I’ve talked about listening to the inner critic, but what about the outer one?
How do you listen to criticism?
This reminds me of that song from the Wizard of Oz – Lions and Tigers and Bears! Here’s the link if you need a refresher.
Something I would like to start straight off with is there is a difference with criticism and constructive criticism. The 1st is usually given without being asked and not necessarily from someone who knows anything really about the problem. The later is often what you get from a coach/teacher or anyone else you have asked for some ideas to deal with a problem.
To help with unsolicited advice, some key phrases that I’ve found which work well are: ‘you maybe right or thanks or I can hear my phone ringing, I’d better get that.’ Then try and find my 1st chance to walk away from the conversation.
I know when I 1st started out as a singer, I thought when I went to a coach, I was meant to try to do everything they suggested, it never crossed my mind to try to just look for the things I could do and maybe tackle some of the other things later or not at all. I was not encouraged to have my own opinion on what I was being taught, merely, copy and do.
It took me ages to realise that I was never going to be able to do what all those coaches were suggesting. While they all meant well, I needed to start to figure out what really was working for me and helpful and what wasn’t. This form of discernment has been a real skill in itself to learn, both as a teacher and as a student.
I know when I work with my students, both as singers or actors, I try to say at least once, if not several times, take what works for you and leave anything that doesn’t. All that matters is you figure out what is useful.
Sometimes, I’ve needed to hear the same thing over and over again before I really understand or can take it on, so it’s important to have a patient and understanding teacher. Sadly, there are a lot out there that aren’t. They think by saying something once, you can get it. I’m not saying this can’t happen, but this is not always the case, really depends on what is being asked and how.
Ever heard that saying: ‘Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.’
This can be hard at times, but this is what I would suggest you find in any mentor, teacher, coach, etc. I’ve always found an honest and challenging approach to my coaches is helpful, but it’s easier for me to hear when it’s said without any edge or a sense of nastiness in it.
My experience over the years as teacher and student has shown me time and time again, that it’s OK to be challenged in my work or to challenge people, but the more supportive and kind the approach the more likely the changes can happen and can happen more quickly.
What’s your experience been like for you as a student or teacher? Comments welcome below: