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How to Deal with Constructive Criticism Like a Pro

Posted by Rebecca Loring on

How to deal with constructive criticism at work

Constructive criticism is no stranger to anyone who works in a creative field. That doesn’t mean that it can’t get your blood boiling from time to time. Unfortunately, constructive criticism is absolutely necessary for any project that is going to be interacted with by anyone other than yourself—which will be every project. 

So how do you keep your ego from getting bruised and face someone who is going to shatter your brilliant ideas in a flash?! First put down any sharp objects within reach and take a deep breath. It's time to put on your game face and deal with creative criticism like a pro!

Everyone likes you, nobody hates you, and you don’t have to go eat worms. 
It’s not personal! Constructive criticism is not an attack on you or your work. In a collaborative environment, people are going to have different perspectives. It’s important to take those perspectives into consideration and learn from them. Your work will only grow from understanding where your partners are coming from. Once you understand how to approach your piece of the project puzzle with different perspectives as your foundation, it becomes much easier to sell your ideas when you know you’re right. 

There is no need to bring out the big guns.
Don’t get defensive because there is no need to defend yourself. Stay calm and tell the emotional bit of your brain to settle down. Remember, the information is coming from a constructive place—not destructive one.

But what if the person is a big ol’ meany?
Some people do not know how to give their feedback in a graceful manner. First, try to recognize if this person is naturally just short and to the point. If so, try to remove your emotions from the equation, keep the meeting short and sweet, and take away the pieces you can use and learn from. If it’s too uncomfortable in-person, request that they communicate their thoughts via email instead. If the feedback is abusive or destructive in nature, you’ll want it in writing anyway.

It must be Groundhog’s Day.
Feel like you are in a criticism loop and hearing the same feedback from project to project? If so, it’s time to embrace some change. Evaluate what you are doing from concept to delivery. Even if you methodology and approach are sound, maybe your trouble lies in how it’s being presented.

I can see clearly now, the rain has gone.
Need a little clarity? Wait until the critiquer is done saying their piece and ask clarifying questions. This is especially important when you don’t agree with the feedback you’ve been given. Sometimes a rebuttal in the form of a question goes much further than a statement. Questions force the other person to think about their response in a different manner. If you are crafty enough (which I believe you are), you can even phrase the question so your solution is the answer.

Turn that frown upside down!
As hard as it may be to see at times, you can usually glean some type of positivity out of any situation. If you look at constructive criticism objectively, the benefits come in the form of growth and insight. Respond to constructive criticism in a professional and positive manner, and you’ll receive honesty and trust in return.

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