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How to deal with criticism as a remote working creative

Every creative has been there. You’ve been given an abstract brief with minimal explanation from a busy client and you’ve spent a few hours deciphering it like the Da Vinci code.  

You’ve come up with some solutions you think answer the brief effectively, only to discover the client doesn’t agree. They dismiss them, and you’re back to drawing board.  

No one likes to be criticised – it’s part of human nature – but this is especially true for those who work in creative fields.  

And at the minute, we’re more sensitive than usual. While we’re isolated from workmates, we don’t have anyone to bounce off. Without their perspective, criticism festers in our minds and snowballs into something it isn’t. 

In situations like this, it’s important to take a deep breath and remember that we need feedback to get to the best end product possible. 

So, here are four ways to deal with it positively during lockdown: 

1) You are not your work 

It’s only natural that your first reaction to receiving any criticism is negative. After all, you’ve grown attached to your solutions – they’re your babies. 

But remember, when someone criticises your work, it isn’t a personal attack. Creative work is subjective and how we perceive it is shaped by our own individual experiences.  

REMOTE WORKING TIP 

Separate yourself from your work and receive any criticism objectively. Instead of poring over a 500-word email for two hours, forward it to a workmate and ask for their honest view. Then, pick up the phone to the client and discuss the amends in detail. 

2) Understand the criticism 

When receiving criticism, it’s important to have the right attitude from the outset and engage openly with whoever’s providing it 

Ensure that you ask the right questions to fully understand where the criticism is coming from. What mistakes have you made? What key bit of information might you have missed?  

REMOTE WORKING TIP 

Even if the criticism isn’t initially constructive, dig deeper. Organise a video call with a few stakeholders to get extra context, which will help to ensure that you hit the mark next time. 

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3) Have an opinion 

It’s important to remember that as a creative, you’re more than a tool operator bringing someone else’s vision to life. Have an opinion.  

You use specific techniques to execute tasks because you know they workWithout getting defensive, explain that and put your point of view across.  

Clients aren’t mind readers. They need to understand your personality and way of working as much as you do theirs 

REMOTE WORKING TIP 

Start a thread on your client’s Slack or Teams channel to instigate deeper conversations about projects. By doing so, you’ll get closer to the core requirements of your client.  You may even uncover something that was missed in the initial brief that can be used to develop new solutions.  

4) Learn from it 

“Wow, awesome work!” Words every creative loves to hear. But if that’s all we hear, we’ll never improve. 

It’s only natural that certain habits and ways of working will become ingrained over time if left unchecked.  

Being challenged is a great catalyst for pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, developing new skills, and delivering solutions beyond what you thought you were capable of.  

By seeing every bit of criticism as an opportunity to grow, you’ll start to welcome it. Maybe. 

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