So You Had Your Work Critiqued. Now What?

You had your work critiqued. The apprehension, the nervousness, the wondering is over. You may have hated it (or if you’ve never received serious feedback on your work you may dread it) but you did it.

Congratulations! Now you have in your hands a tool for improvement.

Critiques and reviews are the best tools for improvement because they give you direction and focus.

But this isn’t about why you should get a critique, instead its all about what happens after. If you want to know the benefits, read all about them here.


What happens after a critique is more important than the before or during. It’s the time where tremendous growth, stagnation, or unfortunately reversion happen. Believe me, I’ve experienced all three. Whichever one you experience is a result of your actions and thoughts after receiving a critique or review.

Feedback Reactions

Everyone reacts differently to feedback in my experience. Your reaction is who you are. But it’s also dependent on the type of feedback you receive. Your reaction doesn’t make you right or wrong. You only respond to different types of feedback in your way.

When I work with people, I try to decide what types of feedback creates a positive response and give that form of feedback. I want you to have a positive reaction and experience tremendous growth from the feedback I give. Everyone responds to different feedback in different ways. For example, some respond well to upfront critical reviews – they respond well to the negative aspects of feedback. Others respond better to encouragement and guidance rather than the more direct approach. Whether someone values coaching or evaluation, usually based on the type prefered and received there are three types of reactions I’ve seen to a review.

First, the overly gracious and eager to jump in and fix everything at once first person. They immediately grab their camera and get to work. I love them! Their enthusiasm is contagious, but they step in without thinking and don’t have a plan to improve. Without a plan, it’s difficult to stay focused and to scale your learning.  Their excitement is detrimental without a plan.  It’s important to pull back a little and realistically look at the work that needs doing.

Second is the stalwart person who doesn’t show emotion but objectively accepts the feedback. They may reflect, put a plan together and improve. Or they may ignore it and move on, I’m not sure. Usually they hide their frustrations, their excitement, and their confusion. Hiding your reaction from your reviewer or coach is never productive. A good coach is there to help and letting them know how you feel allows them to help you more.

Third is the person who balks at the feedback. They might believe the reviewer doesn’t get their style or may use other excuses to diminish the hurt. Oh yes, it’s actually pain. They worked hard to put together work, and it stings at times to hear where they could’ve done things better.

But instead of taking the feedback and using it for improvement, they stew. Or they put the pillow over their head and turn on the tv for comfort. Or they complain to someone and look for reassurances elsewhere. They are angry because they put effort into their work and only see the negative associated with it.

No matter which one you may experience, there is a process that will help you move to growth. It doesn’t matter if you’re excited, ambivalent or angry. How you react to the information may be different, but it’s necessary you take three action steps first.

Let It Soak In

Give yourself time off. No matter your gut reaction to the feedback, step away and let it steep. You should reflect on it. Reflection brings clarity, ideas, and a plan on how to proceed. I know this is especially hard for the two extremes; if you’re eager then you want to get to work right away and if you’re hurt, then you don’t want to work at all.

If you are too eager, you need the time to plan and focus. Consider ideas and options that will help you succeed. If you are stewing, you need time to cool down, take a different look and embrace the possibility of growth. I know this too well because I recently reacted  to feedback like this. As a result went through a rut. But in that rut, I reflected (a lot) and I’ve had the most growth with my photography.

When you reflect on it, you should think about both the positives and the negatives. Sometimes we get caught up in the negatives and our emotions get the better of us. This is why reflection is imperative. It allows us to cool down, consider every aspect, and walk away with positive emotions and improvement.

Develop a Strategy

Like I said a minute ago, trying to fix it all at once for the eager is not good. Flying into improvement is difficult and you need an overall strategy. One you can and will follow. Decide on the area you need to work on the most. Choose one you know you can develop and see results from. But don’t create a strategy where you try to fix every issue at once. As a track coach, I never told my runners to fix their arms, start picking up their knees, lengthen their stride, and keep their head up all at the same time. Not only would it confuse them, but if they implemented it they’d look crazy, and their running form would be worse than before. Instead, I chose one area for them to work on and many times as they worked on one, the others would improve too.

When I give feedback I help my clients choose those areas to work on. Even with a simple image review, I let them know the areas of improvement, but then we work to figure out which one they should focus on. With my 1 hour mentorship, I offer coaching that focuses only on one area and how to improve. But those who want more feedback and who need work in more areas, I offer a full mentorship of 4 sessions that include more feedback and goal setting.

The last thing you need is overwhelm and when there is too much to learn or improve this can happen. So to tame the overwhelm, focus on one thing.

Gather Your Resources

Finally, improvement happens most swiftly with a plan that includes resources at your disposal. Gather ideas on what resources you can use to improve. They can be books, articles, mentors, people, courses, workshops, or a plan for plain old practice. Create a list of resources so you can draw on them to help you in your journey.

Feedback Is A Belief In You, Not An Evaluation of Worth

Finally, understand that feedback is a belief in your potential, not that you aren’t good at something. A coach doesn’t critique a player because they think they’ll never be any good. They do it because they believe in the potential of the player. The goal of any good coach is to move you forward, help you improve, and show you how you can do that.

I’ll plug my mentoring services once again because I want to help you improve. I want to make sure you get the best feedback you can with a strategy for improvement.

The first thing I do is gather your story from you, which includes your work and style, but also how you receive feedback best. I want to make sure I tailor your experience best to your ability to learn and digest the feedback. If you’d like to find out more information you can here.