Tips and Tricks from our Senior Marketing Manager

My first encounter with the word ‘criticism’ or rather ‘critique’ was as a young child, watching the animated movie Ratattouille. The movie told the story of a rat with an exquisite palette that found himself in the restaurant kitchen of a chef, who was trying to impress some food critics who stood in the way of his restaurant gaining a Michelin star.

A couple years later, I joined the work force as a content writer and encountered the word criticism again. But, with an adjective before it. They called it constructive criticism. The type that helps you grow, do better, be better. Not to be confused with destructive criticism. The type that is meant to put you down. Pretty easy to tell apart, right? Well…not really. And this is mostly because, depending on how attached you are to your work, constructive criticism can sometimes come off as negative. So, I feel compelled to share some of the tips and tricks that have helped me be more open to internalising criticism over the years.

  1. Detach Yourself From the Work

Unexpected feedback can sometimes feel like a slap on your face. And naturally, our human reaction to being slapped is to go on the defensive, as we perceive this as an attack. Normally, when this happens to me, I tend to tune out. But that’s not productive. So instead, I have learnt to take a deep breath and then try to take in what is being said. 

  1. Listen to Understand, not Respond

The only way to do this is by listening. And not listening to respond, but listening to understand where the other party is coming from. Listening to see where the gaps in my story could have been because if this thing that was super obvious to me is not as obvious to this other party, it is not because they are not as smart. It is because there’s a communication barrier of sorts, and the only way I can figure that out, is by listening keenly to what is being said, identifying the gaps and making pointers to improve.

  1. Keep an Open Mind

However, sometimes, feedback is not always as clear. Oftentimes, what we understand is not necessarily what is being said. So I find that it helps to ask questions where I do not understand. And on occasion I have been heard to repeat exactly what has been said at the end of the discussion, just to confirm that what I have heard and interpreted as the feedback is what the other party actually meant and so we are all on the same page. 

  1. Normalise Peer Reviews

As a young professional starting out a career in the creative industry, I was very cautious of people’s opinions when it came to my work. The idea of anyone seeing my work and sharing ideas to make it better or suggesting it was less than was scary. But, I very fast learnt that in this industry, everyone is always going to have something to say about your work. Therefore the sooner you got comfortable with the idea of sharing your work with team mates, incorporating feedback and building up on other people’s ideas, the faster one grew to becoming a pro. 

As a result of this, I try my best to instill these values in my team here at Akili Network. Not because I am now the one sharing majority of the feedback, but because, I strongly believe that great teams are built on the backbone of great communication. From being able to point out a thing that could be done better with kindness and that feedback being received with grace, internalised and incorporated. That way everyone feels included, heard and most of all valued. 

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