I have to admit that I’ve never been very good at receiving criticism. Growing up it was laid on thick with no regard to how it would make me feel. As I got older, I didn’t know how to handle it. I took it very personally and when I felt it was coming, I’d put my guard up. The problem is, it was detrimental to me. Instead of being open to the feedback that could help me improve, I’d do the adult version of sticking my fingers in my ears and humming so I couldn’t hear or receive the message.
I’m now at a point in my life that I’ve learned how to receive it and I want to share how with you. The first thing I do is identify it. Is it constructive feedback or is it nasty criticism. For me, there is a difference. Constructive feedback comes from a place that someone is offering their point of view in a way that can help me improve in some way. It might not always feel good to hear but they raise a point that genuinely deserves my attention to address. Nasty criticism to me is when someone is trying to tear me down. Not only is what they share hurtful but there’s no intention of me growing from the feedback.
I automatically toss out nasty criticism because there’s nothing I can do with it. I can’t grow from it and I can’t fight it. It makes me feel bad for the person because I’ve learned it’s how they approach and treat the world in general. When it comes to constructive feedback, I qualify my sources. If it’s something I see an immediate benefit in, I’ll find ways to improve or implement the suggestion. If I’m not sure, I’ll qualify the source. Is the feedback coming from someone who cares about me? Someone on my team and has a vested interest in seeing me excel? Is it a friend or family member whose opinion I trust and value? Is it from someone who is in the same creative space as I am? Do they genuinely want to see me do better? Is it for someone who doesn’t care for me? Asking myself these questions helps me to get perspective and decide how to move forward.
Another thing I do is take time to process it. Sometimes it hurts whether it’s constructive or not. The best thing I can do is allow myself to feel that sting, tend to it, and figure out how to heal it. Once I’ve cleaned my wounds, the pain doesn’t run as deep and I can make a decision that isn’t based on my hurt feelings. As a creative especially, I can’t escape criticism. Putting myself out there means there will always be people that don’t like what I do. The good thing is, I don’t do things for people to like them, I share pieces of me that they can interpret for themselves. So sometimes it’s a matter of accepting that not everyone will like me or what I do, but being able to be true to who I am and move forward anyway.
When it comes to giving feedback, I personally like to be as thoughtful and gentle as possible while speaking my truth. At the end of the day, most of the feedback I offer is a matter of opinion, not technical facts. I always check my tone first and foremost. I make sure to share my feedback from a place of love. This helps me to choose my words wisely in hopes the person receives it in the same loving way I’m sharing it. I also love using the sandwich method in which I share something I liked, followed by what can be improved, and closing with something I love. This happens to be how I usually receive constructive feedback best.
Whether you have a hard time giving or receiving constructive feedback (or both), I hope you find this helpful. For all of my fellow creatives, I wanted to share one of my favorite no-nonsense videos that helped me put my plan into action when I first started working on receiving constructive criticism. I’ve marked the video to begin where it gets right to the point but the whole video is well worth the watch!
What are your thoughts on this? Can you relate? Did you watch the video? What did you think? What spoke to you most in this post and video? I’d love to hear, feel free to share in the comments! ❤