Getting feedback doesn’t have to suck
How to prepare for critique
Hey there —
Remember back when everything you created was the most amazing work of art since the Mona Lisa? 🖼️
Each of your kindergarten finger paintings was worthy of a prominent spot on the fridge, and every play or poetry reading you put on in your living room garnered enthusiastic applause.
But now that you’ve got a job, are pursuing a degree, or chasing your passions, you have to face that stomach-churning but essential part of the creative process…
Asking for real, honest feedback.
And while you know that feedback can help spur you toward success, if you’re being honest…you’re also afraid it could wind up totally crushing your dreams.
You might wish you could avoid critique altogether (and just go on pretending everything you make is solid gold from the first draft).
But whether it’s a work assignment or creative project, we all need feedback from other people to tease out new ideas, correct mistakes, and create our best work.
Thankfully, if you go into it with the right attitude, receiving feedback doesn’t have to be a soul-crushing experience.
Here are five tips to help ensure feedback is constructive and leaves you feeling motivated, not defeated.
🧠 #1: Know yourself. Do you tend to get defensive when faced with feedback? Or maybe your confidence goes from 100 to 0 when something you worked hard on still needs improvement. Being aware of how you respond to critique will help you tame knee-jerk reactions and identify internal insecurities you need to actively fight against.
🧐 #2: Be curious. Research has found that highly curious individuals who ask open-ended questions (like “What do you think?” or “Where could I go next with this?”) receive significantly more — and stronger — feedback than those who ask narrow questions (like “Do you like this font?”). While it’s good to note specific areas you’re working to improve, be open to broader suggestions too.
🌳 #3: Have a growth mindset. A growth mindset believes talent can be improved, whereas a fixed mindset believes you’re either good at something or you’re not. Instead of viewing feedback as a final verdict on your intelligence or abilities, see it as a way to improve your skills. As psychologist Carol Dweck says, those with a growth mindset achieve more “because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.”
🙋#4: Follow up. It’s easy to bristle if you receive vague feedback, or to feel like a hack if you don’t understand something. (Admit it, we’ve all pretended to be in on the group joke, only to desperately google it later.) When you hear, “This needs more oomph,” or “Using more keywords would improve your SERP hits,” instead of wondering what the hell does that mean? follow up and ask for more details.
🤗 #5: Don’t take it personally. Remember, this is a critique on your work — not you or your potential. Separating your self-worth from your work is an important boundary that will keep you in a healthy headspace (and help prevent the defensiveness that can block your potential growth).
It takes vulnerability to let people view your creative work, let alone to intentionally ask for their opinion on what’s working…and what’s not. The key to owning (and surviving) this process? Seek growth, not praise.
Approach feedback with humility and an open mind, and with each critique you’ll become a stronger creator — and the applause will naturally follow. 👏
10 powerful ways to stop taking things personally
by Nick Wignall
If you struggle with receiving feedback because you have a hard time with tip #5…you’re not alone. According to clinical psychologist Nick Wignall, taking things personally is one of the most common struggles people of all backgrounds and personalities face.
Thankfully, Wignall also believes that anyone can overcome this tendency by building better habits and taking a different approach when a situation gets under your skin.
In this article, he shares 10 ways you can stop taking things personally and eliminate all the stress, anxiety, and resentments that come along with it. 😮💨
Resources for seeking creative partnership
by Kaitlyn Rossi
Having someone critique your work might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you’re considering how to make new friends, but exchanging feedback is actually a great way to build community. 🤝
Creative relationships built around a mutual passion provide both a safe space for constructive criticism and a support system to keep you moving toward your goals. The right relationships can even turn into partnerships that result in some epic creative collaborations.
If you love the idea of building these kinds of connections, but aren’t sure where to start, check out these tips for finding and nurturing a creative partnership.
Pride month book recs
June is Pride month — and a great cue to support queer creators by listening to their stories. 🏳️🌈
Check out Libro.fm’s handy “Celebrate Pride” page for a list of fiction and non-fiction LGBTQIA+ titles for your TBR pile, plus a map of queer-owned bookstores you can visit locally (or online!).
“Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelled upon and stored.”
― Tim Fargo
Written by Ashley Martin
Edited by Matt D'Avella