How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Freelancing - Part 5

Aug 16, 2018 at 08:00 am by Warlord720

Can you take professional criticism?

A Skype conversation goes from normal to eerily quiet in a manner of seconds.

The person on the other end is coming to terms with their first professional critique.

Some are nervous, some are red-faced enough to see on Skype through a dollar store webcam. Others seem to want to curl up in a fetal position wishing they never plugged in that webcam for this convo. There are also the squirmers and fidgeters that just can’t sit still anymore.

The professional does none of these. Even if they are a newbie they are still professional.

You can tell they want to question the critique and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it may help develop a stronger relationship and lead to a better understanding when trying to get on the same page in future projects.

Most of the reactions I got ranged from anger (unprofessional) to shocked disbelief (unprepared) when a professional critique was calmly but deliberately given on their initial piece of work. 

Make no mistake about it – the first critique sets the tone for the rest of the project.

Make no mistake about it – the first critique sets the tone for the rest of the project. How you handle that initial assessment will most certainly impact any future employment considerations.

Keep your emotions in check. Don’t wear them on your sleeve as we used to say. Hide them, bury them, chant to them, do whatever it takes to never let your emotions surface as the professional workplace has little tolerance for a fit or tantrum. Particularly among adults.

Nobody wants to work with brats. Nobody wants to walk around you on eggshells. Nobody wants to have to couch what they say so it doesn’t hurt your feelings. You haven’t earned the right to be treated any different than any other professional.

Everyone should be able to openly critique and say what is on their mind without having to give thought to how it will be received except for always using common decency.

A professional critique does not denigrate. It does not belittle. It does not get petty.

A professional critique doesn’t involve things like, “why did you pick this color or this costume or this prop” as those things were settled long ago by the powers that be.

Nor is a professional critique about personal choices as you most likely weren’t allowed choices in a tightly monitored script.

We grunts are grunts for a reason. We are the worker ants, the drones that go about implementing ideas without question, so the production keeps moving forward. A stalled production is a more expensive production.

You are a newb so keep that in mind to temper that ego.

Think you got a better way? They don’t care.

Think you got a clever angle? They’ve already been there, done that and wore out the T-shirt.

A good manager will offer you opportunities for input but, if not, then keep it to yourself as you don’t want to be the one tagged for stalling projects and busting budgets.

As a project manager, there were people I wouldn’t hire again just for this reason.

Never stall an ongoing project unless it is your job to do so.

To make it clear… us digital grunts don’t have that kind of power. We are on the downhill side of everything that runs, oozes or drips.

In summation, just remember to keep your head up, your jaw locked and your neck stiff if that is what it takes and let that skin get thicker if a professional critique bothers you. You are paid to deliver a product to their specs.

Pardon my country ways, but them who writes the checks writes the rules.

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD at his website

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