How to not take things personally as a designer? | by Mary Borysova | Feb, 2024


On a tactical level, defensiveness is easiest to spot if you monitor your body and emotions.

That tightness in your chest, willing to close up, or quite the opposite — tense muscles and increased heartbeat might signal you need to breathe in and listen calmly instead of reacting emotionally. You may start feeling irritated by another person or agitated, raising your voice or changing intonation.

If you catch yourself behaving emotionally, or raising your voice during the communication, stop for a second. Take a deep breath in.

There is no way how communication can keep being efficient and enjoyable if you are in a defensive mode. You need to calm down and return your thoughts to the goal of the communication. I have written more on communication strategies during conflicts.

Our thoughts and even emotions in each conflict situation are our choices. Certainly, many other people would feel and think differently about the same case. This means that your emotions are not the only valid way to experience this situation and you are in control to change them.

Put yourself back in control by asking yourself:

1. What am I feeling now? Why?

2. Which thoughts lead to these emotions?

3. Can I challenge these thoughts? Are they objective?

Does it offer specific and actionable suggestions for improvement, or is it just negative? Is the feedback delivered with respect and empathy, or is it aggressive, insulting, or belittling?

Constructive feedback:

  • Focuses on the work, not the creator: suggests specific improvements for the interface, user experience, or functionality.
  • Offers actionable steps: proposes changes that can be implemented to address the issue.


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