When you’re a creative person — and most especially when that work is constantly available for the public to see — it’s only natural that you’d be more sensitive to people’s responses, especially if they aren’t good.
Our brains are wired to focus on negative inputs more than positive. It’s a survival mechanism of sorts, and it makes sense: we have to be aware of potential threats in our environment. But this carnal, instinctual impulse doesn’t always serve us when it comes to so-and-so who decided to go on a personal tirade in the comment section of one of our posts, or the client who was so dissatisfied with their service they left the most epic one-star review, or the buyer who wants to return everything.
See, as a creative, honest feedback is one of the most valuable things there is, because it doesn’t come by often. The truth is that there aren’t many people who are going to sincerely tell you how you’re doing, either because they don’t want to hurt your feelings, or because their perspective is totally skewed based on whether or not they really love or don’t love what you do.
If you are interested in ensuring that your business — and your art — keep growing, you’re going to have to learn to not only hear feedback, but also learn from it. That’s why it’s first important to be able to discern between what’s helpful, and what’s hurtful for the sake of it.
Criticism is the kind of negative feedback that tends to come from haters, people who want to be mean for the sake of it. This kind of feedback can either involve nit-picking some unimportant detail, playing the devil’s advocate unnecessarily, or even using personal insults to try to take your work down. This kind of feedback, if taken seriously, can really erode your self-esteem.
On the other hand, critique is the kind of feedback that, while honest, offers you something to learn and grow from. It comes from people who don’t want to hurt your feelings, but rather just let you know that you made an error, or that they weren’t totally satisfied with their service, or that there’s a way in which you can improve. It’s really important to have someone in your life who is going to be able to honestly critique you, because it’s the greatest way to grow.
How do you tell the difference?
Ultimately, it comes down to one thing: will taking this advice make your work better, or worse? Is the person suggesting that you should never create again, or that you should be aware of a grammar mistake you keep making, or a way in which you can better each your fans?
At the end of the day, what it’s all about is intent. People who have the intention of helping you will critique, because they know that’s what it takes to make you the best artist you possibly can be. People who have the intent to hurt your self-esteem will criticize, because at the end of the day, trying to take you down a notch really makes them feel better.