Criticism. Such a small word, with such a huge impact. The same piece of ‘criticism’ can either make you or break you. Whether you are a terrible singer on the X Factor or an inexperienced employee (like myself in the tale I will proceed to tell you), your reaction to criticism is vital, but often governed hastily by embarrassment or anger. It is incredibly difficult to recognise that the criticism- that stings sharper than a scathing scorpion- may actually be valid, which makes it a tricky task to ever learn from mistakes.
What do I mean by this? I shall give an example…
As you may know, I recently started a job at a cinema. On my previous shift, I had begun till training and felt delighted! ‘Finally! The managers recognise that I am super eager to learn new stuff!!’ I thought to myself as I speedily grasped the basics of using the till. I even managed to persuade some customers to upgrade to large popcorns. Go me!! I was ecstatic and consequently expectant to be using the till again on my next shift. Apparently so did the managers, as when I arrived on my next shift, I had been allocated my own till for a full five hours! But it soon became apparent that I was a struggling due to being bombarded with people’s cinema vouchers (which I was clueless as to how to process), leaving me baffled like a buffoon. Stuffed like a pepper. Broken like a beer bottle. Every time I was faced with a damned voucher, I peered around anxiously to try and find a more experienced staff member to give me a hand. 1 and 1/2 hours passed before the manager decided that I ‘didn’t have enough experience’ and should close my till once I had finished serving the current customer.
Bam. That was it. I felt defeated. After my enthusiasm and excitement about being allowed on the till, it felt like an immense knock. Would I ever be good enough? I returned to my old job of cleaning up the popcorn AKA square 1. No, in fact, I was a rhombus or a ‘squashed square’. Feelings of dejection quickly became embarrassment and embarrassment quickly transformed into anger. Why wasn’t I taught properly? How unfair of the managers to put me on till when they surely KNEW I had little experience! Ugh!!
But whilst I was scraping the splattered popcorn and wiping Nacho cheese off seats, I realised that I must react POSITIVELY to criticism. Use it to build my determination. Show my desire to learn properly. If I have any spare time whilst on shift, shadow one of my colleagues on the till. Maybe it was a bit ambitious of me to believe I would be good enough on till after minimal training. And I really shouldn’t transform this rejection into blame on someone else for ‘not teaching me properly’. It’s okay to accept that I’m not okay yet at working the till, but, with time and practice, know I can improve.
Criticism is not personal. I will endeavour to repeat that phrase on a regular basis until it is engrained in my subconscious mind. Every piece of criticism is synonymous to a gentle breeze carefully blowing fragile foliage along the river, ensuring that it does not become entangled in the looming nettles. (Or if you feel the previous simile is a tad far-fetched, imagine criticism as a brick in a staircase to success; the more you have the higher you can climb.)
Thank you criticism, as I will soon be the employee of the year, with a PhD in dealing with bamboozling vouchers and making the perfect Tango Ice Blast. You truly are a friend in disguise.