As a creative professional, handling constructive criticism is par for the course – but that doesn't mean it's always easy. People who lack professional self-confidence may feel wounded by the slightest critique of their work, while those with inflated egos may object to any proposed changes to a project. How do you fare in the face of negative feedback? Take this quiz to find out if you're getting too big for your britches.
Here are the answers.
- You're at a job interview and the hiring manager asks you to talk about your strengths. How would you most likely respond?
- "I'm good, and I would be better if I were given a chance."
- "I hope you don't have any more appointments today, because I could talk for hours about my strengths!"
- Mention your three most important job-related strengths.
- Discuss one of your professional strengths.
- You're asked to work with a new member of the design team on a high-profile project. The "rookie" has good ideas, real talent and serious ambition. Coworkers tease you, saying she's angling for your job. So you...
- Let her work on a minor piece of the project while you save the best parts for yourself.
- Compliment your coworker to her face, but tell other staff members that she still has a lot to learn.
- Ask yourself why you find her so threatening, and decide that she puts the spotlight on your own lack of confidence and drive.
- Brush off your coworkers' comments as you enjoy the creative "jumpstart" you get from working with her.
- Which of the following phrases most closely describes your attitude toward collaboration?
- The energy that's generated when I work with other creatives gives me fresh insights and terrific ideas.
- I love to work with others; alone, I'm not that good.
- It's troublesome to work on projects with other people – I feel like I'm doing most of the work.
- Being creative isn't about collaboration.
- During a review meeting, one of the principals at the agency where you work delivers a very candid, harsh critique of your ad concept. While no one else at the meeting comes right out and agrees with him, nobody jumps to your defense either. How do you react?
- After the meeting, call your best friend and break down. Beg her for reassurance that you really are a good designer.
- Storm out of the meeting, saying you can't possibly be expected to work with creatively impaired individuals.
- Deduce that the principal was having a rotten day, and you had the bad luck to get caught in the line of fire. Go back to the drawing board, modify the design to match his specifications and move on.
- Schedule a one-on-one meeting with the principal to explain that it upsets you when he blatantly clobbers your work, and you prefer to receive feedback in a different manner.
- Your manager is very pleased with your latest project and mentions to her supervisor – with you also present – that you are "one of the most creative, original people she's ever had the privilege to work with." You smile and say...
- "One of the most? I'm the best!"
- "Thanks. That means a lot, coming from someone with your experience and abilities."
- "Oh, I'm not really that good."
- "You haven't seen anything yet!"
- You've been working overtime for several weeks on a presentation that the CEO will give to the company's shareholders. You feel that it's your best work to date, but your manager returns a printout of the slides with extensive edits. How do you react?
- You consider the comments not as indictments of your talent but as recommendations that will make the information easier to digest visually.
- You defend your work, claiming that his feedback actually weakens the presentation.
- Apologize profusely and make the changes immediately.
- Distribute copies of the original presentation and the marked-up draft to all your coworkers and ask them to vote on which version is better.
- During fee negotiations, your contact at the client company remarks that your rates seem a little high, given your limited work in their industry. How do you respond?
- Back down and settle for less than you normally charge.
- Head for the door and say, "Maybe you just can't afford a real creative professional."
- Explain that your work tends to be better than others in your profession, and that's why your rates may be somewhat higher.
- Point out that your rates are in line with what other creatives charge and assure the client that you will be able to deliver what they want, on time and within budget.
- Which of the following phrases best describes your professional outlook?
- I should be treated reverentially because creatives like me are one in a million.
- I enjoy the creative process, but I don't value my self-worth by what I produce.
- Whenever someone makes a negative comment about my work, I think the person is probably right.
- I crave praise the way some people crave chocolate.
- You are asked to critique the work of a UX designer who's being considered for a full-time position at your company. What do you do?
- Examine the portfolio, taking note of the candidate's weaknesses.
- Give the candidate's portfolio to one of your direct reports to review – you're overwhelmed with your own workload as it is.
- Explain to your boss that you're not really qualified to judge someone else's work.
- Inspect the portfolio with an eye toward whether this candidate would be an asset to the department.
- The office you work in is being redesigned, and the end result is that you'll have to share a common workspace with several of your teammates. The creative director says the new layout will encourage brainstorming and boost everyone's creativity. How do you see the situation?
- As a slap in the face – how do they expect you to work if you're constantly distracted by other people who are trying to steal your ideas?
- As a subtle message that your work isn't good enough – after all, you apparently don't even merit your own personal office.
- You see it as an experiment – you'll try it out before rendering an opinion.
- It's one more example of how the creative division is undervalued and mistreated. What's next – one computer for every five people?
Award yourself three points for every "healthy ego" answer you selected.
- This statement suggests a somewhat weak self-confidence level.
- Boasting and exaggerating are two common features of a plus-size ego.
- Good! A person with a healthy ego has a balanced, realistic view of him- or herself.
- This ego may be a little fragile – "strengths" is plural.
- Careful! Your ego is getting in the way.
- This kind of backstabbing could spring from insecurity.
- If you have doubts about your confidence and drive, you probably have an ego that needs a little help.
- Excellent choice! This is the response of a person with a healthy ego.
- Great! This is a healthy ego's outlook.
- This ego could use a boost.
- Spoken like a true egomaniac.
- This statement could come from either an over- or undersized ego.
- Watch out. You might have trouble finding this ego with a microscope.
- Such tantrums are signs of overblown self-confidence.
- Good choice. Your healthy ego enables you to take things in stride and keep events in perspective.
- This suggests an ego that's a little too sensitive for your own good.
- Uh oh. Sounds like self-glorification.
- Very nice. This is a healthy ego speaking – and graciously complimenting someone else.
- Self-effacing comments may be a warning sign that an ego's undernourished.
- This kind of breezy remark is either a big ego's hot air or a small ego's bravado.
- Very good! Your healthy ego also is very strong, enabling you to maintain a professional outlook.
- Careful! Are you going on the defensive because your slightly large ego can't stand to be corrected?
- Your professional confidence level may need a little boost.
- There are only two reasons to do this – either your big ego wants to get revenge on the manager, or your small ego craves approval.
- This seems like a small ego response.
- This is the reaction of someone with a superiority complex.
- Your ego may be a little bigger than others' egos.
- Right! A person with a healthy ego keeps his or her cool and presents an objective, rational argument to defend his or her rates.
- Yikes! No need to super size this ego – it's already overgrown.
- Good! A healthy ego is characterized by this kind of balanced outlook.
- This may indicate low self-esteem.
- This fragile ego needs some fortification.
- No good. Focusing only on flaws may be a sign of insecurity.
- An overblown sense of self-importance is the trademark of a bloated ego.
- This could be an undersized ego talking – it's afraid of providing an opinion.
- Wonderful! Because you have a healthy ego, you're able to look beyond your own concerns and consider the needs of your employer.
- This type of self-centered attitude sounds like "big ego speak."
- Those who lack confidence tend to interpret everything around them as a negative comment on their worth.
- Good! Your healthy ego allows you to be open-minded.
- This response goes beyond ego problems and into the realm of paranoia.
If you scored 24-30 points: Congratulations! Your ego is generally solid and healthy. If you missed one or two questions, however, you may want to review how you have responded to similar situations in the past.
If you scored 15-23 points: Heads up! Remember that both the overblown and the undersized ego have a common source: insecurity. This is probably a good time to make an honest, objective assessment of your talents and shortcomings. Consider your conclusions in light of your professional goals – have you taken on more than you can handle? Do you feel burned out or unsatisfied? Do you need to develop or acquire certain skills to land better jobs or assignments? Are you doing work you truly enjoy? Sometimes stress and frustration can upset the ego's equilibrium.
If you scored 0-12 points: Red alert! You've got a serious ego crisis. Take a good look at your level of confidence and get started on improvements pronto!
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