How to deal with judgment

Dealing with judgment is a welcome skill in any creative endeavor that you wish to share with others. Some know how to tune out criticism and do only what works for them. Some know how to tolerate negative feedback and even incorporate it into their work. And some know how to seek out, embrace and thrive from judgment, without losing sight of their own vision or ignoring their personal intuition. (They are usually the most creative, productive and persistent in their efforts.)

If your creative endeavor is just for your personal benefit, you don’t need buy-in from others. But if you’re looking to build a viable livelihood around it, your ability to earn positive responses and learn from negative reactions becomes critical.

Those who don’t know how to deal with criticism might not pursue potentially rewarding projects simply because it carries the risk of failure and thus, judgment from others.

The fact is, not everyone will like you, like what you have to say, or like what you have to offer. If you allow fear of judgment to dictate your actions, you will tend to stick with the tried and true instead of bring your unique, untested ideas into the market. The more skilled you are at welcoming judgment, the more fun you can have with the creative process.

Judgment, when processed effectively, can help you tweak, improve and revitalize your idea, approach, product or invention to better serve your target audience. When someone delivers judgment, see if there are ways you can use it in your creative process.

Really tune in to what the person is saying and look at your creation from their perspective. Learn to separate yourself from your ideas and your work (at least while you are receiving feedback) and refrain from getting defensive. Set your boundaries. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to cool off instead of lash out at negative feedback.

On the flip side, be aware that not all feedback is valid or useful in your creative process, especially when it comes from tyrants, status quo protectors, and energy vampires:

Tyrants are those who deliver criticism that dilutes your sense of self-worth and discounts the value you bring. They fear competition and are most concerned with their own power, status and achievements.

Their feedback often comes in the form of personal attacks and degrading comments that are meant to downplay your efforts and convince you of their intellectual dominance or creative superiority. You tend to feel unworthy and inferior after receiving feedback from a tyrant.

Status quo protectors are those who deliver criticism that protects the way things have been done. They seek to preserve the status quo because their livelihood, reputation or success depends on it.

Their feedback usually comes in the form of opinions about why the tried-and-true approach is the better way to go. You tend to feel scared and cautious after receiving feedback from a status quo protector.

Energy vampires are those who deliver criticism that encourages you to be overly negative or extra skeptical about your endeavors. Often suffering from insecurity and paranoia, they suck the energy out of you to build up their own reserves.

Their feedback usually comes in the form of worst-case scenarios and doomsday projections about why your approach would never work. You tend to feel drained and depressed after receiving feedback from an energy vampire.

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As the recipient of feedback, you are best served when you can decipher valid comments that add value from destructive comments that offer no value.

Don’t allow tyrants to bully you, status quo protectors to derail you, or energy vampires to suck the life out of you.

As you stay open to criticism, be sure to maintain your center and keep your sense of leadership.  Use feedback to guide you in your creative endeavors, but never let it dominate you, override your own unique vision or stamp out your personal insight.


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Photo by: Jon Jordan