Being Open to Feedback as a Creative Professional

I’m a freelance creative professional, meaning I get paid to create videos as my full time job. Someone recently said in my hearing, “I know those creative types. Unless you give them a timeline, the job won’t get done.”

I responded by saying, “There’s a lot of truth to that!”

One of my goals in my career is to break the stereotype of millennial workers who need to be applauded for every small task they complete and feel they are going above and beyond when they’re really just meeting the baseline standard. Showing up on time is not exceptional. Getting something done when you said you would is not exceptional. Being open to feedback and criticism is not exceptional. These are the basics.

It’s especially tricky with the creative types like myself. Creating is an act of vulnerability, so there’s something of yourself in everything you make. When you expose this to a client and say, “What do you think?” it can be pretty scary. 

The best thing we can do for our clients and for ourselves is to be open to feedback and willing to explain our creative decisions. If you can’t find a justification for an element of your work and the client is uncomfortable with it, you have no reason to insist that it stays. 

It’s not personal when someone says, “I think this shot could be better.” How many contractors—painters and masons and architects and carpenters—hear that same thing every day around the world? Unless they can give a good explanation, they get to work changing it right away. I want to be the kind of creative that takes that responsibility, swallows my pride when I need to, and creates something that meets the client’s expectation.

I don’t know where the line is between offering your expertise and accepting the client’s ideas, but I do know one thing: if you get into an argument, you lose, even if you win. (Credit: Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.)

There’s a huge difference between “I can’t work like this,” and, “I don’t like working like this.” Not all uncomfortable conversations are bad. Not all of our work should be praised. Not all criticism is personal.

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