This Ted Talk by South African 12-Year-Old Learner Will Change How You Deal With Criticism

Updated on 16 November 2018

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Many entrepreneurs have been vocal about criticism being part of their journeys and how they deal with it. Siv Ngesi, entrepreneur and comedian, for example, said the worst business decision he’s ever made was trying to impress everyone else. “I was so busy being cool that I lost my authenticity. When that happens, you misplace what makes you unique and different.”

Ayanda Bokaba’s (12) powerful talk on the subject is taking her to New York in the United States this week. She is to take part in a TED-Ed weekend to deliver her talk on criticism and how it affects people’s confidence. TED-Ed is an annual gathering of students from around the world, according to News24.

dealing criticism Ayanda Bokaba
Ayanda Bokaba, a 12-year-old, believes that sometimes criticism could be turned into something positive. (Image: Think Ahead, YouTube)

Bokaba’s entry was submitted to TED by the organisation Think Ahead, which works with schools offering support in 21st-century teaching and learning. According to Wikipedia, TED Conferences LLC (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organisation that posts talks online for free distribution under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”.

During her talk, the Grade 6 Carlswald Preparatory School pupil from Midrand said “people should feel comfortable in their own skin and not take criticism negatively.”

Dealing with the criticism habit

Bokaba starts off by explaining how she views criticism. “Criticism is just an indicated way of getting feedback. Sometimes you’re criticising people without even realising it …”

She goes on to say that getting feedback is important.

“There are two types of criticism. There’s the constructive criticism, the one that doesn’t effect people, but helps them.

“The second criticism is the projected criticism, which is an emotional or negative reaction to something someone has said or done. Basically it’s criticism that hurts people,” she explained.

“What if someone hurts you? Just know they’re trying to give you feedback and not intentionally trying to hurt you.”

She reminded her audience to “treat people how you want to be treated,” adding: “It is not just that. It is about being confident enough to stick up for yourself when someone does criticises you.”

Being confident to overpower criticism

She also spoke about how to become more confident. Bokaba said these three steps should be followed:

#1 – Believe

“You have to believe. Otherwise, you won’t be motivated enough to continue your journey.”

#2 – Do this for you

“Know you are doing this for you. You can dress how you want, you can talk how you like and you can be your own person.”

#3 – Give yourself pep talks

“Remember to smile and constantly give yourself pep-talks.”

Bokaba added: “I want you to remember the famous saying of Coco Chanel ‘In order to be irreplaceable, I must first be different.’ So the crazy and weird part of you [don’t] have to change because someone says so. The crazy and weird part of you can stay, because that’s what makes you special.”


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