[M.M.X.I.V. 267] Refractory period

I better define “refractory period.”  It is a term used in neuroscience, referring to a time in which a neuron cannot fire after firing.  Basically, it is the time for it to recharge after its voltage spikes.  (It reminds me of The Shortest Field Trip Ever in my psychology class at Southeast, when the toilet was compared to the neuron.  A strange analogy…)

However, this post is not about neuroscience, but rather about my response to criticism.

Depending on the situation, I may handle criticism well, poorly, or avoidantly (if that is a non-word, so what?).   One interesting aspect of the word “criticism” is that it is often seen in a negative light, with pointing out faults and put in a negative tone.  However, a better definition of criticism is to use critical thinking in discussing something, with evaluation and other higher-order thinking skills.

In some sense, whenever a blog post receives a NON-SPAM comment, it is receiving criticism.  This may be praise, evaluation that suggests improvement, or a general analysis of the post.  I feel that the most useful criticism is the type which suggests another question or makes me question something that I had written.

With criticism (excluding remarks which are wholly praising) and me, the key thing for me taking it well is the following adage which my Mom frequently perpetuated:

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Criticism can be constructive without being harsh, and I think that harsh criticism is often destructive.  Although I usually have to respond to verbal criticism immediately if it pertains to my behavior or something that I can change immediately, written criticism is a different story.

I don’t know whether it’s pride in my writing, a resistance to change, or nerves that the whole paper will be covered in red, but oftentimes if I submit a draft of a paper, unless the deadline after I get the comments back is within a short period of time, there is a varying refractory period in which I will not look at the criticized paper.  This happened frequently with the Teaching Certificate Program, as I was maybe nervous to see the comments.

It was also true with the feedback on my first scientific paper, although of the reviews, one was positive, one was mostly positive, and one was negative, but the editor thought that the reviewer was off the mark.

I have to respond to criticism better, but the key thing when using criticism: make it constructive by analyzing the argument, rather than the writer.


Today is the two-hundred and sixty-seventh day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes thirty-eight weeks and one day.

Today is the seventy-second day of the Character Building Trial.  That makes ten weeks and two days.


3 thoughts on “[M.M.X.I.V. 267] Refractory period

  1. Oh dear… I did enjoy your post, but I so misread the first line. I read ‘refectory period’ instead of “refractory period.” and had this mental image of loads of little neurons wandering into a canteen to refuel before the next firing 😀


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