Aristotle once said that to avoid criticism, you must say nothing, do nothing and be nothing… and yet, people will still judge you no matter what. Still, there are times when you feel that you’re unreasonably criticized; your confidence level plunging down to zero and beyond. Freelancers in the creative field know well the sting of criticism – from those who don’t like their work to those who think you’re simply bad. In fact, it doesn’t really matter whatever your job is as you will always have to face the positive and negative aspects of life. To be criticized is an inevitability. Do you keep your defenses up or do you take it too subjectively?
Understanding the Concept Behind Criticism and How You Can Cope
Negative criticism is a hard pill to swallow and the toughest part is to handle the situation with dignity. There are those who will criticize your work to make you feel bad about your efforts and there are those who are simply making suggestions, out of frustration. It is important to learn how you can differentiate. Yes, even successful freelancers have their fair share of stings and it is crucial to draw the line between your work and you. Just because someone said that your writing is poor doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. You have to check for patterns here. Sometimes, a person can criticize someone too often, out of envy, and they will viciously make sure that you end up in trouble. The reasons are plenty.. and to make peace with your critics, once and for all, you have to remember these:
Think Before You Speak
You can deflect criticisms, minus becoming too defensive. Watch your words! At all costs, do not reply in anger because you don’t want to regret things later, and look even worse than you did before. Keep your calm and be composed.
Ignoring Can Be the Best Option, Sometimes
When your online reputation is on the hot seat, you simply can’t ignore the power of criticism which can have good or bad effects on your freelance career. You know yourself better and sometimes, it is better to ignore than to argue and waste your time.
Having a High Level of Self-Awareness Works All the Time
To err is human and by accepting your mistakes and welcoming useful, constructive criticism.. you can improve yourself as a freelancer. Yes, it’s necessary to have a thicker skin, but that doesn’t mean being resistant to change. Only through acknowledgment can you truly learn how you can improve yourself, continuously.
Know the Difference
There’s surely a difference between a criticism and an encouragement. You have to look behind a person’s motives in criticizing your work. Again, it is your work that’s under scrutiny, not your character as a person. If there’s a repeating pattern here, maybe you have to accept that there’s truth in what seems to be coincidences.
Break the Ice
This time, we’re talking about the iceberg that you’ve built around yourself. If you show that you’re eager to accept feedback and learn from it, your clients or coworkers may be more comfortable in telling you the whole story – and not just bits and pieces of it. Would you rather have the tip of the iceberg, or the full block itself?
Build Your Pick-Me-Up Moment
Criticisms can make you feel down and out that you need to build a positive vibe around you. Get yourself a support buddy, be it your mom, your best friend or your beloved cat. Whatever makes you feel good is truly a blessing when you are in a tough situation. It feels good to have someone listen and empathize too.
Summon Your Wit and Hold Fast
I know it’s tough, but if you can keep your emotions at bay and focus on the tangible lessons you can take to improve your skills, that’s good enough. If there’s nothing you can learn or change, then simply move on. Wasting your time at inept critics or running a self-pity marathon achieves nothing.
At the end of a work day, putting everything in perspective can mean smiling at the thought that no matter how contradicting our views can be, we are here on Earth for a purpose. Choose wisely. Be smart with the relationships you have in your freelance business. There may be blind spots that hold you back and perhaps, it’s time to listen carefully, of accepting ideas with an open mind.
And if it doesn’t make any sense at all, you can always trust your instincts. Learn from the experience, justify yourself when necessary, prove them wrong.. or just move on.
What do you think is the best way to deal with negative criticism?