Do you seek to hear about your work from other people; feedback, criticism, opinions, advice? But sometimes you find it hard to swallow the information, that you really want to build upon and grow your work in a mature way. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is a difference between certain types of information that people can give to you about your work. There are only two types that you should concern yourself with from outside sources, feedback and criticism.

This is a common misconception, but there is no such thing as constructive criticism. Criticism is finding fault with your work.

The difference is how the messages are delivered and interpreted by you. Feedback doesn’t deconstruct your work, it should help to improve some part about your process or product as you progress and practice it in future work.

Feedback is for the future, Criticism is for the past.

Feedback evaluates your work positively, and can come from people who are closer to you and your work, someone who understands and values your process / ideals / goals, but someone who is also knowledgable about the subject or profession, while have a greater weight to their voice.

Criticism is akin to an opinion, and an opinion is a view about a particular subject matter, and is entirely subjective. There are no winners when it comes to opinions.

This is something you should remember, an opinion is based on situational or circumstantial life events surrounding a person and that view may be different to yours.

Remember that, as a professional in your field, you have made a decision that you believe solves the problem presented to you, objectively, with the best possible solution. You have your process and knowledge to back it up. So always be confident in your work.

When is it ever a good experience when someone approaches you and asks “do you mind if I give you some constructive criticism?”.

Criticism makes you feel defeated, instills a sense of self-doubt, and ultimately demotivates you. If a person asks you, “‘Can I’ give you feedback”. People will say ‘feedback’ because it doesn’t sound as negative as criticism, when really, if someone is asking to give their voice about your work, they are just preparing you. Giving you a warning that they are about to deconstruct your work and process. This is criticism.

When you are part of a small, professional community or share your work with close professional friends and colleagues, most of the time they will aim to offer helpful information regarding your work.

Likewise, if someone is asking you for your feedback on their work. Consider your delivery of this information, what started out as objective feedback may become subjective criticism of the work, it’s a delicate subject and must be handled thoughtfully and maturely.

Feedback is a constructive method to provide insight and the best practice. It is something you as a professional should seek from another professional.

You may see “I would have done…”, or ‘I would have used…” from commenters on social media outlets when following some of your favourite artists and musicians. But remember, these people are not part of the process, they may even know little about the person ‘behind the art’. They are following the same artist as you for a reason. This person is a professional, and has made the decision in their work for a reason.

You will notice online that the more popular an artist becomes, the more people they attract, which means the more opinions get voiced, which means, the more arguments that occur from people who don’t agree.

No one should willingly pass on their opinion on your work without you asking for it. The same way you should never voice your opinion on someones work without them asking for it.

To ask for feedback is a sign of maturity and confidence in you and your work. You don’t always have to seek feedback, but to seek it, is to strive to add value to your future work and process, and could help you discover a new direction in your profession.

You learn as you grow and you grow as you learn.