what helped most in your career? : Dealing with criticism

18 Mar 2008 - 10:02am
6 years ago
7 replies
644 reads
Lukeisha Carr
2007

Hi Everyone,

I've been following the original thread about "what helped most in your career?". Many of the posts are very very inspiring.

I have on spin-off question. How do you deal with the criticism? I'm not talking about polite constructive criticism. That I have no problem accepting & applying. But what about the down right harsh hurtful comments, by peers, managers, &/or end users, when you know you did/are doing the best you can at that time? We all know that some jobs/careers are just not right for some people. They may have strengths/weaknesses that would indicate that they belong in a different career. How do you keep going, and believing that you are in a place in your career where you DO BELONG?

Now some of you may answer that it never bothered you, for you may have thick skin, but I'm also looking for answers from people who were, at least at some time, or may still be, very sensitive to that kind of criticism. Knowing that it will always rear its ugly head, how do you survive that now? In what ways did it make you stronger?

Thanks in advance.

~ L

____________________________________________________________________________________
Looking for last minute shopping deals?
Find them fast with Yahoo! Search. http://tools.search.yahoo.com/newsearch/category.php?category=shopping

Comments

18 Mar 2008 - 10:27am
kimbieler
2007

Lukeisha,

I took a job once where I hoped the firm owner would become a mentor.
I said as much in the interview. Not only did this not happen, but
after a year of working there, I had nothing to show for it
professionally. Everything I had worked on was the continuation of a
previously existing project and I became suspicious that he had
stopped assigning me new design work.

I mentioned my suspicion to him and he confirmed that yes, he didn't
have confidence in my design ability. I was floored, but at least I
knew the truth.

So, I was faced with a dilemma. I could either believe his assessment
that I was a bad designer, or I could believe my clients and others
who said I was a good designer. I had a lot at stake -- my career, my
self worth, my dreams. Ultimately, I decided that his opinion did
not count and that moreover, I couldn't afford to believe him.

That realization -- that I had a CHOICE what to believe -- was enough
to empower me. I put in my resignation the next day and embarked on a
freelance career that I have never regretted.

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

18 Mar 2008 - 10:55am
Dan Brown
2004

The "softer" skills of design is something I'd like to explore further, but
this seems like a good opportunity to throw out some initial ideas.
You'll probably get a lot of input from professionals who tell you to bite
back, but if you're anything like me, that's not your style. In the
dictionary under "non-confrontational" it says "see also: Dan".

You might look at criticism as:

feedback = information + judgment + emotion

What we want is lots of information, but this is often overshadowed by
judgment (I don't like that) and occasionally by emotion (I don't like that
and it makes me upset). Sometimes, we get feedback where information = 0,
which requires us to tease it out from the inputs we're given, namely
judgment (what don't you like about it?) and emotion (wow, this design
elicited quite a reaction, what about it bothers you?).

A good designer not only produces good designs, but is good at facilitating
conversations to get people to elaborate on the information. While I can't
offer you a translation service, you can train yourself to listen out for
specks of information and ask questions to elaborate on them.

Some people are just jerks. They're jerks to everyone, and you don't need to
make it your personal mission to make them kinder, gentler people. This is
the subject for another email, though.

Some other techniques I use:

Do a dry run, and have your colleagues role-play especially difficult
participants. This can help you prepare how you might react to unseemly
comments.

Let people vent: Sometimes I show up at meetings and just know that someone
wants to get something off his or her chest. I let 'em vent. It may be
disruptive, but you won't have their attention until they can say their
piece.

Guide the conversation: send an agenda around beforehand letting
participants know what kind of information they can provide that will be
most helpful.

Embed questions into your deliverables. This acknowledges to the
participants that there are still open issues and can guide the
conversation.

Get good at giving feedback. So many designers I've met will never advance
their career because they can't articulate what works and what doesn't work
about another person's design.

Bring allies: prep your colleagues for potentially disruptive participants
and let them know you'll need help if they act up.

And, if you're right in the thick of it, you can always just shut 'em down
with: "That's good feedback. We'll take a look at that for the next round of
revisions."

-- Dan

On Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 12:02 PM, Lukeisha Carr <lukeisha.carr at yahoo.com>
wrote:

> Hi Everyone,
>
> I've been following the original thread about "what helped most in your
> career?". Many of the posts are very very inspiring.
>
> I have on spin-off question. How do you deal with the criticism? I'm not
> talking about polite constructive criticism. That I have no problem
> accepting & applying. But what about the down right harsh hurtful comments,
> by peers, managers, &/or end users, when you know you did/are doing the best
> you can at that time? We all know that some jobs/careers are just not right
> for some people. They may have strengths/weaknesses that would indicate
> that they belong in a different career. How do you keep going, and
> believing that you are in a place in your career where you DO BELONG?
>
> Now some of you may answer that it never bothered you, for you may have
> thick skin, but I'm also looking for answers from people who were, at least
> at some time, or may still be, very sensitive to that kind of criticism.
> Knowing that it will always rear its ugly head, how do you survive that
> now? In what ways did it make you stronger?
>
> Thanks in advance.
>
> ~ L
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________________
> Looking for last minute shopping deals?
> Find them fast with Yahoo! Search.
> http://tools.search.yahoo.com/newsearch/category.php?category=shopping
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
| work: eightshapes.com
| book: communicatingdesign.com
| blog: greenonions.com
| talk: +1 (301) 801-4850

18 Mar 2008 - 10:43am
christine chastain
2008

Thanks for sharing...this reminded me of how difficult it is to find a
good mentor as well as what I need to remember now that I am one...;)

18 Mar 2008 - 1:40pm
Michael Zarro
2008

I agree, most "critics" don't expect a positive response to their feedback,
and it can be quite disarming - or even turn the critic into an ally.

I always try to thank people for their comments (kill 'em with kindness). I
don't have to agree with it, but I want to encourage a positive vibe in the
room. It's been particularly helpful in large group settings where someone
with good feedback might be intimidated into not contributing. If he or she
sees your warm reaction to harsh feedback, they may be more likely to speak
up.

- Mike

> And, if you're right in the thick of it, you can always just shut 'em down
> with: "That's good feedback. We'll take a look at that for the next round
> of
> revisions."
>
> -- Dan
>
>
>

18 Mar 2008 - 3:09pm
jrrogan
2005

One thing I'd like to add is that perpetrators who give unconstructive
criticism - negative unwarrented feedback, are often known for this,
(everyone around you has ears), and usually everyone else knows this persons
MO.

Thus you can look to the larger organization for support, and if this suport
isn't there, you should really question whether you should be there.

Rich

--
Joseph Rich Rogan
President UX/UI Inc.
http://www.jrrogan.com

18 Mar 2008 - 7:58pm
Gloria Petron
2007

Some things I had to figure out...
1) to recognize and overcome the need to win every argument
2) how to deal with someone who always has to have the last word
3) win or lose, sports competitions (in my case, karate tournaments) work
wonders your self-confidence
4) the more often you present, the better you get.

-G

19 Mar 2008 - 7:09am
Benjamin Ho
2007

I don't think it's fair to say that criticism doesn't bother
anyone. I think it's more fair to say that everyone handles it
differently. It all depends on how well developed you are yourself,
having learned certain techniques or epiphanies that move you along
the journey.

Some things that I've learned:

1. Remove yourself from your design. If the goal is to make it
better, then take all kinds of feedback, whether it's destructive on
constructive. If someone thinks you cannot do something and keep
hammering at you, ask the question - why? Find out the true reasons
instead of hiding from them. Get a perspective that allows you to
change.

2. In that sense, be more curious than being defensive. Take 6
seconds to breathe if you have to and then listen. Most people would
rather talk than listen. Don't be like most people.

3. If someone doesn't believe in your skills or isn't confident,
then why did you get hired? It's time to fight or fly. Know what
you CAN do and do really well, and concentrate on that instead of
your weaknesses. When people do what they love and love what they
do, especially if it's their unique ability, then everyone has their
sense of purpose and belonging. They fit better into any
organization.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=27263

Syndicate content Get the feed