Giving and receiving feedback is not always easy. Have you ever received a comment about your work that gave you a lump in the throat? Or perhaps you have been on the other side, trying to help a colleague, by pointing out weaknesses in their work, and then they take it personally and start defending themselves instead of listening?
By understanding and implementing a few fundamental principles, feedback can become something you don’t have to dread. It can be something to look forward to instead. Read along to learn more!
First, it’s important to remember why you’d want to comment on others’ work. No, it’s not to make you look smart or humiliate your colleague. It’s to make the product better, together. Always keep this in mind!
There are a ton of systems and rules for giving good feedback out there. I always come back to the simple rule of thumb that I learned back in the day, when studying journalism in Denmark.
Translated into English, we could call it the three C’s:
Be Concrete, Constructive, and Caring!
It’s important to remember why you’d want to comment on others’ work. No, it’s not to make you look smart or humiliate your colleague. It’s to make the product better, together.
Being concrete or specific is extremely important, when giving feedback.
If you are helping with a video or a presentation, for example, tell exactly what clip or point you are talking about. If you are commenting on a text, then show exactly what sentence you are referring to.
While it’s okay to tell how the text affected you, how you felt while reading it and if it made you want to buy the product, it doesn’t help the writer, if she doesn’t understand what exactly worked and why. In the end, a creator cannot really use that type of feedback for much more than a pad on the shoulder or a kick in the behind.
If you really want to improve the product, then being concrete, specific, and concise is the way to go! Point out exactly what sentences work and which ones could be improved and remember to tell why.
That headline is great.
By using the word “you” in the headline, I feel like you are talking directly to the reader, which works well in this context.
When you’ve specifically pointed out what part of the product you are talking about, it’s time to be constructive. By this, I mean that you should come with suggestions as to how the work could become even better.
If something doesn’t work, try to analyse why, and propose what might work better. “Could you present the person already here, so we know whom we are talking about later? How about you start with that anecdote about the dog, instead of saving it for the end of the presentation? You could collect all the facts and numbers in a box to make the structure simpler,” and so on. You probably get the idea.
Remember to also highlight positive parts of the product in a constructive way: “Your landscape descriptions work well, thanks to your use of active verbs. You could consider adding descriptions here and here and there” (suggest exactly where you’d like more of it).
The beginning of your presentation was boring.
I think you could catch your audience’s attention better, if you start with that joke about the president.
Just be nice, okay!? Remember that we are talking about another human being’s creations.
How would you feel if you were in their shoes? Exposing your creative product to others can be a very vulnerable place to be in. So please be understanding, friendly and respectful. Then add a little extra friendliness, and you’re good to go!
You are shit and so is your work.
Thanks for letting me see your work and help you make it even better.
Bonus C: Chew and spit out
And then one last piece of advice for you, when you are at the receiving end of feedback: Just listen, take the feedback in, chew it, and spit the bits you cannot use out again.
Remember, it’s not personal – which also means that you don’t need to defend yourself! In the end, the product is your creation, so you do probably know best.
If you share a common goal of making the best possible product, and the person who is giving you feedback, does it in a concrete, constructive and caring way, then giving and getting response can be something to look forward to!
Happy feedback giving – and receiving!
If you need a second pair of eyes on your text, presentation, or visuals, then we at Tulus are ready to give you concrete, constructive and caring feedback!