How to Easily Accept Any Feedback
We as people can sometimes find it difficult to read negative feedback about the work or project we poured our time and soul into, especially when we could have spent that time with friends or family or on other activities. I think almost all creatives having a hard time accepting feedback from clients or customers.
That's why we need to learn how to accept it and hold onto our emotions. Some people find it really hard to control their emotional state, but anyone can do it.
You just need a little bit of practice.
Take on projects and ask for feedback more. This is the only honest kind of activity that will teach you to handle it. Of course, you can read a bunch of books, articles and watch YouTube videos on how to handle bad critique, but this will not push you to the next level. You just need to act as much as possible.
The more you work with clients, the more feedback you get. With practices like this, you'll learn in the fastest way possible.
Let critique into your creative life, and after some time, you'll notice that you don't really care emotionally about it. You just receive and implement it as part of your workflow.
You can be more productive with this as well. If you can accept critique less emotionally, you won't spend as much time thinking about it but instead can just sort and filter the feedback, use what is valuable, and learn how to improve.
As you do your job better, you'll get more feedback and enhance your performance in turn. All creative work is an iterative process. Each iteration involves getting feedback and making necessary updates to improve your work.
The Apple App store is a good example. You can find millions of apps there, many of which are made by people like us. Apple made it possible to leave reviews for each app. A lot of good apps that I use on a daily basis request a feedback about my experience using it. Was it positive or negative, and what can be improved? People can leave feedback about their experiences along with the app's design, usability, and their overall impression. All of this information contributes to changes in the way we build apps.
What About Positive Feedback?
You can find a value in positive critique as well. At the very beginning, you might have more negative than positive feedback. After some time, it will be approximately equal, and if you keep making improvements, then eventually the positive feedback will dominate. This is a special measure of your success and overall progress.
If you get better and better feedback each time you do work, it's a direct indicator that you've become more qualified, more
experienced, more professional, and are growing as a freelancer.
However, if the trend goes in the opposite direction, then you need to change something. You need to work hard and think carefully about what you're doing in your work to overcome this wall of feedback that you didn't expect.
How To Ask For Feedback
Let's say you're doing a creative work, and one of the parts of your workflow is to get feedback from your clients. Sometimes it can be difficult to get a really useful feedback. So you can take it to work and do the next iteration of the project.
That's not because the client wants to confuse you or he's afraid to be negative with you. In most of the cases, clients don't know how to give feedback on the work you've done for them.
The second problem is that they don't always know what kind of feedback will help you because they don't know all the specifics of your work. In the most of the cases, a client is trying to guess what you need to proceed and he learns from your reaction and trying to be more specific next time. So don't judge it so harshly. It's not that the client wants to punch in the face your inner artist, it's just a lack of experience of giving a feedback in general.
It can be like this: "I like it!", "Oh, it's good.", or "I don't know why, but I just don't like it".
Not very helpful, right?
Receiving feedback is the most valuable part of a creative process. The way to succeed in this is to be responsible for the feedback you're receiving. You need to learn to manage this process. It's a part of the work. Especially creative work and moreover if you work remotely and don't have meetings face to face where you can learn much from emotions, expressions, body language, etc.
First of all, don't stress out. More on this in the next section of this article, but if shortly you need to control your emotions at this stage of work.
Create a comfortable atmosphere for both you and your client. Be positive, discuss ideas and opportunities.
Tell clients exactly what kind of feedback you're requesting from him. Ask if they have questions or if they need help to gather feedback from you.
Try to be specific. It's better to get a feedback piece by piece than in general if your project is huge. The concentration of certain parts is a key here.
Discuss random things that can be related. Like for example similar projects, competitors, ideas, innovation to understand the way your client thinks and what values he has. So you can better understand the context of almost every feedback will be given to you in the future. We're all humans, and it's ok to have at least slightly different approach to each client.
Tell them the type of feedback you're expecting to receive. When someone asks me to review or critique anything, I usually ask about the kind of feedback that's expected. Is it about a general feeling or the structure and details? Or maybe it's about the way people will be using or consuming it? Or you just want to have my personal preference?
Don't overwhelm clients with the amount of feedback you request. Position yourself as an expert. Meaning, ask what you really don't know about their business, industry, and customers. Don't ask about the actual tasks you need to do for them. This is overwhelming. Since you literally ask them to work for you and manage your tasks.
Limit their options to focus the attention and figure out the direction of their thoughts. It's hard to choose from 12 different ideas or samples, but much easier to choose from 2. Simply suggest 2 solutions to compare them and decide what is better and why.
Ask what they don't like to know what to avoid or just to understand the direction of thoughts.
The last, but not least is to give people time to think about the feedback they need to give you.
You can present your solution on day one, highlight the points that are questionable and what questions you have. However, don't expect that your client has answers to every question you have right away. They might need time to discuss the solution and analyze certain parts of their business. Otherwise, under pressure, you can be provided with fast answers that don't mean anything and can be misleading with what it actually is.
Personal Opinions Are Personal
Creative areas like design are highly subjective. As people, we tend to take an opinion about the work we've done personally.
After 8 years in the design area, I still have this bad feeling when someone says that he or she doesn't like the way I designed something. Despite my experience and design skills I have I still accept it as personal, but that's just for a couple of first minutes until I start figuring out the real issue of the statement "I don't like". As a UX Designer, I clearly understand that hearing "I don't like" from my client means nothing unless he will be using the product himself. Most of the time it's all about customers of the product. So it doesn't make sense to take critique like this as personal.
In my experience, I had many cases when I converted "I don't like" to "That makes sense? or clear understanding of the real issue that can be easily fixed.
One more good point on it is that design or any other creative service isn't about self-expression - it's about solving problems and making something easier to understand and use.
Don't Let It Get Emotional
Emotions and ego make things complicated for clients. Sometimes you forget about it and have certain consequences after a meeting with the client.
I know that if you are a creative person, you can't shut down your emotions on 100% and even if you do that then it will kill an artist inside you that helps with all the creative part of the work.
There is a solution. Don't rush to make a decision, instead explore every possibility. Take time to think about the issue, discuss it with the client, think together about possible solutions of how it can be resolved.
It's hard to discuss every step of a creative process and explain what you'll do. Especially if you're an introvert, but this is something that you can train yourself to do. You definitely will see a positive outcome. Anyway, it worth to try it, to not ask yourself later "what if"?.
All feedback, even feedback that we don't agree with, is an opportunity to see our work from a different perspective.
If we decide not to make revisions based on a particular point of feedback, it's alright as long as we have a good reason for doing so.
You always can reject working with a client if you feel that it doesn't worth the money he pays you. So if you don't like it, take time and think about it and then make a decision to move forward. That's your business, and you decide what to do.
You can read more applicable stuff like this in the book:
Any feedback is useful and remember that you always can learn from it. Each time conflict arises, you are taught valuable lessons about how to weather the next storm. Otherwise ignore it.