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Monday Motivation: Receiving Feedback

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The first things I learned in critiquing was that it is not giving criticism. Again, this sounds like semantics. Only it is not. To critique is to provide feedback in a detailed and analytical way. In short, its feedback that’s objective. On the other hand, to criticize is show disapproval based on perception.

Part of learning how to critique is learning how to receive feedback. As much as giving a review should be objective, receiving feedback is learning to take what is said objectively. However, this is easier said than done. Sometimes receiving feedback is not very easy especially if it falls short of our expectations. We mostly receive feedback for the work we have done. Whether you work with spreadsheets or with design, at some point you received feedback about your work. It is only but expected that we get attached to the work we were done. It might just be work, but after spending so much time doing something, it becomes not just work. Dan Ariely calls this the Ikea effect – when work becomes a labor of love.

In college, I did not major in art or design. It is not a stretch to say that it was not anywhere near my comfort zone. My idea of design is knowing how to draw an imperfect circle. However, it the last few years I have taken classes in photography, graphic design and typography. What all these classes have in common is that critiquing is as important as creating. The classes I attended are usually ten weeks long and critiquing is introduced as early as the third week or so. Since the classes are for people who have no background in attending art or design school, we were given ample instructions on what critiquing is and what is not critiquing.

“Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.” – Ed Batista

So how do we mentally prepare when receiving feedback? What has helped me is to go into a meeting knowing that I would be hearing things that would probably not make me happy, but it should not make me angry either. Allowing myself not to respond right away when someone has provided their critique has been helpful. The short pause allows me to think and react in an objective manner. I have also learned to keep a mental list of my go-to response.