Accepting criticism is important. Everyone’s wrong about something, and it’s important to be open to the possibility that you’re wrong about things. If you’re never persuaded by something someone says that you need to change your actions in some way, something is going seriously wrong.
But sometimes, when people say that you’re not open to criticism, what they really mean is that they’re angry because you don’t agree with them. Or that you’re refusing to change in a way that you want them to change. And sometimes, you will be entirely correct to disagree with them and to refuse to change.
- “You’re a terrible writer and should not ever write anything ever again” is not criticism you should listen to
- “If you’d just try a gluten free organic diet, you’d be cured” is not worthwhile criticism
- “No one is ableist, you’re just imagining it because you want to feel special” is not worthwhile criticism
And there’s any number of other examples, many of which are far more complex and subjective. Everyone gets criticized in ways that it’s completely ok to reject.
And sometimes, it’s ok not to want criticism, even if there’s nothing inherently wrong with the criticism, eg:
- It’s ok to make art without wanting to go through an art school style critique
- It’s ok to write a story, post it somewhere, and decide not to read the comments about it
- It’s ok not to want to discuss the problematic aspects of a show you like
- It’s ok to not want your father’s input on who you should date
It’s possible to be insufficiently open to criticism, but that doesn’t mean everyone who accuses you of that is right. No one is, or should be, open to all forms of criticism from all people.
Sometimes people who criticize you are wrong. Sometimes they’re so wrong that they’re not worth listening to. Particularly when they’re saying the same thing over and over that you’ve long since considered and rejected.
It’s important to be open to criticism some of the time from some people. It’s also important to be selective about who and what you listen to, and when. You do not owe everyone who thinks that you are wrong your unconditional attention.