Constructive Criticism: Stop Taking It So Seriously

February 28, 2022

Constructive Criticism: Stop Taking It So Seriously

The advertising world can be a harsh place! We strive for perfection on the daily from creating the perfect promotions and events for our clients, to the promotional materials and plans that get them there.

But as we all know, no event is perfect, no promotion is perfect, and no plan is perfect. So how do we improve?

Enter: constructive criticism.

It may seem scary or like something to avoid, but constructive criticism is necessary for growth. If your goal is to achieve perfection, you will never get there without feedback. So here are a few tips to help you strap on your bullet proof vest and take constructive criticism like a champ:

#1 Don’t worry, it’s not about you!

When you receive feedback in the workplace, you have to learn to think of it in terms of your role as opposed to who you are as a person.

For example, when I was a graphic designer, I would get feedback all the time about things that I would create and more times than not, the end result was different than the first thing that I sent off.

My job as a graphic designer was to create something that works for the client and their audience. As soon as I was able to think of my work as a service or a small part of something bigger, I was able to care about my projects in a way that serves my clients best, not myself.

#2 Think of it as a collaboration.

One of the best parts about advertising is how much teamwork goes into it. When you present an idea, plan or design, think of the feedback as a collaboration. You put your idea out there and now the team is going to help you refine it and make it the best it can be.

#3 Listen now. React later.

Look, it’s only natural to have an emotional reaction to constructive criticism. If you find yourself in that position, listen carefully, take notes, say thank you and give yourself time to process. Come back to the feedback in an hour and see if you can look at it with a more level head.

#4 Constructive criticism is a learning opportunity.

Learning how to take constructive criticism will put you on the fast track to success in your career. If you can take every opportunity to learn and grow from feedback, you will notice a difference in your performance and others will too. The saying goes that if you are always comfortable, you aren’t pushing yourself. Welcome the criticism and you will be better for it in the long run!

Make sure you can give constructive criticism just as well as you receive it!

Most people don’t like to ‘make waves’ or ‘be confrontational’ but constructive criticism should be neither of those things if you approach it correctly. Here are my top 3 tips that I utilize when giving constructive feedback:

#1 Use “I” statements, not “you” statements.

This helps to disarm the person you are speaking to and makes the conversation more collaborative instead of authoritative.

#2 Ask questions if you have them.

If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask the person why they did it the way they did before making a comment. They might share something that surprises you and helps you learn along the way too!

#3 Offer a solution.

Constructive criticism is constructive for a reason: you are solving a problem. Make sure that your feedback is clear and helps move the project forward.

The Bottom Line: Constructive criticism is part of everyday life. Instead of fearing it, embrace it and improve every chance you have.