August 17, 2010 Off

Creative Differences

By in Advertising, Design

It’s no surprise that the advertising industry is full of egos. A company full of creative minds is bound to have some friction from time to time when ideas don’t agree. And of course some of those stereotypes about creative people are true – that they can be overly passionate and attached to their own ideas, unwilling to listen to others and certain that their way is best. However stomping your feet up and down till you get your way is no way to act on the job, no matter how tempting the idea may be. Believe me, I know how crappy it feels to get your ideas dismissed, laughed at or have someone else come along and tell you how it would be way better this way. So here are some pointers for all those times you need to stand your ground while remaining professional.

First of all, recognize that differences of opinion and ideas are a natural part of life. That’s actually what makes life interesting. Imagine if everyone loved every half-baked idea that came out of your mouth. That would be pretty boring. The differences are there for a reason – to offer you a new perspective, to open your eyes, to challenge you.

Respect others. When someone else comes along and has a different direction in mind, it’s real easy to shut your brain off and stop listening. Try opening your eyes, ears and mind to a new possibility and really listen when they speak. Find the good in what they are saying. Even if the concept doesn’t work as a whole, I’m willing to bet that if you try you will find something great about their idea.

Stop taking things personally. When someone doesn’t like your idea or finds a flaw in the concept you came up with, that’s not about you. That’s just about the idea that happened to strike your mind instead of someone else’s, and if it doesn’t work then it just doesn’t work, simple as that. An old high school English teacher of mine used to tell us “You must murder your darlings.” This is a succinctly morbid way of saying – stop clinging on to every little word and idea that you love. These are not your babies, they are just some words that floated through your mind – and guess what? They’re not on limited supply. Creativity is a realm we could explore infinitely. There’s no shortage of good ideas in this world. Keep that in mind and soon you’ll quit hanging on to ideas that don’t work and open yourself to a world of amazing ones.

Don’t fuel the fire. It’s inevitable. Sooner or later you WILL have to work with someone who is difficult, frustrating, always wrong, and always thinks they’re right. But when it comes to someone (whether they’re a co-worker or client) who gets angry easily and is quick to lose their temper, you losing yours back won’t solve a thing. In fact, I’ve found the opposite works. If you’re really understanding, calm and overly nice to someone who’s losing their cool, they tend to simmer down pretty quickly. It’s hard to stay angry when someone’s genuinely pleasant; sooner or later they just start to feel silly.

Lastly, know where to draw the line. Of course you should try to bridge the gap and avoid heated conflicts. But if no matter what you do things always seem to escalate and you feel like you’re borderline being verbally abused when you open your mouth, then it might be time to throw in the towel. When things are unbearable or you can’t handle the conflict or stress you’re being caused, simply ask to be transferred to a different team or project and cite creative differences as the reason for the request. Creative differences are very common in the ad industry; what’s uncommon is knowing how to deal with those differences. Do your best to express your ideas while being respectful and others will respect you just the same.

About: Ian:
Hi, I'm Ian T. I'm a York grad and a copywriter for Eden Advertising. I'm the master of procrastinating. I like to use parentheses (sometimes). I love the LCBO because wine makes me happy. I don't blog, I capture moments in time.

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