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It’s an experience that no creative wants to have. You’ve completed a project that you’re really proud of. You truly gave it your all—heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears. But when the feedback comes, it’s, shall we say, less than encouraging. Creative work is particularly open to negative feedback: it’s often highly subjective and open to interpretation. How creative work is received is less about whether or not it’s not “right” and more about how much it is “liked,” which can make it difficult to receive feedback since it feels more like a matter of opinion and taste. Unfortunately, in my experience, creatives are particularly sensitive to negative feedback, probably because creative work feels so personal. But because it comes with the territory, it’s important to be able to take that feedback without allowing it to ruin your self-confidence, momentum, or motivation. How do you handle that feedback without it wrecking your day (or week)? As someone who has been the recipient of more negative feedback than I’d care to admit, I’ve learned a few things that might help. Resist the urge to get defensive It’s important to learn to resist the natural urge to be defensive (don’t worry, we all have it). The fact is, there might be some kernels of truth in the feedback you received. It might actually prove to be extremely useful to you. But if you’re too busy hastily defending your work, you’re more likely to miss it. When receiving feedback, check your reaction. If you immediately want to get defensive, take a deep breath. Step back for a minute to process and consider the feedback. Your immediate reaction is likely a strong emotional one, but reacting based on those strong emotions is more likely to hurt than help in situations like this. The best thing you can do when receiving feedback is to listen, not defend. Keep things in perspective “The smallest change in perspective can transform a life. What tiny attitude adjustment might turn your world around?” Oprah Winfrey Along those same lines, that intensely emotional reaction can leave you feeling like the world is falling apart around you. That’s how feedback wrecks your day. Of course, if you’re able to keep that feedback in perspective, you can see it for what it is (critique of something in particular) instead of what it feels like (the end of the world). If you get feedback that feels devastating, pause for a minute. Observe the situation with an outsider’s perspective. What is really going on? What is the feedback really telling you? More likely than not, it’s about making a few tweaks and adjustments, rather than a sweeping critique of your entire career. If you’re able to keep the feedback in perspective, it’s less likely to ruin your mood. In fact, you’re more likely to be able to see some of the things in the feedback that are actually useful. Let go of perfectionism Many artists/creatives are perfectionists. They expect flawless work from themselves, and struggle to accept anything less. The problem is that if you’re a perfectionist, and your work is met with feedback claiming it to be less than perfect, you’re either going to: Wholeheartedly reject the feedback and the giver of the feedback, or Spiral into depression because your work is not perceived as objectively perfect Perfection is an illusion that has been fed to many of us from a young age. » Read More
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