Feedback, a reflection on our work

Positive feedback is always music to our ears: great work, perfect phrasing, the customer is really happy. Naturally, we’re over the moon. But what happens if people start asking questions about the text or even complain about it? A feeling of dejection. Be honest: it’s not exactly pleasant. But freelance proofreaders, copywriters and specialist translators can learn how to deal with feedback.

graphic positive feedback

Mirror on the wall

If you look feedback up in a dictionary, you will find it described as advice, criticism or information about how good or useful something or somebody’s work is. And this kind of reaction to our work is of immense value to professionals. We can only hope to know whether we are on the right track – whether in our professional or our private lives – if we get feedback.

Don’t be disheartened by critical feedback. Take a deep breath, get yourself a nice warm milky coffee and look at the feedback in detail.

Regardless of whether the feedback is about texts or about specialist translations:

  • We stay calm and keep our emotions in check.
  • We think about whether in fact the criticism is justified.
  • Language is subjective. When a customer gives feedback, it is not meant in a derogatory way but reflects the individual feeling and desires of the particular person.
  • Any feedback from a customer also demonstrates their appreciation: we are so important to that person that they want to tell us what their impression is. And they want to work with us again, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth the trouble of sending the feedback in the first place.
  • We put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. Are the stress and the pressure of expectation within the company particularly high? Does the task involve writing a tricky press release, is the company going through reorganisation? This can all have an effect on the feedback.
  • As freelance proofreaders, copywriters and specialist translators, we want to support our customers as best we can. The longer we know them and their preferences, the easier that becomes.
  • Maybe it is a misunderstanding? Then we can clear the matter up together.

What effect does feedback have on our body?

Feedback often triggers a powerful response. Praise warms our hearts, whereas criticism leads to the release of stress hormones. Our pulse suddenly starts racing, we are tense and act rashly. Something we have inherited from our forefathers whose lives depended on reacting quickly to external influences.

  • Our body’s reaction is an instinctive one.
  • At first, we can hardly do anything to prevent it.
  • But the level of adrenalin usually drops again quickly and frees the mind for an objective approach to the subject.
  • It usually helps if you walk around a little and consciously breathe in and out slowly.

Feedback spurs you on

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The positive Anglo-Saxon view stops us feeling hurt or offended. You’re bound to have developed ways of dealing with and learning from feedback, for example:

  • We don’t react immediately but wait until we have calmed down before we answer.
  • We take the feedback seriously and don’t feel that we have been attacked personally.
  • As freelance proofreaders, copywriters and specialist translators, we remember that the customer is always right. We adapt our work to suit their desires.
  • And we look forward to the next positive feedback.

Feedback in the cultural sector

Creative artists come up against feedback at every turn. Whether they are actors, musicians, lighting specialists or work in costumes: more or less sensitive comments from the director, production manager, conductor and colleagues are inevitable. Some particularly dramatic anecdotes do the rounds in artistic circles. The ranting of cult director Fritz Lang in the Hollywood of the 1950s was both legendary and dreaded.

Film, theatre and literature live from the reaction of the audience and the press – sometimes flattering, often in the form of a polished slating. There’s only one thing worse: if their work is ignored.

  • People working in the cultural sphere have a hard time with negative feedback.
  • But they accept it as part of their work.
  • And they try even harder to be successful in their next project.

What can we, as language service providers, learn from creative artists when it comes to dealing with feedback? It’s hard if we don’t get the feedback we think we deserve. But if we accept that it is part and parcel of our job, we will make life easier for ourselves and others. If we don’t get any feedback about our work, we can’t really grow. So it can actually be helpful to ask for feedback proactively. After all, we are all ambitious, and qualified feedback encourages us to surpass ourselves and deliver even better work during our next assignment.

Tactful feedback

As freelancers, we sometimes have to praise or criticise someone. Whereas you can’t really go wrong when you are praising someone, you have to be careful when being critical. How can we get someone to make a positive change?

  • We never give feedback spontaneously, we always reflect on what we are going to say.
  • We try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and both predict and understand their reaction.
  • We don’t react oversensitively if the first reaction to our feedback does not meet our expectations.
  • If there is any misunderstanding, we are happy to clarify things.
  • We see feedback as being successful if the reactions lead to something being changed for the better and both sides see this as being positive.
  • We avoid the word “but”. So, we don’t say: “Your work is good, but …”. No, we prefer to say: “Your work is good. Maybe try to change something here.”
  • We always show our counterpart esteem, regardless of the feedback.

Did you find our hints handy? Or do you have any other top tips of your own that you’d like to share with us? Feel free to email us at We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Achieving goals together

  • A reliable partner

    It’s very easy to process jobs in our portal myFREELANCE and you can look forward to punctual, monthly payments.
  • Your link to Apostroph

    With Apostroph, you will have personal contact with our project management employees. They will answer your questions and help you process your orders.
  • The Apostroph community

    A lively exchange, exciting and entertaining contributions in the Language Lounge and continuing education opportunities are what make our community what it is.