Don’t Tell Me: “That was great!”
The difference between what we want to hear and what we think others want to hear.
As a human being it is merely natural that we wish to be praised and congratulated on our work. And with that knowledge, we tend to support our loved ones and peers with such respect. Being a creative artist, I also crave recognition: for my craft. Although, after I’ve obtained confidence in myself, I want to know how to continue advancing.
When I present a new work I’ve created, such as an article, poem, play, a piece of theatre I’ve directed, the last thing I want to hear is just: “That was great!” You might find that peculiar. ‘Why wouldn’t you want to be praised? Didn’t you just say that humans long for recognition?’ I did. But only hearing how “great” it was will not help me improve what I’ve constructed. That uplifting response conveys that you like my work, which is comforting, but does not advise me how to advance my artistry.
I might be coming across rather pompous, like I do not appreciate flattery, however a compliment only goes so far. Especially when you know parts of your project are flawed.
What I do what to hear is:
“That was great, although I think you could have…” or “It could’ve been better if…”
Constructive criticism is something I yearn for. Tell me how to make my work better. Tell me how to fix what I know to be lukewarm, and help me set it on fire. Aid in my inspiration to continue creating.
Be honest. If you don’t like what I’ve made, tell me, and disclose why. I have a very clear point of view on my art, but I’d love to hear yours; it can reveal a world full of ideas I never dreamt of. Honesty is key in collaboration and creation.
I am not meaning to act as if I’m complimented every day on how great my work is, but I grow tired of hearing thin compliments when discussing something I know to be imperfect or rusty. Assist me in polishing it, so we can admire its glimmer and shine.
My purpose of writing this was not to halt the praise of me, yourself, or others, but to redirect the feedback in a more helpful way. I completely welcome compliments, especially when they’re followed by a constructive comment.