When King Clancy started as a linesman, veteran Mickey Ion told him, “There are only two sane people in the house – you and I. All the rest are crazy. Just remember that and you won’t be nervous.” (Puckstruck, Stephen Smith)
When we internalize criticism, we let it affect our self-worth. There are times when you can feel like criticism is a personal attack and while sometimes the purpose of someone’s criticism is to hurt and lash out, constructive criticism can be helpful if we let it be. Consider the perspective of the person giving criticism, and resist the urge to be defensive. When we separate the criticism of a behaviour or something we have produced from our personal identity, it’s easier to avoid taking it personally. Instead of seeing it as an attack, see it as an opportunity to improve.
It’s ultimately your decision whether you will implement feedback, but it’s good practice to look at it objectively and decide if it could be helpful to you. Of course, you also have to consider the source of criticism. Referees are an easy example because they get booed every time they call a penalty or a ‘no goal’ on the home team, even if it’s clear that it was the right call. If refs took every piece of criticism personally, they would begin to doubt themselves pretty quickly. Don’t let criticism get to you, but also try to listen objectively and ask yourself if it could be beneficial for you.
Game Plan: Think like a ref. They are constantly being monitored and every call is reviewed. They get feedback from their superiors about why a certain call should have been made differently, and a weekly e-mail is sent to the officials highlighting good and bad calls and the reasons for that. The purpose is to help them get it right in the future and improve their calls, but the criticism is of their actions – not of their character or intentions. On the other hand, criticism from fans probably shouldn’t hold much weight. Taking criticism seriously but not personally is a skill that needs to be learned.