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How to Handle Criticism Like a Pro

Criticism can be a constructive tool that can save you a lot of heartache. 

"If we all liked the same thing, the world would be a really boring place!"

Serena Williams

Just think of the Idols’ Wooden Mic contestants – how much time and energy could they have saved if someone told them early on that singing wasn’t a skill they should invest in?

Even successful people have had a few bad encounters and thanks to constructive criticism, they’re better able to master their craft. Comedian Donovan Goliath credits his closest family and friends for keeping him real and grounded.

“I’ve had a lot of terrible ideas that I’ve suggested to people and they’ve said: ‘No, you’ve gone completely off the path here.’ They've reminded me of what my style and voice should be and what I need to stick to,” he says.

Although Goliath has trusted support from family members and friends, he admits that criticism from the public still has the power to hurt and derail him. “For some strange reason, you can have 50 great comments and one negative one – and that single negative one can wipe out all the positive ones, just like that. But you just have to keep going: you can’t let it slow you down. Because it breaks your vision and you start wondering what can you do to make that one critical person happy, rather than what you’re doing right for the other 50,” he says. 

D Goliath
Donovan Goliath takes it back to the drawing board when an idea he has doesn't work. Credit: Instagram

“For some strange reason, you can have 50 great comments and one negative one – and that single negative one can wipe out all the positive ones, just like that."

Donovan Goliath

Many other celebrities have had the same experience as Goliath, but have developed thick skin. Music mogul Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal received a lot of negative publicity a month after launching. His response to critics was: “Our actions will speak louder than words. We made Tidal to bring people the best experiences and to help artists give that to their fans over and over again.”

Actress Christina Hendricks’ excess kilos were once slated by a fashion critic. "‘Sure, I'd be happier with 5kg off – wouldn’t every woman?’ But when I looked at pictures of myself, I thought I looked beautiful. I didn't tear myself apart,” she recalls.

Tennis champion Serena Williams has routinely had detractors ridiculing her muscular body. She remains philosophical in her response. “For every negative comment, there are a million good ones,” she says. “Not everyone’s going to like the way I look. Everyone has different ideals. If we all liked the same thing, the world would be a really boring place! What matters most is that I like myself.”