Have you seen the movie “Chef” yet? It is a great movie. The premise is about a chef who has a breakdown after getting a bad restaurant review.
I’ve been thinking about that movie a lot today. Why? Because tomorrow, the New York Times is publishing a pretty nasty review of my restaurant. And trust me, I’m not being overly sensitive: it is a bad review. You can read it here, if you must.
So how does one handle such critics and critiques?
For whatever reason, Rand Richards Cooper pretty much hates our concept, our service, and our food. It would be easy to get defensive, to argue with him, point out some of his more absurd critiques (really, the wine glasses?) And it would be easy to take it personally too. When you pour your heart and soul — and 70+ hours a week — into something, it can be hard to seperate your own identity from the venture itself.
I know everyone deals with criticism. But it does seem that the two professions I have chosen — ministry and restaurants — lend themselves to greater critique. As a pastor, it came usually via private letters or emails. Sometimes through the gossip mill. But always just under the radar. In the restaurant business, it is much more public… Online reviews, newspapers, etc.
Do having been on the receiving end of a lot of sharp criticism and attack, here are some lessons I’ve learned in terms of handling it well:
1. You can’t take it personally.
An attack or sharp critique of your ministry, business or project is not an attack on you.
2. You need to take it seriously.
You need to be humble enough — and wise enough — to see the truth in critique and learn from it.
3. But don’t take it too seriously.
Here’s the thing, it is the opinion of one person, who I’ve never met, who doesn’t know me, who has his own hangups and issues. So take it for what it is, but don’t take it too seriously.
4. Grow from it!
Get stronger, work harder, become better. Use critiques as motivation to grow.
5. Be confident in your own skin.
I know there is some truth in the critique. While still only 8 months in, we don’t execute as consistently as we should, we still have some areas to work on, etc. But I also know that 90% of our guests love what we are doing. I know our food is really good — most,of the time. But that means we need to keep getting better. But it is also important to remember that our identity and worth is not in our achievements nor even our character, but based on whose we are. My identity and worth is grounded in my relationship with God.
No one likes critics, criticism and critiques. But it’s part of life and we need to learn to handle them well… And even grow from them.
What tips do you have for dealing with critiques?