done something to make them feel included? There were over 100 people at that event. I did my best. But now I know that some people find it harder to adapt to a new community, and I want to look out for those people.
You’re never going to be able to think of everything, and you’ll never grow if you only receive praise. Surrender yourself to being a flawed human, reluctantly take note of the things you can do better, then text someone who will listen to you rant and overanalyze the situation. Questions you can ask yourself which are very hard to answer honestly in the moment: Is this something I could improve on? And: Am I taking this to heart when I know it’s not true? Spend some time feeling feelings and overthinking, then let it go. Don’t hang on so tightly to your mistakes.
Energy is a currency: spend it wisely.
Think of your energy like money. Are you going to spend all of your money on something that makes you feel like shit? Or are you going to spend it on something that makes you feel full, grateful, happy, loved, safe?
The more I value my energy, the less I waste it on stupid things. Like being offended because someone thought my questions sucked, or that someone hates donuts, or that we are killing the planet because we used plastic cups. As Sunny Bates says: “It’s important to understand that you cannot live and die by what people say about you. It will kill you.“
Give yourself an asshole quota.
Imagine this as an actual, physical space. Either in a room far away from you, or in some type of bucket. Whatever works. Then along comes a hater, a nasty Instagram comment, a hateful email—now imagine chucking them in the asshole bucket. No need to expect them to show up every time, but in case they do, you know where to put them. I don’t know why but this makes me feel a bit better.
You are not responsible for everyone, and they are not responsible for you.
I repeat this to myself over and over in a small voice hoping that if I say it enough I’ll believe it. Then I think, it’s very arrogant to assume that I’m responsible for everyone. So I talk myself out of this partially in fear of sounding like a narcissist. But seriously, don’t mix up serving people with saving people. You’re not anyone’s savior. This goes both ways: other people are not responsible for your happiness or growth. You have gotten to where you are without that mean person. You do not need their approval to move forward.
My coach said to me the other day: What people say is a reflection of themselves and their reality, not of you or yours.
We create our own worlds. Let your haters throw tantrums in the dark little bubbles they have trapped themselves in, while you float around in your sphere of light and donuts. You are responsible for yourself and for your intentions. That is all. What other people do in their bubbles is none of your business.
Great people with great lives are too busy working hard and being happy to write mean things on their computers.
Do you know what makes a person great? Compassion. Anyone who has pushed themselves to do something decent with their lives knows what it’s like to feel vulnerable. To fail. To do it anyway. They know that having guts means having humility. Compassionate people have been there before. Or, they have enough respect and kindness to recognize that you are just a person trying their best.
You can’t be compassionate to others if you’re not compassionate to yourself. Be a great person and give yourself a break.
And an asshole bucket.
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