Dealing with criticism in the industry that invented it
We can’t all be special snowflakes, and even the special snowflakes have had to deal with it. Yep, the much-dreaded word: CRITICISM (dun-dun-dunnn).
Whether it’s constructive, deconstructive, back-handed, under-handed, dressed in a pretty skirt, or downright nasty, it’s never fun to face criticism. Especially when it’s directed at something as personal as your own creative work.
Here you are, happily plodding along, feeling giddy about how far you’ve come, and how much your work has improved since you’ve pitched at university (or work) all starry-eyed and suddenly, WHAM! A swift kick to the head. Your first reaction might be to go and cry in the corner stall in the bathroom or to tell the criticiser where they can go and stick it.
Giving feedback is an art, and the superior raining on your parade, has not necessarily mastered this art yet. There’s nothing you can do about it, but what you can do is manage how you take criticism when it’s flung in your direction; do you duck, or do you embrace it? Since criticism in our profession is an unavoidable fact of life, you’ll need to get your head straight on how you’re going to take the punches.
Many self-help books, recruiters and business people have tried their hand at giving you the best zen advice out there on how to deal with criticism, but let’s be honest: in our field, zen doesn’t really fly. With all that creativity bubbling through your veins, there isn’t really a lot of space for managing your emotions.
So, here’s a realistic list of tips on how to deal with the criticism when it comes your creative way.
1. Get angry
Yes, a lot of people will say that it is not the way to deal with it, but heck, of course you’re angry, they just took a massive dump on your brain baby. So, be angry. Ride the rage wave and get it through your system, because if you suppress it, you’re going to have a lot of issues that therapy will have to deal with and none of us have the kind of dough to see a professional feelings person on a daily basis. Be angry and get over it. Then you can think rationally and clearly.
2. Break sh!t
If you’re still angry, then it’s time for desperate measures to get this out of your system. If you have chipped crockery, it’s time to have a Greek party. If you prefer punching the criticiser, rather get a punching bag and beat the crap out of it. Whichever way you prefer to get violent, do it. But keep it legal(ish)!
Whether you tell your cat, your aunt, or your pet fish, get the bile out of your system. But don’t do this at work, and don’t vent to your co-workers, because one emotional gossip session can ruin the team dynamics unnecessarily.
4. Do introspection
Now that you’ve had your temper tantrum and gotten rid of your initial emotional reaction, it’s time to look at the criticism objectively and debate with yourself whether the criticism holds any ground. You’ll need to be really honest with yourself: if your Art Director said your space ship looks like a chicken, take a long hard look at that space ship before you knock their chicken idea.
5. Use this to your advantage
Criticism can help you develop your skills, so, if you wrote sloppy copy, have a look at how you can de-sloppify it in the future. Go back to the person and ask them how they want you to change it, and work at it. This will only be to your advantage, because once you’ve implemented the change, you’ve just stepped up your game, my friend.
If this doesn’t work, there’s always tequila and food – they don’t judge, they just understand.
If you want to expose your brand to the good kind of criticism, find out what ETIKET can do for you.