Be a coach, not a critic
The key to giving great feedback
Hey there —
When you’re considering a list of activities that could help you make new friends, you’re probably more likely to think “join a book club” or “go mini-golfing” before you’d consider “share notes on our deeply personal creative projects.” 😅
But exchanging feedback is a great way to find community. Creative relationships built around a mutual passion provide a safe space for constructive criticism, the opportunity for collaboration, and a support system to keep you moving toward your goals.
That being said, it can be super intimidating to give your professional opinion on someone else’s work.
You might worry that you don’t have enough experience to offer real guidance. Or worse — that you’ll wind up totally crushing their dreams.
Thankfully, you don’t have to have it all figured out (or be at the pinnacle of success) in order to provide a valuable perspective.
Whether it’s peer-to-peer or mentoring a less experienced creator, with care and intentionality you can become a great critique partner. The key: be a coach, not a critic.
That means equipping others with the tools to make strong content and avoid future mistakes (which is way more empowering than simply being told you messed up!).
Here are five tips to think like a coach:
↪️ Take the right approach. According to one study, novices are motivated by positive feedback that boosts their commitment (they want to feel like they can actually do the thing), while those with increased experience are more motivated by negative feedback (they’re already committed and want to measure their progress).
If you’re working with a newbie, affirm what they’re doing well first, then share a few areas where they can improve. But if you’re working with an experienced peer, they’ll likely be open to more challenging critique.
🔎 Get specific Instead of making vague comments like “this is boring,” dig deeper to identify the root of the problem. Stronger (and kinder!) feedback might be “I’m not feeling connected to the character in this chapter” or “I’m having a hard time understanding the message you’re trying to convey.”
🧰 Provide tools. Don’t just correct — give the why and how behind the fix. That might mean explaining a key concept (like the importance of showing vs. telling) or sharing your own tips and tricks (like how you remember the difference between “affect” and “effect”).
👐 Don’t take over. You may be brimming with ideas for creative direction, or how you would edit something, but at the end of the day, this isn’t your project. Instead of taking the wheel, offer guiding, yet open-ended suggestions. Like: “How can you up the stakes?” or “How could you show this in a more unique way?”
If you’re seeing a repeated issue, address it once with some suggested fixes. Then later, you can point out the recurrences, but allow them to flex their own creative muscles to find a solution.
⚖️ Balance praise and critique. While you should definitely avoid the bait and switch of the compliment sandwich, being specific about what needs improvement while also pointing out what was done well, what you loved, or what made you laugh can provide a good balance of encouragement and critique. Sometimes knowing what to keep can be just as helpful as knowing what to cut!
At its heart, feedback should be a give-and-take between two people, with a focus on growth and progress.
Remember that it’s a conversation, not a lecture, and you’ll be well on your way to a beautiful and supportive partnership. 🤝
How to make someone feel truly heard
by Jeremy Brown
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to have a friend or family member who was really good at listening, then you know how incredibly validating it is to feel understood. ☺️
But making someone feel seen and cared for goes beyond just being a good listener. It’s about being intentional, holding space for another person’s feelings, and reigning in your urge to judge or prove a point. And it takes practice!
Tap the link for six areas to focus on during your next conversation, so you can make sure whoever you’re talking to feels truly heard.
7 simple ways to be kinder to yourself
by Jenna Ryu
Have you ever thought about what kind of feedback you’re giving…yourself?
Despite what some people might think, being hard on yourself isn’t humbling or motivating — in fact, self-criticism is more likely to hold you back from positive change. On the flip side, having self-compassion will help you destress, feel happier, and stay positive (even when things aren’t going your way).
If you’re struggling with self-doubt, a loud inner critic, or beating yourself up over every mistake, here are seven expert-backed ways to start being kinder to yourself. 🥰
Clean your laptop the easy way
Be honest. How dirty is your computer right now?
Whether you’ve got a smudged screen, sticky keys, or crumbs in every crevice because a snack and an episode of Bluey was the only way to avert a toddler meltdown…this video has you covered.
Grab some dish soap + warm water, rubbing alcohol, a microfiber cloth, and some compressed air and hit play.
Meet Amrita! Over on her YouTube channel, Amrita shares how she’s discovered a more intentional life through her photography and gardening work. Whether you want to learn how to care for roses, photograph a flat lay, or embrace slower living, Amrita’s videos are an oasis of calm and creativity. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and hit play to learn something new…or simply take a deep breath among the flowers. 🌷🌼🌹
Introduce yourself! Who are you?
I am Amrita Bhortake, a family practice physician, photographer and more recently, a youtuber.
Why do you create? Who is your content for?
Six years ago, I took a sabbatical from a decade-long career in medicine and healthcare as I was on bed rest due to complications during my pregnancy. It was a lightbulb moment for me. Until then I had never thought to take any time off to heal and recuperate from my 80 hour work weeks, even if I needed time off for health issues. I had only planned a short break and didn’t realize that I needed to step away from the hustle and slow down until I actually did so. I was photographing in my spare time as a way to destress and was spending time with two of my favorite things: flowers and photography. I loved how I could take my time with the compositions and be intentional with the photos. I started creating photography tutorials focused on still life as I couldn’t find similar tutorials online and wanted to show people how to slow down and enjoy this art. I thought it might help someone else deal with their stress and anxiety just like I did. More importantly, I wanted to bring some calm moments and joy to someone’s stressful day through my gardening and photography videos.
The biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began creating content?
The biggest lesson I learned is to be patient and “done is better than perfect.” I am a perfectionist at heart and it was challenging for me in the beginning to let something go out into the world, so I kept tweaking it until it was perfect. That was a challenging endeavor as I always found things that I could improve upon. I learned over the past 2 and half years of creating videos that it’s ok to post a video even though it might not be perfect. I also find that sometimes I lose my creative spark for a certain idea and keep finding problems with it if I keep tinkering with it over a long period of time.
One thing you wish you knew before you started?
I love planning and trying to do as much research as I can before I jump into something. I wish I could tell myself before I started this journey that it was ok not to have all the answers and that it was ok to figure out things as I went along.
In one to two sentences, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring creators or self-development nerds?
Just start. Don’t get stuck in the preparation phase and endless amounts of research (and no, watching The Witcher doesn’t count as research 😉). No amount of research could help me gain the experience of actually doing the thing. The act of doing the thing will also help you get into your flow state where you can be more creative and develop even better ideas.
Would you rather have a personal stylist or a personal chef?
Definitely a personal chef. As much as I love baking, everyday cooking is not something I enjoy, especially when I am trying to feed and take care of my twin toddlers.
Written by Ashley Martin
Edited by Matt D'Avella