Criticism: What to keep and what to throw away

By: Mandy Mitchell

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I sent my reel to a pretty high up person at a pretty high up place recently. I am often seeking feedback and advice and I am always trying to get as many tips as possible about my work and how I can improve. I assure you, this is the only way you will get better. Other people see things you simply won’t.

This time, I got the e-mail reply back and I laughed. I won’t explain what it said, but in my 13 years in this business I have never heard this particular criticism of my work. I didn’t want to completely dismiss it, so I asked a few people I trust what they thought. They all laughed.

Sometimes you will get feedback like that. It’s ok to reply “thank you so much for your time. I appreciate your feedback,” and not think another second about it.

In fact, it’s important to learn to do that and learn when to do that.

10 years ago, I would have let this e-mail destroy me. The advice, and this particular person’s issue with my work, would have become a complete obsession. Obsessing over this issue would have caused me to neglect other things. It would have caused a lack of confidence and a real problem with my ability to be natural on the set.

This business is so incredibly subjective that sometimes you have to simply let advice go. You have to be yourself and you have to work with the gifts you are given. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses and learn to work around them.

I knew a reporter at one of my old stations who was ALWAYS told he just “looked too young.” He was told no one would ever hire someone who “looked like that.” Well, he found a niche. He became an incredible writer and used his looks.

One person’s “too young” is another person’s “quirky.”

Criticism in this business is one of the hardest things to deal with. This is not the first time I have written about this. You can check out another post about the subject here.

The biggest advice I can give you, and please do feel free to throw this out, is to not get too worked up about anything anyone says. That goes for the good stuff and for the bad stuff.

You may be told you have a magnificent voice. That may make you feel really good and really confident. Problem is, someone else could think your voice is “a little too deep…and distracting.” You may be told how very pretty you are. You just have that “face for tv.” Another person could see you as “not credible.”

You will ALWAYS find someone who can find something wrong with every single aspect of what you are doing on air.

Be you. Learn what “you” really is and learn to politely throw out the advice that won’t truly help.

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