As a hypersensitive person, it's difficult to receive constructive criticism even if it comes from the best of intentions. Here is a method I've found that's allowed me to receive critiques without getting my feelings hurt.
If you’re a hypersensitive person, I hope you have found this space on the internet dedicated to you! I myself am an HSP and I didn’t realize it until my twenties. Now that I’m in my early thirties I’m really learning how to embrace and thrive in my sensitivity.
Right now I am currently taking a short form media content class at a community college. I am getting my social media certificate and this class is a requirement. I thought the course was going to be about how to make social media content but it’s much more serious and focused on commercials, PSAs, storyboarding etc. It’s no joke! But with a previous degree in acting, it’s fascinating and I’m really grateful I’m in the course and experiencing it at this point and time in my life.
One thing about this course is that we share each of our projects. Now, this is a fully online course but every time we submit a media project, it then appears in a gallery that the rest of the class can view. Our teacher stated that in the film and tv industry, notes are widely given and that receiving them will help us as a media maker.
The mere thought of someone else looking at my work and judging it makes me tense up, break out in hives and want to hide under a blanket. I know that sounds dramatic, but as a hypertensive, I feel things deeply.
There’s also a psychotic level of perfectionism that comes up when I make my projects and it is absolutely a creativity killer. It’s a lot of mental gymnastics to work through when I feel like people who are less sensitive don’t give any of this a second thought and may not even care what other people think. (Goals!)
The critiques are given out via message board forums that the class has access too. We are instructed to pick a certain number of projects to name what we liked and what we didn’t like or what we thought didn’t work. When I realized this was part of the class I felt like I wanted to cry but I knew it was going to be so good for me.
With my acting background I came across similar issues. I hated singing in front of people or doing monologues because of the critique after but part of these feelings comes from this flawed mindset that is often paired with anxiety where we never give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and automatically assume we can't create something great. Or even better than great, because anxious people who are hypersensitive make up most of the artists in the world but I digress.
Getting back to the assignment, when I started reading my peer’s responses I felt my body feel like it was on fire. I felt so vulnerable and like an open nerve. My project was getting chosen a lot, and was receiving mostly positive critiques. But I saw some critiques to other people and other projects that I thought was a little harsh . Noted, most of the other people in the class are probably not as sensitive as I am.
It made me think about the best way to give a hypersensitive person constructive criticism. I’ve heard this called the sandwich method. It’s where you start with something positive, give the critique and end on a positive note. Ending on a positive note is so powerful and helps the HSP feel inspired and able to receive without getting defensive or feeling worthless.
An example, say in the realm of my class if I was critiquing someone’s project, this is what it would sound and look like using the Sandwich Method.
“Hey! I loved the way you used color in your shots! It really added to the atmosphere.
I felt as though some of the lighting in some of the scenes was inconsistent.
But I really enjoyed watching the project and thought it was so strong overall, great work!”
Simple as that. And it can apply to so many things and so many areas of your life. I feel as though it’s a very diplomatic and thoughtful technique to add to the toolkit. So if you have close relationships to people who are not HSPS, you can always have a conversation with them and say that your feelings get hurt easily and can you please critique me in this way. I’ve been in relationships with many critical people, and to them this is actually a way that they show love. They wouldn’t criticize if they didn’t love me and want me to get better and be the best I can be and a lot of people feel this way.
Neither one of these mindsets is wrong. It’s just about being self-aware and knowing what works best for you.