Taking Criticism

I saw this question on HN and decided to share it here for posteriority:

I’ve come to realize that I often take constructive criticisms personally. Everything from an unintentionally snarky comment in a PR I’ve made to someone highlight a mistake I’ve made that I probably couldn’t have known about.

And this answer:

What you have encountered is actually one of the necessary steps to really become “a senior developer”. And congratulations, you have already passed the biggest part of that hurdle: becoming aware of the issue.

There are things that are fragile, things that break when they encounter a shock. Such as porcelain, when transported. There are things that are non-fragile, things that do not break when they encounter a similar shock. Like a teddy bear, when transported. And there are things that are anti-fragile, things that improve when they are exposed to a shock, like the immune system. If you are not exposed to series of smaller shocks as a child, your immune system does not develop properly.

So you need to develop an anti-fragile attitude towards criticism, in order to become a better developer from the criticism. If you do not learn that, you will be stuck at the level you are at the moment. You can do this at the meta-level as well at the same time: become anti-fragile towards handling criticism in general, and becoming a better human being from it.

The key to hacking yourself is to increase your awareness of your emotional state. When you become aware that you are angry, the anger is losing the grip it has over you. When you are angry, you are sometimes doing things you would not have done if you were not angry. (Sometimes anger is healthy, it may also be a signal to us that our boundaries have been violated.)