At one of my current occupations, I get to give kids money to go to college. It’s a pretty enjoyable time when I look at it like that. However, part of what I do is handle hundreds of phone calls and emails a week, call it customer service if you will.
Of course, those contacting me are doing so because of a problem they have, whether it’s from a lack of information, understanding, or what it sometimes feels like, they just want to blow up on someone.
This means I’m using a special kind emotional labor from day-to-day. I have to disassociate my personal feelings with every interaction while still keeping an open heart and willingness to help.
In other words, I continuously work on not taking anything personally.
To put it in more perspective, I seldom get a call to tell me I’ve done a good job or get an email just to tell me, “Thanks for all your work, we really appreciate it.” Occasionally I get a thank you letter from a student, maybe two a year on average.
I’m human, but even if I wasn’t, doing what I do without any pat on the back or thanks could still bring me to resent my work. Of course, it doesn’t. And for one simple reason.
Each day I remind myself that while I may receive 30 calls in one day, there are 90,000 students and 200,000 family members of students who don’t call, that things are going smoothly for, that have no problems. 30/290,000 is a pretty good ratio, wouldn’t you say?
Another current occupation (in which I am most artistic) is Writer. The majority of the time when I produce an article, when I get published, when I deliver, I get criticized. Similar to my work as a Grants Specialist, those who agree, who understand, who have been given the intended message, rarely leave feedback.
It’s not often people read to connect, but to learn and understand. I don’t see it, but there are hundreds (hopefully thousands?) of people nodding their heads in agreement and understanding while reading my work.
The few people who I hear from are those who disagree, who have a different opinion (that they would rather share in relation to my article rather than doing the hard work of writing one themselves), and yes, also those who just feel like trolling.
I once told a friend that if there was a point to complaining, they would call them com points, but they don’t. However, here is a point. (two actually)
We are criticized for two reasons. One, to broaden our minds, to self-evaluate, and to be aware of possible mistakes. In other words, to learn. Two (and most important), to be given a ratio. Not having a ratio doesn’t mean you’re doing everything right, it means you’re doing something seriously wrong.
Counting the number of critics you have is meant to remind you of all those who aren’t. I’ve never been one for math, but this is one ratio that makes it easy to cope with criticism.
Stay Positive & No Critics Usually Means No Art (and that’s on you, not them)
Garth E. Beyer