When I think of self-improvement, which I often do, I tend to think of things like eating right and exercising, giving more, and being disciplined.

I think I need to think more about collaborating better.

Today, I had an email from a guy tangentially connected with a client (the second such this month) which began with “I hope you’re having a nice morning” and continued to say that my blog posts are dull and to question my spelling (he objected to the word “burgle” for reasons best known to himself). He had in total seven numbered points, only one of which was about “the quality of the blog posts.”

Frankly, I was pissed off. Not appropriate, really. The proper response to any criticism is to consider how to learn from it, not to think, “You’re not the boss of me, you guy who can’t even spell ‘burgle’!” Continuing thoughts involving how I’m a college writing teacher with an advanced degree and my blog wins prizes, while he doesn’t understand the use of block quotes are really out of line.

I hope I responded courteously.

The thing is, my reaction — not to feedback from clients and colleagues, but to random people who want to help — is to think that they are causing me trouble, taking up my time, etc. Also that they are wrong… I have, I admit with shame, forwarded their poorly punctuated comments to other writers and invited them to share my scorn.

This is just not right. If the client doesn’t mind, I shouldn’t either. Indeed, I should welcome any feedback. It’s useful to have it.

Fortunately, I have the opportunity to practice being nice about this sort of thing. I have two random intefering people taking up extra time in my already overcrowded week — I mean, I have two helpful people offering me feedback. I plan to use that feedback to improve my writing and stop noticing their punctuation and spelling issues.

In order to help me be sweet as I do this, I have today’s song, “What Sweeter Music.” It was written by poet Robert Herrick, and set to music by John Rutter. Another lovely modern carol