This Little Miggy Stayed Home: Inviting Criticism

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Inviting Criticism

Yesterday I asked for an opinion on the gallery wall, both on the blog and on instagram.  Ask and ye shall receive!  A lot (OK most) of you were not fans of the look.  Some of you liked it, but with a small caveat (different tape color, bigger pictures, etc) (which for the record, I always planned on adding 1-2 more pics in larger sizes) and a few of you folks actually liked it the way it is.  (Also to clarify, I do too.)

As much as most of you didn't like it, it didn't really sway the fact that I do.  And for now, I'm going to keep the washi tape pictures.  One reader asked a great question, I know nobody's opinion will sway you or influence you, so what was the point of asking if you were going to take into account anyone's opinion?  She clarified that she wasn't saying this in a mean way, she was just curious.

Good question.

Here's the answer:  I asked because B wanted a second opinion.  I told him I didn't really need one, but since I was doing a post on the wall and sconces, I would ask the internets their opinion.  I did it for B.  He gets the satisfaction of winning the online poll, I get the satisfaction of keeping the look I want.  That's a marital win/win.  (Plus I don't think he really cares that much) 

But as I checked my IG and the comments off and on throughout the day I was starting to feel a little defensive.  Hence the reason I posted this pic my friend texted me featuring washi tape with frames on a formal looking wall.  I was OK with people having a differing opinion, but I was also trying to show that I wasn't completely off my rocker, and looking for a little validation.  Even then most people came back with reasons why it was OK on this wall, but still didn't like the look on mine.  And it's true... they are two different looks, but the overall idea was there.  I think this works because it's all black and white, I think this works because it's mostly washi tape with just a few frames.

Admittedly I was surprised that more people didn't like the look.  I've had some crazy decorating ideas that were frankly awful, but to me this isn't one of them.

At some point I had to step back and remind myself, You asked for their honest opinion.  You invited this criticism.

Then I realized that if I walked into any of your homes there would probably be something I would change--whether this thought was conscious or not.  Be a paint color, a piece of furniture, an arrangement of some sort there would be something not matching my taste or style.  Even my artsy friends with great taste or favorite design bloggers do things that I don't like the look of from time to time.  Style and taste are really so personal.  After I thought about it like that, I stopped sweating it.  

In college there was a group of 4 os us that were pretty close.  Sometimes one of us would do something annoying or maybe rude and the other 3 of us knew this persons particular quirk or annoying trait immediately.  Like, Ugh, Friend A did this and this know how she does that thing?  OMG I love her to death, but I hate it when she does that! I know that would happen with my other 3 friends and I know that occasionally I was the annoying/rude friend who was the subject of this venting as well.  And really we weren't back-biting frenemines, we just knew that from time to time we all did things that one or more of us didn't like, appreciate or approve of.  Anyway we were talking about how we all know these traits about each other and occasionally talk about each others annoying habits.  However, what we agreed upon was that while each of us were aware of the other three peoples annoying traits and habits were, none of us wanted to know what our own personal annoying trait or habit was.  We were happy to be kept in the dark and avoid that sort of criticism.  I'm sure there are SO many reasons for this, but one seems to be that hearing such open criticism from our closest friends would hurt not just our own egos, but possibly the friendship as a whole.  None of us were or are perfect and likely hearing about our weaknesses wouldn't bring about positive change, only awkwardness and resentment.

So yesterday I invited criticism--albeit on a very small, not personal scale--and was surprised that I still felt defensive.  Again just a little bit, I was by no means truly upset or offended.  I think one reason I was so resistant to the criticism yesterday was because I wasn't actually open to change.  I like my gallery wall just the way it is thankyouverymuch.  I've asked opinions on the blog before, so this wasn't a first, but other times I think I was actually open to the answers and therefore there not defensive.  This stuff is so interesting to me!  So I'm curious, have you ever invited criticism into your life?  Were there positive results or did you immediately regret asking?  Has anyone else ever asked for your 'honest opinion' only have it backfire?  What about positive experiences?  Also, I think it's different asking for opinions from a vast group of people most of whom I don't actually know in person.  Thoughts?

Thankfully no one said anything negative about my beloved brass sconces... then I might have really gone ape.



  1. I love how self-aware you are. Thanks for this awesome example. I can be pretty open to feedback, when I'm ready for it. It's hard when it comes out of the blue or at a particularly vulnerable time. I've actually had some negative experiences around asking for criticism (not mean words, but a critical review of myself, the good and the bad) and not getting it. It's frustrating to want to improve yourself or a relationship and not have others you are close to be willing to participate in that kind of exchange with you. When I think about when honest criticism has bothered me, it's often because for whatever issue was being pointed it, it was from someone on the opposite end of the spectrum who failed to mention some of the pros of the trait I possessed. Instead of just being told that you're "inflexible" by someone very flexible, it's nice to have a more nuanced conversation about how my (yes, I would be the inflexible one in this example) interest in structure and routine is positive and helpful much of the time, but discuss times when it makes more sense to be more flexible and to consider ways to help achieve that flexibility.

  2. LOL, i LOVE how you call it a marital Win/Win...aren't those so much fun, when you can agree to disagree, but you both feel like you've won...i'm glad you love your wall, because...for reals...what do we know anyhow! {i say while grinning sill-ily} and for the current question...i've asked the question...and i'm always upset at the answer...i have this habit of living in my own don't ask often ;) i just do my best every day to be the person i want to be...when i screw up...well, there's always tomorrow to try again.

  3. when i ask for opinions or feedback, i usually pay less attention to the specifics of what people say and more attention to my own reaction to it. that tells me exactly what i need to know. this tends to be especially true when it comes to clothing.

    i have a friend who frequently asks me for my honest opinion and i rarely give it to her straight. i tried that a couple times and it didn't go so well. over the years i've realized that the role she needs me to play as her friend is as her completely supportive friend, and i'm okay with that. unless it's something that i really firmly believe in or she is endangering herself, i tend to tell her what i know she wants to hear and occasionally throw a little bit of genuine advice in (very gently). i don't think that's necessarily bad, you just have to feel out the specific situation and your relationship with the person.

  4. I am careful giving true opinions so feelings aren't hurt. In this case, if I hadn't liked it , I would not have commented. I was surprised at some of the comments. I have noticed on Hometalk people tell it like they see it, regardless of hurting someone's feelings.
    Our house is on the market right now. I really get defensive with negative comments.
    I am older than probably most of your readers, so my age probably sees things differently.

  5. Anonymous9:18 PM

    I am sensitive and my mom is great, and she once told me: ''you always make your children eat at the table and for that I respect you''. I will never, ever try to find her honest opinion!

  6. HeidiAnn11:44 AM

    I think it's harder online criticism is even harder because you can't see facial expression or hear tone of voice. I've tried to teach the kids when they ask for someone's opinion, you have to be prepared to hear what you don't like, but yesterday, when so many were anti-Washi, I felt a little defensive for you! We don't have the same style, but I appreciate your style very much. I didn't want you to have those words in your head when looking at your wall. I want you to be able to enjoy your creation without that. Anyway, your house is looking great! Glad you're enjoying Cincy :)

  7. HeidiAnn11:45 AM

    My grammar ain't so great this early, lol

  8. Anonymous1:22 PM

    I have had someone to say repeatedly that they WANTED to know if other people saw a red flag in a relationship issue with a SO. However, when I DID see a red flag and politely (and I thought, tactfully) let her know, she got defensive. Duly noted. Lesson learned.
    My hubs also often "wants" my honest opinion/feelings. He will repeatedly nag me for what I really think and when I finally give in and tell him, he either gets extremely mad or extremely offended. I really, really hate that.

  9. Anonymous5:13 PM

    It may not ring as true today, but I liked your gallery wall immediately. All that planning and plain paper testing was a lot of work and it paid off.

  10. I love your sconces :) When asked for opinion or advice, I think most people like to give it freely. What I love about you is that you take risks, you're bold, and you are not afraid to try something different. All of those traits can make you a magnet for critisicm. But they also make you a trend setter, inspiring, and super fly :)