Critiques can be one of the hardest things to accept for creative types. Art is so personal. Who’s to say if something you do is wrong? Is there a wrong to the creative process? How dare someone critique my art!
Does this sound like you at times? Well, here’s why I think it’s healthy and wise to accept critiques, and offer them on occasion too.
A dear friend emailed me and very cautiously brought up something that bothered him on my blog. The delivery was humble and came right from the heart. I knew within an instant his intent was not to hurt but to help. He simply pointed out that my faux plants were doing nothing for my photo shoots. And then apologized in case he offended me.
I smiled and was THANKFUL. I had been thinking that for so long but just never bothered to take the plunge into real plants. I just didn’t desire the upkeep effort.
But then again I’m one that submits to magazines. Don’t they deserve he best? YES! And then there’s the year I went to a real Christmas tree because I wanted realism. Did I bonus that year? YES!
But kinda forgot about it. Until I went shopping at Country Gardens this week and ran into Ruth.
Ruth immediately recognized me from my blog and we stopped to chat for a moment. Then I spun the conversation into the wonderful world of real plants that need TLC for the long term. Gulp. She made some suggestions to which I completely ignored, and went for the high care variety. Wish me luck, Ruth!!
Going real plants is just a very small example of accepting a helpful critique. But it counts! Someone saw something I didn’t pay attention to. It was helpful and I think will earn me a few extra bonus points for pretty photo shoots.
How to deliver a critique
No need to be harsh. Your delivery is everything. Try offering it up as a suggestion which tends to have a softer punch. I call it the Canadian way.
“Fake plants in your photo shoots make your photos suck. You should get real ones.”
“I love your photo shoots when you incorporate plants, they look so great with your stuff! But may I suggest something? I’d love to see a real plant in your shots, I just really feel it may kick your shoots up to the next level because real looks… well, real!” (my words)
How to accept a critique
Be open minded and throw out the immediate notion to take it personally. It’s human nature but you’ll close a door before seeing the open window.
Read between the lines of a harsh critique and attempt to see the message hidden in there. There generally is one. Don’t reply right away if you are offended. Just take the time to see it for what it really is. Then respond back with a thank-you and why. And then be willing to try it out!
Helpful critique or slam?
If the critique slams you or calls you names, their approach is really REALLY bad and generally won’t be heard because we’ll be busy hitting delete instead. Sad because I think even in those, there’s a message to be heard. But do still try to decipher what the message is (after you’ve calmed down). There no doubt is one.
I actually laugh at these. The funniest critique or slam I’ve received to date was very simply, “Ouch. Splinter.” Helpful? I guess it told me he hated reclaimed wood projects and maybe I have enough.
Leave them up or take them down?
Honestly, I think if a critique is meant to be helpful, someone will take the time to email you with their thoughts. If they air it out in public for all to see, especially if delivered harshly, they may mean to harm rather than help. My personal policy is to remove any offending public remarks directed at me or someone I feature. (I leave up ones that are helpful and kind) But I still take in the message.
Also know, the more you risk and put unique stuff out there, the more zingers you will get. Luckily the ratio of good always ranks higher than bad, but the odds creep higher regardless. So just be prepared to accept it comes with the territory.
I also don’t suggest to blog or tweet or FB about it in public. Take it with a grain of salt, delete, then move on, knowing it was one in a million. Share with a friend in private if you must, then leave it be. Don’t give them the power they are seeking.
Critiques or advice, good and bad, help us grow. If you aren’t open to learning, you will never get beyond where you are right now. So next time you receive one, be gracious, thank them and either implement the advice or move on, your call.
Just be open minded enough to realize there’s more than one way to do something and maybe this way is even better than your own.
Choosing to be a target.
Something else to consider is what you just posted. Did the tone of your post offend? Did you offer strong opinions on a touchy subject? Those kinds of posts will indeed put you in the line of fire, so it pays to deliver a message that is somewhat neutral, inviting opinions rather than dishing out your own.
Thank-you Michael via Inpsired by Charm. I LOVE my new plants and am so grateful you spoke up! So, how did I do? Go on… I can handle it.
What’s your own take on this whole critique/advice thing?
Do you accept them graciously or get easily offended?
All 31 Days – Junk That Matters posts can be found on my blog HERE.
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