A Guest Post by Paul Ellsworth (a. k. a. Profe Pablo)
As we work on a creative project - regardless if it's visual, written or performing, we inevitably face feedback. Feedback is crucial for testing our work, making sure we are
communicating the right message, reaching the right audience, providing the right quality, addressing the right needs.
However, most of the time we are hoping for approval and encouragement, and yet - we need to be prepared for criticism. If we're lucky, it's going to be constructive. And at times even constructive criticism may sound like a rejection. And what about the well-known "haters"? How do we handle THEIR feedback?
In today's guest post my friend Profe Pablo (recorded in his passport as Paul Ellsworth) is sharing how to handle honest
feedback and turn it into a powerful tool for achieving great results.
Probably his insights can prove to be helpful on your own creative journey.
Inevitably, every semester, someone cries in my class. They simply cannot handle the stress of being on stage, and they break down in tears. I always have a box of tissues ready.
I am a highschool Public Speech teacher.
Public speaking is often feared more than death. There is something powerful about watching my students face their fears of standing in front of an audience. Every time they do it well, I feel proud of their work. Usually, the students feel shy and uncertain at the beginning of the semester. By the end, many become confident public speakers.
What is the difference between those who grow and those who stay stagnant in the class?
It all depends on how they handle honest feedback.
In my speech class, we practice honest feedback on a regular basis.
The idea came from an emotional breakthrough retreat that I went through. The idea of "emotional breakthrough retreat" may sound terrifying. Trust me, it was!
One of the activities that we had to do at the camp was stand in front of a group of strangers and answer random questions about our lives. The people who listened were instructed to give us "honest feedback" as to how they experienced us. Although some of the feedback hurt, most of it was encouraging, and even the negative comments felt positive because it was useful for my self-improvement.
When designing the speech class for high school students, I decided to use the same concept. In the class, we practice giving brutally honest feedback to each other's speeches.
We all need honest feedback with our art.
Feedback is a hard thing to receive. It initially comes across as rejection, and it hurts.
One of the forms of art that I use the most is writing. I love to write short articles on how to improve one's life. I even have an e-mail list for people who want to receive my content on a regular basis.
My e-mail list has been growing steadily for the past month due to an experiment that I tried on Medium.com. But it has not all been fun and games. In fact, it has been difficult at times.
I have had many people unsubscribe from my newsletter. Here is a screenshot of my current unsubscribers (this is only part of the list!):
I remember when the first person unsubscribed and how much it hurt. I was devastated.
But as devastating as this list of unsubscribers is, every time I see it, I have a choice to make based off of this question: How will I receive honest feedback?
I have experienced other rejections in my writing. Over a month ago I submitted an educational article to a website. It was accepted and I was paid for guest posting.
I thought that I had won the lottery!
"I'll just keep posting to this site and watch the cash roll in", I mused.
Every article since then that I have submitted to that publication has been rejected. The editor of the site has been trying to work with me but says that my writing is not what they are looking for. It is not unique enough.
What to do with feedback.
You are going to receive positive and negative feedback. It is inevitable. The question then becomes, what are you going to do with that feedback?
You have a few options:
Option 1: Ignore it.
You could ignore the feedback completely. As crazy as this may sound, it is actually a valid option to consider.
Consider who your feedback is coming from.
Is it from someone who is out to simply hurt you?
Is it coming from a toxic source?
If you answered "yes," then it isn't true feedback. It is simply people disposing of their negative energy.
Don't pay attention to people who are just out to hurt.
However, if the feedback is from a good source, then you CANNOT ignore it. Which leads us to option 2.
Option 2: Let it cripple you.
Most of the time people are not out to simply hurt you.
Often times when people give feedback (tactfully and not tactfully), they are simply telling you their experience of your work. If the feedback feels negative and hurts, it is tempting to let it cripple you.
Here is an option: Let it cripple you!
Throw a pity party.
Go sit in a corner and bitterly declare to the world that you will not go forward.
The problem is the price of that option. If you let feedback cripple you, the currency you have to use as payment is the dream of your art. Letting feedback cripple you will cost you everything.
Option 3: Let it propel you forward.
I don't watch American Football often, but when I do, there is one play that gets me out of my chair and on my feet in excitement every time.
The particular set of actions goes like this:
A receiver catches the ball and is immediately hit by the opposing team. Although many would let the hit throw them to the ground, on occasion a receiver will use the momentum of the hit to spin, gain his footing and propel him forward down the field. The energy that looked like it would defeat him actually pushes him back on his feet.
And that is how you want to handle honest feedback.
There are three steps to this process:
Step 1: Receive.
Take the feedback and even thank the person for giving it to you.
Thank them for their honesty. Tell them that you will take their opinion into consideration.
Step 2: Analyse.
Look at the feedback and see what you should change or can change about your art the next time around. It's possible that only part of the feedback is useful to you. Take that part and take necessary action to make the changes.
Step 3: Try again.
The key here is to learn from your mistakes and to try again.
Failing isn't final unless you give up.
Don't give up!
Put your art out there again. The worst that can happen is that you will receive some tough feedback again. If you have the right attitude, that feedback will only make your art stronger.
As for me, my newsletter is coming up soon this week. Every week, I have been working on making my newsletter more powerful. This week will be no different.
Will I get some unsubscribers?
Possibly, but I have already decided to learn from the feedback, move forward, and put my art out there again for more honest feedback.
Image source: HERE
About Paul "Profe Pablo"
He loves teaching, writing, and spending time with his family.
Download his free e-book here: “Profe Pablo’s 25 Teaching Tips that will instantly make your life easier” and subscribe to his newsletter to learn more about public speaking, education, and building influence!
Have your say!
- How do you handle feedback? How do you GIVE feedback?
- Have you had times you let go of your dream due to criticism?
Have you had times feedback made you believe you could do it?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below and remember to tell your friends on social media!
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