How to Take Criticism Effectively

As creatives, we are all subject to criticism in the work that we do. Sometimes that criticism happens on a regular basis in a format that is welcomed, and other times it’s given to us when we weren’t really seeking it out. Regardless of the how or the why, one thing is certain: We will have to navigate what it looks like to be criticized at some point in our work. So, how do we take that criticism effectively?

Try not to take it personally

I put this first because I think it’s the most crucial point as we deal with criticism. We can’t take criticisms as a personal attack. There might be instances where that’s the case, but I would guess that almost every time we receive criticism for our work, it has nothing to do with us. As a creative person, it’s so difficult to separate ourselves from our work, but when it comes to feedback, it’s essential that we try. We cannot attach our value or our worth to the work that we do. — Otherwise, when the criticism inevitably comes, it will ruin us.

Think about the why behind the words

We need to take good notes about the feedback that’s being given. We need to work hard to incorporate that feedback into our revisions. But we also need to give some thought to the “why” behind the words that we receive. Where is this person coming from? What is their context? This kind of thinking will help us understand a little better what we are being asked to do and why we are being asked to do it.

Use it to get better

As difficult as it may be to hear criticism, we can use it to make us better at our craft. We may not like to hear it, and we might not even agree with it, but if we look hard enough there is always a piece of the criticism that we can use to improve. When we get feedback from an outside source, we need to do better at using that to inform our future work.

Remember that ultimately it’s not about us

If we are in a position to receive criticism from someone above us, that means we are a part of a team. And in being a part of a team, we are reminded often that there’s a greater good. Any kind of criticism that comes our way needs to be viewed in that light. Because at the end of the day, it can’t be about us and our work and our opinions or us being right. It has to be about the team, and the greater good. Always approach criticism with this in mind. There’s more to the story. It’s not about us. It can’t be about us. 

David Clark lives in Bloomington, Indiana where he works as a Copywriter at James & Matthew, an advertising agency. He is passionate about creativity, social media, running and Chipotle.