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5 Ways Criticism Kills Creativity: Benefits of reducing criticism

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Creativity is at the heart of Film, TV, Fashion, Music, Architecture, Arts, Visual Arts, Marketing, Photography, Radio, Broadcasting, Gaming and Performing Arts. Creativity drives new ideas and moves these industries forward. Creativity helps us in the development of new ways of solving problems and can bring people together. Have you ever been to a live music event and everyone feels like one big community all there for one purpose? Have you ever read a book, watched a film or listened to a piece of music that has changed the way you view a topic? These experiences can be life changing. It can definitely be argued that creativity benefits us all.

Creativity flourishes in certain environments and can be reduced in other environments. A key external factor that reduces creativity is criticism. Receiving criticism in the creative industries is often seen as part of the course of working in the creative industries. Have you heard phrases including 'you need a tough skin to succeed in this industry?' or 'take it on the chin'? This normalises criticism and bullying within the creative industries. This needs to change. Constructive criticism is vital for growth but negative, personal feedback that only focuses on what went wrong kills creativity and reduces wellbeing.

support not criticism

How Criticism reduces creativity.

1: Fear of Failure If you have been heavily criticized or ridiculed, you may fear this happening again. It is easy to become afraid of sharing ideas or exploring new ways of doing things. If you fear being criticized for making a mistake you will start to avoid experimenting with new ideas. Experimentation is often a cornerstone of creativity and the key to many breakthroughs that have occurred within these industries.


Encourage a supportive environment where mistakes are viewed as part of the learning and creative process. This will allow people to make mistake and learn from them. For those of you who used to watch Bob Ross, he would often makes mistakes in his demonstrations and instead of starting over would call the mistakes 'happy accidents' and use them to fuel his creativity in that painting. This shows how a environment where mistakes are learnt from or drafted into the creative process fuels creativity.

2: Reduces Risk Taking Criticism can discourage people from taking risks and instead lead people to opt for safe choices that are more likely to avoid criticism. This limits new ideas and new ways of doing things. If we are making decisions to avoid criticism we are in threat mode focused on avoiding threat rather than developing our best work.

risks enhance creativity

Solution Encourage people to step outside their comfort zone and support people when things go wrong. Give constructive feedback, focus on what people can do next time rather than berating people for their mistakes. Focus on what actions people can do to resolve a mistake rather than use criticism. Risks have been a cornerstone of the creative industries from using new mediums to taking on political and societal themes. 3: Self-Doubt: High levels of criticism can make people doubt their ideas and abilities. When this happens people may dismiss their own ideas and lose their confidence which can impact on people’s ability to generate new ideas. This can lead to good ideas not being shred or acted upon.


Offer people praise. encouragement and give feedback without criticism. Be factual in your feedback. Acknowledge the effort people have put into the creative process. Use a supportive tone. For more tips on how to give feedback not criticism read this blog here.

4: Holding back Ideas High levels of prolonged criticism can lead people to fear of further criticism if they share their ideas. This may lead people to choose not to share ideas rather than risk harsh criticism. This leads to a lack of sharing of different perspectives and reduced collaboration which can reduce creativity. Solution

Encourage the sharing of different ideas and be supportive of all ideas. Even if an idea is not chosen thank people for the process of sharing ideas. Really listen to other peoples ideas without dismissing them straight away even if they seem out the box.

criticism reduce creativity

5: Creative Block The high levels of stress caused by prolonged levels of harsh criticism can lead to people not being able to make decisions and finding it difficult to think. The focus of avoiding criticism stops the flow of other thoughts which can lead to creative block. The high level of stress can also contribute to mental health difficulties and low levels of wellbeing.


Offer feedback that focus on growth and that highlights effort and progress. Use feedback not criticism. Try to cultivate cultures where people do not have to change to fit in. Look at ways in which you can reduce stress.

Creativity is a key pillar to many industries including Film, TV, Music, Architecture, Arts, Visual Arts, Photography, Fashion, Gaming and the Performing Arts. Creativity is a process that can be impacted by external factors. Criticism can negatively impact Creativity. Constructive feedback is needed to foster growth but criticism that is harsh, judgemental, not supportive and focuses on what did not go well can have a devastating impact on creativity. Criticism can also have a negative impact on those that work in the creative industries.

If we understand the potential impact of criticism and encourage a support culture, we can help creatives to thrive. Embracing mistakes, encouraging ideas, looking for solutions when things go wrong rather than looking for who to blame can all boost creativity. This paves the way for ground-breaking and transformative advancements in the creative industry. This will also create an industry where people want to work and one where people can see themselves working in the industry for many years. What is one action that you could take that helps constructive feedback and creativity to thrive? If you want support for how your project or workplace can foster a culture based on constructive feedback contact us at Creatives in Mind for workshops on this topic and project consultation.

creativity reduced by criticism

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