The process of discovering any great solution is messy, even stressful. As creative professionals it’s our job to include non-creatives, usually the people who pay us, in the sacred rituals of our craft. Unless you are in the trenches of creativity yourself, it’s hard to grasp just how difficult this can be.

To include outsiders in our process we must let people in our heads. We must be vulnerable, which breeds creativity and expressionism. But we also expose ourselves to criticism. This is when it’s easy to let things get personal, especially when we fail to sell a concept or idea.

Most creatives take enormous pride in everything they make. Whether it’s a simple headline or larger writing assignment, an ad or a web page, logo or interior design, it doesn’t matter. A lot of time is spent toiling over problems, with several iterations likely tossed aside before finding a solution. Which means creatives have a lot invested in the final execution of their product. So it’s natural to want to defend your work, but when others don’t buy in, it’s wise to stop and ask yourself, “why?” Why isn’t everyone on the same page? If you’re honest, it’s usually not because someone didn’t like your execution. You likely failed to communicate its value. Yet that’s the job of any creative. That’s the business of what we do. We not only execute, but we’re tasked with making non-creatives appreciate the value of our work.

There is no better way to achieve this goal than to include stakeholders—our critics—in our process. When we include others, everyone is likely to have a clearer understanding of not only the problem, but also the final solution. They will grasp the effort involved in its development. And when all parties feel a sense of ownership, it likely will lead to support and encouragement. Not criticism.

When you fulfill a vision and deliver results as a team, you build trust within that team. Clients and partners respect the process. Then, the next time you find yourself up against a similar challenge, it can feel a lot less frustrating than before.

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