Where should you draw the line on criticism?

You require a really fine balance when it comes to paying attention to criticism when you are on the receiving end.

If you ignore criticism completely, you may be missing some good feedback.

If you take every criticism at face value, you may be tempted to act on erroneous feedback.

More often than not, people get affected by criticism more than they will admit. They will re-run the criticisms over and over again creating opportunity costs that are totally un-necessary.

Here is an old (made up) story to make a point.

John opened a new store to sell fresh vegetables. He put up a signage that read as “Fresh Vegetables Sold Here”

Next day, his friend Bob made a quick remark to John – “John, you should change the signage. Everyone knows that you sell ‘fresh’ vegetables here. Why do you have to specifically talk about freshness on a signage. It is superfluous”

That made sense to John. He quickly changed the board to “Vegetables Sold Here.”

On the same day, his another friend Kim came by. She didn’t like the new signage. She said, “Why do you have to say sold here? Of course, everyone knows that you have something to sell here. You won’t put a signage here to sell something at home, do you?”

That made sense too. John changed the signage to “Vegetables Sold”

The saga didn’t end there. Roger came by and his objection was to the term “Sold.” He didn’t like that word there – “John, what is wrong with you? Rarely do people open a store to buy things. Everyone knows that vegetables are there to be sold. You don’t have to say it explicitly.”

John thought for a moment and realized that Roger had a point. He changed the signage to “Vegetables”

That evening Mike came by. He looked at the signage and said, “John, look at your store. The entire store has only vegetables. Do you think people are idiots to confuse your store to a toy store?”

John was now confused but what Mike said made sense. He erased the word Vegetables from the signage. So that left an empty signage on the store.

Michelle came by late in the evening. She looked at the empty signage and remarked, “John, don’t be lazy. It’s been a week since you opened the store and you have an empty signage? Come on…”

I rest my case.