In the last lesson I talked about how to handle negative feedback. This is often the earliest and easiest way to combat a project going bad. Sometimes this feedback can be nothing to worry about at all, but on other occasions feedback can stop being constructive at all and start to feel more like a personal attack.
It’s Not Me, It’s You
To recap last week’s blog: When you get negative feedback it’s important not to respond straight away, try and be objective and ask for as specific points so as to make improvements. When feedback feels more angry or more personal, this can be all the harder to do. The first thing I would always remind people, is that it’s hard to know what is behind a client’s anger and it isn’t always you.
There can be many motivating factors behind an outburst. It can be tempting to respond to hostility with hostility but the high road is always best.
It’s hard not to feel insecure when someone is questioning the quality and output of what you do for a living. Quality is so often the stick that is used to beat us, and this is especially true of anyone working in a creative field. One example I always use on my mentees. Vincent Van Gogh. Now Vincent sold hardly any paintings during his lifetime. No one wanted them. Clearly the quality was awful. Yet today they are worth a fortune and loved throughout the world. This is one of the best examples of just how arbitrary quality can be.
I always tell people that generally everyday working life is better when you work for yourself, BUT when you have a bad day…you have a really bad day. Unhappy clients can cause a lot of stress not least from the possibility of a loss of expected earnings. When you’re dealing with unhappy clients, seek out those people in your circle for support. I’m talking friends and family but also your freelance community who might be able to give you a bit of impartial insight into what could be done differently.
Here comes a strange bit of advice. I don’t think that being chewed out (shouted at) is the end of a relationship. Now don’t get me wrong some people are going to get out their frustration and that’s it…you’re gone. Generally though I think that when a relationship is over it happens quietly. Either you’ll never hear from that client again or you’ll quietly be told that your services are no longer needed. Sometimes a chewing out is actually an opportunity to get things right. IF you can react positively and quickly.