Constructive criticism is one of the best gifts a freelancer can receive when freelancing. That being said, it’s not always easy to listen to and act upon. We often jump into defensive mode and ignore the advice we’re given on how to improve. While this is human nature, changing the way you identify with constructive criticism can significantly improve your freelancing career. Here are eight ways you can use constructive criticism effectively as a freelancer.
Understand the difference between ‘destructive’ and ‘constructive criticism for freelancing.
First of all, you need to understand that there is a fundamental difference between ‘destructive’ and ‘constructive criticism. Sometimes in life, people are just inherently negative. They’re out to complain about everything and are concerned with tarnishing people’s character for no justifiable reason. These people dish out ‘destructive’ criticism and don’t offer grounds for improvement or progression. Fortunately, such instances are few and far between in the gig economy.
More often than not, you will work for people who are courteous, professional, and easy to communicate with. If they’re not happy with an element of your service, they will thank you for your work and offer you feedback on how to improve. They don’t criticize for the sake of it; they do it to help you improve and to enhance the delivery. This is the type of criticism that you can act on and utilize for personal development.
When you receive some constructive feedback, the way you respond is super important. Even though it’s hard, thank the person for taking the time to reach out to you with the feedback, and assure them that you will do your best to work on it or take positive action. Even if your initial instinct is to disagree and argue, try your best to set your feelings aside and look at the situation objectively. It’s sometimes helpful to take a little time before responding, particularly if you have strong feelings about something.
Don’t take it as an insult.
When dealing with constructive criticism, it’s important not to take it too personally. It’s not an affront on your character; rather it’s a valuable insight into how you can improve. If you view it as a positive thing instead of an insult, you can start to look forward to receiving it and use it as an essential component of your personal development.
Ask questions for clarification.
If you think the criticism you’ve received is a little unjust or misguided, you can always ask the client for clarification. Seeking to understand the criticism is much more productive than becoming defensive or totally ignoring it. Also, in order to utilize the feedback, you need to understand how it was intended. You’ll find that most people are willing to elaborate on why they have written or said something, so feel free to ask for clarification.
Actively work on your delivery while freelancing.
Feedback or constructive criticism is only valuable if you decide to act upon it. When someone gives you feedback, make sure you take it on board and try and improve your delivery as a result. Also, look for commonalities and patterns in the feedback you receive. For instance, if you hear the same thing from more than one client, it’s likely to be something that you need to work on.
Keep a diary of your feedback and criticism.
Every time you receive some constructive criticism from a client, make a note of it in your diary or in a document on your computer. You should also note what action you took and how you dealt with the situation. Although it will seem challenging at first, keeping a diary of constructive criticism will help you deal with it and will form an important part of your personal development.
Follow up with the client.
When you’ve taken steps to work on the criticism you’ve received, make sure you follow up with the client and communicate the changes that you’ve made. Whether it’s a specific change that you’ve made to a project or something you’ve changed about your delivery, you should make it clear that you’ve taken your feedback on board. Everyone likes to hear they’ve been listened to, and they will be thrilled that you’ve taken the time to improve upon their project.
Learn when to let go.
If you’ve acted with integrity and done your best to make the requested changes, you’ve done everything you can. If your client still isn’t happy with your delivery, in spite of your best efforts, you need to learn when to let go and move on. While you’re obliged to do your best for every client you work for, you can only spend so much time on each project. Understanding when to let go is a vital step and something that you will learn as you add to your experiences.
Constructive criticism is an essential part of life as a freelancer. If you frame the feedback you receive as an opportunity for personal development and don’t take it as an insult, you can utilize it to improve your delivery as a freelancer. Without feedback, we would be stagnant and wouldn’t be able to grow and improve. Therefore, providing we take it in the right way, it’s something we should appreciate and be glad to receive.