Criticism and creativity

Criticism and creativity

One of the hardest parts of the creative process is opening yourself up to criticism.

If you’ve been working hard on a project it can feel like a personal attack. This is all to do with the emotional energy that you’ve invested. Creativity is a form of individual expression after all. 

However, the judgement of people you trust and respect is a critical part of the process. This is because it is hard for us to see out our own shortcomings.

If you want your project to be the best it possibly can be then you need to invite criticism.

The trick is learning how to best receive feedback on your ideas as well as being conscious of the optimum way of giving it. 

Below are some guiding thoughts to help:

5 top tips for receiving feedback

1. Try not to take anything personally

Separate your emotions from any criticism of your ideas. Have a ‘growth’ mindset and see the situation as an opportunity to improve. Be open to what you hear and try and view everything as objectively.  

2. Ask questions

Feedback should be a conversation, not a lecture. Don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarification. Summarise the feedback and ask the giver if you’ve understood them correctly? 

3. Evaluate your response 

Take time to evaluate the feedback and consider specific actions for improvements. Resist the temptation to make any impulsive changes before you’ve considered the wider context. 

4. Show appreciation

Make it clear to the other person that you value their opinion. People will only feel comfortable giving you feedback if you are approachable and don’t rebuff them. 

5. Seek a broad set of opinions 

Check with others to determine the reliability of the feedback you have received. Does it match up or is the giver viewing things too narrowly? 

5 top tips for giving feedback

1. Be specific

Saying you like or dislike something or that something “just doesn’t feel right” isn’t helpful without context. Avoid unnecessary ambiguity. 

2. Be honest

Don’t try and sugar coat your message if there’s something important to share. In the end, it will only hurt the receiver more if you keep it from them. Honesty doesn’t necessarily equate with rudeness. 

3. Address the issue not the person

Don’t make it personal. Watch the language that you use so that it avoids coming across as a criticism of the individual's character as opposed to the idea itself. 

4. Consolidate feedback

Don’t provide it in dribs and drabs. Be selective about whose input you ask for. Only incorporate feedback from the relevant stakeholders. 

5. Don’t forget to mention what you like

It’s highly unlikely that everything about the idea is terrible. Giving feedback is as much about confirming what’s working as well as what’s not. 

Are there any other tips you’d recommend? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Creativity is a vital skill for any company. The ability to solve problems and spot new opportunities is what separates those that survive and prosper from those that fail.

If you’re interested in how creativity can transform your business then pre-register for our upcoming course ‘Creativity for Business’ for more info.

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