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Criticism can be harsh. It can feel like an ambush, an unwanted attack that can feel personal, you freeze and you’re on defense. Criticism can be true. Believe it or not, it can even be encouraging.

What would things look like if there were no criticism? If we took away every criticism it could reverse many bad days and save egos from bruising. If there were no criticism how do we know we’ve really reached our potential? We would believe there is no need for improvement, no need to seek solutions for problems that don’t exist. On some level it may be limiting our creativity and growth. Would we see all the same societal, scientific, design, and technological advancements in the world today if creators never received a single criticism? Would they have felt the same encouragement and drive to innovate?

Creative personalities thrive on watching their ideas transform from a vision to something tangible that can be shared with others. A key motive in design, and any artist would agree, is to encourage open dialogue.

During the design process, we come up with ideas, analyze, and cycle through ways to improve. The feedback received during a design review is critical for working towards a common goal. It helps us predict potential problems sooner and explore ideas beyond our own. It highlights needs that otherwise may have been left unexplored. When we are sent back to the drawing board it can be stressful and demotivating. When we run into creative blocks, sometimes the critic is the one who pulls us out.

Working in design over the years has taught me that criticism is not meant to block, but further my creativity. It encourages me to think about what can be done better, reminds me to think ahead, and broadens my perspective. Criticism has been a constant catalyst for unveiling new potential. It becomes a great motivator. In design you can expect it. Eventually you may even learn to like it.