We human beings are deeply social creatures. It’s how we’re wired. One of the ways that this shows up is in our deep desire to have people love our creations, whether it’s a piece of art or a course, a business or a blog post.
Sharing our creations takes courage!
To make something with your whole heart and put it out into the world is a courageous act – whether you’re launching a product or service for the whole wide world to see or you’re tenderly showing a piece of art to one other human being..
And what happens if pour your whole heart and soul into a creation, you drum up the courage to share it and then… people don’t like it?
Here’s how I’ve learned to handle negative feedback. I hope it bolsters your tender heart the way it has bolstered mine.
Four Strategies for Handling Negative Feedback
1. Let yourself feel what you feel.
If I’m hurt, disappointed, angry, defiant or (fill in the blank), I let myself simply experience those feelings like a storm until they settle. I don’t pretend those feelings aren’t there, I don’t judge them or try to rise above them. I give myself time to feel what I feel.
As creative (and as human) beings, it’s important that we be with the truth of our experience. Don’t try to force yourself through. I know it’s uncomfortable. Be gentle with yourself. Journal it out. Moving helps too. Do what you need to do to take care of you and let the storm pass.
2. Look for learning.
Once the storm starts to quiet, I look closely at the feedback to see if there’s anything I’d like to respond to. Are there adjustments I could make that would improve the work? Are there things I need to take a stand for, despite the feedback?
When changes start moving me away from the core of my vision, everything starts to feel wobbly and I start to feel insecure. This lets me know that I’m moving in the wrong direction. It’s also a clue that the feedback came from someone who may not share my core vision – and that is totally fine.
On the other hand, when I start to make changes that bring me closer to my vision, I come alive. Then the feedback feels like a huge gift! As creatives, one of our deepest desires is to bridge the gap between what we imagine and what we create. When feedback helps with that, it inspires a palpable sense of excitement, joy and growing confidence.
3. Let go of what’s not useful.
If someone simply doesn’t like what I’ve created, offered or shared and it’s something that I believe in, something I love and something that is true to me, I stay true and let the feedback go. It’s not easy but what I’ve found is that every time I do that, I reaffirm myself and my work. My roots grow a little deeper and I find that I am better able to handle the next storm.
4. Your people are out there.
When I get negative feedback, I take a moment to remind myself that my people are out there, people who will appreciate my unique gifts and offerings. I call to mind a time in my life when that’s been true. I even keep an encouragement box in my desk of all the lovely things that people have said to me, all the positive feedback that I’ve received. If I’m feeling discouraged, I can pull out a reminder that hey, Lisa likes my work! And so does Donna! And Kim too!
Molly Gordon talks about how in business we have a niche and we have an offer. I think this is generally true in life. Our offer is what we sincerely, authentically bring to this world. It’s who we are and what we share. And our niche is that place, that ecosystem according to Molly, in which that offer is easily and recognizably of value. There’s nothing to be taken personally about being a rainforest plant who doesn’t fit into the desert. Just keep looking for home. Your people are out there.