Throwing Your Ego Under the Bus (Part 2)

Laurel BlackOr “The Worth of Our Work & the Worth of Our Selves:  Don’t Confuse Them”

As creative professionals, we live and die by the quality of our work. We spend hours learning new ways to improve our efforts, and even more hours polishing them. So after having put so much of ourselves on the line, it is no surprise that we are hypersensitive to negative feedback.

But creating work for public consumption means we also live and die by how it’s received by its audience. So like it or not, feedback is vital to our effectiveness. Without it, we’re working in a vacuum and our work has no relevance.

In order to get the highest use from the feedback that comes our way, it is important to understand the difference between ourselves and our work. Too often, input like “That design is bad” is immediately and unconsciously translated into “You’re bad.”

It’s hard not to personalize creative work because so much of what we put into it IS personal. But we have to make a conscious distinction between self and work, or we will never be able to objectively determine the worth of the input we get and how to use it to move forward.

I often have to tell clients that in order to do a good job for them, they have to be clear and blunt about what is and isn’t working for them, and not worry about ”hurting my feelings.” I love praise as much as anyone, but to get the job done, I need useful information first. Praise can happen when the work is complete and everybody’s doing group hugs. As the work proceeds, I need uncensored feedback from them.

So their responsibility is to give me clear feedback. My responsibility is to hear it with calm objectivity. They are not criticizing me; they are telling me what I need to know so I can do good work. That will only happen if I bear in mind the difference between my worth and my work’s worth.

Your thoughts and/or experience?

BTW: Dyana Valentine did video post (a vlog) called, “Do you confuse your identity with your creative ideas?”…see that here.

2 thoughts on “Throwing Your Ego Under the Bus (Part 2)

  1. Cecilia Gorman

    As a creative recruiter, I have a fine line between telling people my true feelings about their portfolio and not crushing their spirit. Yes, it’s my job to give them constructive criticism, but I can tell you this is often easier said than done. Just as hard, I imagine, as is hearing it with calm objectivity.

    1. Laurel Black

      Hi Cecilia – I can imagine that the feedback aspect is one of the hardest parts of your job. In delivering honest critiques, you are giving your people a real gift: the ability to get better. True professionals will understand and appreciate your efforts.

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