Feedback is an important part of the creative process, and receiving “negative” notes from a client or co-worker can be discouraging. But just because the feedback feels bad doesn’t mean that you’re bad at what you do. As you navigate the workplace, it’s inevitable that you’ll receive feedback, so here are a few ways to help take it less personally.
Swap your shoes
When you receive negative comments or change requests on your creative work, take the emotional element out of it by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Instead of asking yourself “Why don’t they like it?” try asking yourself a different question, like “If my coworker or friend received these notes, what advice would I give them?” This shifts the focus from you to the work itself. Problem-solving mode is engaged and you’ll be able to take an objective look at the work rather than letting your confidence take a hit.
Plan a pause
When we are critiqued, it can threaten our ego or identity – it’s human nature to take it personally and have an immediate emotional response. Prepare yourself for creative feedback by building time into your process to pause and absorb the information. A walk outside or a trip to the kitchen for a cup of tea can give you the time you need to calm your mind and assess the notes more objectively.
Look at the bigger picture
Before you let negative comments impact your self-worth, try to avoid looking in the rearview mirror and instead focus on the road ahead. Consider the opportunity you now have to practice your skills and make your work better, rather than dwelling on mistakes. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? How can I use this feedback to improve and grow?”
Criticism is a double-edged sword. While feedback allows us to grow and understand when expectations aren’t met, it’s hard to stay creative and motivated when every critique eats away at your confidence. Hopefully these tips can ease the post-review panic and help you find the positive in the negative.
Working with a team “gone virtual” can sometimes feel like you never leave work. When working from home, people have access to their “office” 24/7 which makes it tempting to send late night emails or feel obligated to respond to one. While this may seem convenient, the lack of separation between work and home hours can have some serious long-term effects on productivity. To avoid burnout, it’s important to step back and find ways to keep your team energized and productive.
When your whole team is together on-site, desk drive-bys and set “office hours” make it easy to be aware of what others are working on and when people are available. At home, availability is seen as more “flexible,” which can make it feel like you always need to be ready to jump in. To avoid blurring the line between work and play, set boundaries for yourself and expectations for your team. Weekly meetings and recurring check-ins can help your team gain a better perspective on the group as a whole. When people have a better understanding of what everyone else is doing, communication is more efficient, reducing the need for frantic midnight emails and round-the-clock availability.
recharge with rest
Without the commute to bookend the workday, or the lure of leaving the office for lunch, it’s easy to forget to take a break while bulldozing through your to-do list. When you’re working in an office, there are natural breaks built into the day — stopping by a coworkers desk for a chat or spending a few minutes at the “water cooler” catching up — while at home it can feel like you’re drowning in an uninterrupted stream of work. Keep your head above water by consciously building breaks into your day. Taking just ten minutes in between video calls to stretch can make all the difference.
shift your focus
Though we’ve all been learning and adjusting over the past year and a half, many still feel they are living and working in an uncertain environment. Under conditions like these, setting large outcome goals can be daunting and leave people feeling overwhelmed…which can lead to…you guessed it — burn out! It’s easy for a team to be discouraged when unforeseen problems wreak havoc on schedules and cause projects to pivot. Instead, try setting smaller weekly or monthly goals for your team as checkpoints throughout a project. These more bite size, cumulative accomplishments can help keep your team motivated and feeling successful, while still leading you to reaching your ultimate goals.
The structure of the workplace is continuing to change at a rapid pace, and looking forward, we predict many of these changes will remain in place. Some companies have given up office spaces entirely while others are implementing practices to get their team back to their communal workspace. Here at MK3, we’ve adopted a bit of a hybrid model, with the majority of our team working remotely while a few choose to come into the office. Regardless of where you feel most productive, we need to continue to adapt and work together, even while we’re often apart.