I used to be afraid of critiques, even though they are always constructive and helpful. But I have learnt to stop being so cowardly and I welcome them now, taking on board the useful responses and suggestions they provide.
My English teacher for A Level taught us Practical Criticism and one of the things I remember her saying is that the word 'criticism' doesn't just mean pointing out negatives. It means a fair and comprehensive assessment, highlighting all that you have done well, along with those areas which could be improved.
I think I have found it hard to face critiques in the past because of the 'if only' feeling.
'If only I'd worked on that story a bit longer/a bit harder/spotted the less successful moments which, now they've been pointed out, appear obvious.'
But now, after feeling a little annoyed with myself and vowing to try harder in future, I nod sagely at the advice given and return to work on the story with a new sense of purpose.
I really like being asked to do a re-write for a magazine. In fact, I absolutely love those.
First of all, this marvellous feedback is free.
Secondly, the 'if only' problem is averted. This is a chance to actually work on the snags and iron them all out, allowing the possibility (though not, of course, the guarantee) that this story could still be accepted.
My mistakes and weaknesses within that story are aired for me, but without the door to a sale already being closed. That is perfect for someone like me, who can take criticism well enough, provided it is given while I'm still able to seize it and make full use of it.
Having said that, it is still helpful to be given the reason why a story has not succeeded and a rewrite is not being offered. Then I can sink my teeth into it all over again and make lots of changes, usually tearing things out and trimming off the gristle. After all, lots of stories find a home after three or four attempts. Maybe the initial rejection fires a spark that relights and relaunches it.
Being long-or short-listed also helps. It shows that the story, while not placed in the top three or whatever, is still worthy of further work and more outings.
So I feel I can take criticism quite well, as long as it is well-intentioned and can be put to good use. If it saves a story from being set aside or turns a mediocre attempt into a worthwhile read, then I am very happy to listen to advice.
The only time I can't take negative remarks is when people make them directly to me, unsolicited, after a story has been published!
Maybe I'm much too sensitive, but I always work on the basis that if I can't say something positive to the delighted author whose work has successfully reached the printed page, then it's best to say nothing.