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Week 29.

Dealing with Invisible Criticism

A Donut by Timothy on 26 July

Do you hear criticism when there is none? I don’t know if this is a common thing experienced by everyone or if it is a particular personality trait in a select few. Look, I know how some people are going to think – that I am conceited and think everything I do is impeccable and how dare anyone suggest otherwise. Sorry to disappoint, haters, no diva antics here. So what can you do if your initial response to questions or suggestions is, ‘you think this is shit, don’t you? Just say it!’

Remember the path to success is a LOOOONG one

On one hand, we are aware that creative process is far more complicated than getting from point A to point B. Remind yourself as you go that you might get to point C on your own – but people might ask you to bypass D, do a drive through E or even a pit stop at F.  Inexperience makes us think that we are present only the FINAL project. Think about those instantaneous check offs as great – but not the norm.

Accompany presentation with a lot of QUESTIONS

Until you get your head around the idea of the creative process, you can consciously remind yourself by asking questions. Think less, ‘this is it’ and more, ‘I’m going to show you some ideas, tell me what you like and what you’d like to experiment with’. You might fall into the trap of remaining silent when presenting your ideas – which leaves a client too make assumptions about what they ‘think’ you’re trying to achieve and leaves tense gaps of silence, perfect conditions for heightening those negative emotions.

Remind yourself that if you were happy with it BEFORE…

There is a difference between abandoning your ideas and forgetting your expertise – remember, they hired you for a reason and there is a reason you are now in a qualified position to call yourself a designer. However, I don’t think there are many people who can revisit a project and say that the initial design was the strongest. Just think, it is possible to find something both you AND the client like. Your role is to appease them, first and foremost – you just need to find a solution that you can be proud of at the same time.

All in all

Some people might think people like me are soft. They might think that the fact that we need to go through these mental reminders is proof that we aren’t cut out to design if we can’t “take” criticism. People are entitled to their own opinions but this is not how I choose to look at it. Firstly, if you take strive to produce good work, you’re going to have high stakes in everything you do. The pressure you put on yourself come from a place of pride. Secondly, we are all human. Sometimes we look at people for the roles they play and not the person they are. Sometimes we are fragile and sometimes we are strong – don’t let moments of uncertainty or weakness dictate your value of self.

This week's donut?

Talk out your ideas and carefully reflect on your interactions with clients. Don't interpret idea sharing as criticism.

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