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Feedback conveys information about behavior and aims to help point out its strengths and weaknesses. With the help of that evaluation, someone can understand better what is running on their work, what isn’t and how to improve it.
It might be easy to take these criticisms too personally. When someone says that your work, in which you spent hours and days to no end on perfecting it, is trash and should be done from scratch all over again, they speak of the work, not you. Still, you can’t help but feel frustration and annoyance and really be down just thinking that all that time and dedication put on perfecting something were not validated. And, if your work is not approved, you feel useless.
Sure that your first reaction will try to be defending with tooth and nails what you did and probably dismiss everything that the person is saying because, either you think that they don’t have experience in your area of work and they have no clue what they are saying or asking for, or you think that your side and vision probably is the only true way of doing something.
Stop a minute.
Take a deep breath.
How to receive feedback?
The first step to receive this kind of feedback is to shelve your emotions, listen to what the other one is saying and ask specific questions:
- Why do you think it is bad?
- What elements, in your opinion, are not working here?
- Can you tell me more of what you think of this particular element?
- How does it make you feel? What do you think it represents?
- Do you think that it makes sense to have this element in this place, or this size or this color with this specific aspect?
Beware the tone of your voice and body language when asking these direct and specific questions. The key is to just listen to what the other person has to say, absorb what is relevant, improve your work, and thank them for the feedback given.
This way, the other person will feel that they are being heard and their opinions are being considered. You also get to know better what is working or not with a fresh new pair of eyes.
If the person is just saying mean things just for the “trolls,” or doesn’t know what to say, or even refuses to collaborate in this back and forth exchange of information… You thank them for their comment and end the discussion there. That type of “information” holds no value to you nor your work.
If many people point out the same problem in your work with similar justifications, you can consider it and use it as a way to find the best solution to fix what is amiss or doesn’t work.
The greatest thing about working with a team is to have different types of people – with different backgrounds – contributing their opinions and points of view to the project and, in the end, learn from it and improve yourself with it all.
At the end of the day, taking and giving criticism passes through a layer of trust and understanding of each other’s emotional wavelength. It’s letting others speak their opinion, match their tone and energy. Doing this might lead you to talk with grumpy people (remain passive and not exalt them too much), or even quiet people who feel confused and don’t know what to say. Read these final key points for both sides.
For those who will give feedback
Remember that the other person probably invested their time and resources to do something you are criticizing. Additionally, no one likes to hear that all of that was useless because the work is now being taken to the ground. Thus, if you want to give some kind of feedback, follow this:
- Focus your criticism on behavior or the project being evaluated, not the person itself: never be stuck on what you think you know about the person or what you think they are. You are there to point out problems related to behavior or project, so avoid being accusatory by using “I” when pointing out those problems instead of “you.”
- Balance your content: start by saying what you think is working on someone’s project or behavior. Then, point out what you think didn’t work and what possible solutions could help improve it. This will encourage the person, and make them feel that their time was well invested, and feel happier to step up to the challenge to make things even better. Think of this as a “Feedback Sandwich.”
- Be specific: avoid giving general comments that are of little use to the receiver and add nothing or little to their work. Try to point out exactly what you think won’t work, what might work and need improvement on their project/behavior. Alternatively, show examples to illustrate your statement for the receiver to understand better what can be done. Otherwise, the receiver will remain confused, frustrated and won’t hear what you have to say.
- Be realistic: remember that feedback should focus on what can be changed. It is frustrating for people to get comments on something that is beyond their control. Especially when you ask to do something from scratch and the other person is under time constraints.
- Own the feedback: feedback is your opinion and your evaluation of something. Therefore, always give feedback using the pronoun “I” instead of “they/you.” Avoid using words like “always” and “never” since people’s behavior isn’t that consistent.
- Be timely: if you have something to say, say it immediately, or seek the perfect moment to give the feedback. If you delay, the person who will receive it will start to feel guilty and resentful because the time they had to make all the necessary changes has passed. Additionally, if the feedback you must give is primarily negative, structure very well how you will say or write, and in which order. Remember these steps.
- Offer continuing support: giving feedback should be a continuous act, so let the receiver know that you have time for their questions, and you are available to give feedback in the future if they need it. You can also send an email or do a quick summary of the meeting of your feedback to help the other person retain the important information.
For those who are receiving the feedback
Ever heard of the phrase “Fail Fast!”? It means that it is best to have something rough at the early stages of the project, to show it to the people around to get a gist of what can remain and what needs to be improved. When receiving feedback, remember these points:
- Listen to the other person: active listening to the person giving you advice. Do not interrupt them, no matter how badly you want to defend your work. It is of utmost importance to focus your attention on listening and understanding what they say and not assuming they are telling you. Don’t jump to conclusions and be stuck on defense or focus only on your response. Feedback is meant to help you improve and grow.
- Beware of your responses: just like the person giving the feedback, the way you talk, how you move the way you show your attention will affect how the other person will react to it. Suppose you pay attention to the other person. In that case, the other will feel that their opinion is being validated and taken into consideration, making them feel more comfortable helping you out.
- Be open: even if you think the other person doesn’t know what they are talking about because they haven’t got any experience in your area, it is crucial to be receptive to different ideas and different points of view. There are multiple ways of doing something, and receiving these other takes on a given topic will help enrich your work and improve your behavior as well.
- Understand the message: make sure you understand what is being said to you before responding. Don’t be afraid of asking questions to help you clarify something that you didn’t understand. Repeat the key points of the feedback to make sure you understand the message. You can also take the initiative and ask your teammates for feedback on a specific topic, which will help them focus their attention on analyzing it and giving you their direct opinion.
- Reflect and understand what to do: assess the value of the feedback and comprehend the consequences of ignoring it or following through with it. It is your choice to know what to do with the feedback given once you evaluate the situation. If you choose to ignore it, try to look for a second opinion. This is how you will learn from your mistakes, accept them, and improve upon them.
- Be proactive and follow up: you can try some of the suggestions and show back the ones you think work best for people to continue giving their opinion about it.
At Angry Ventures, we love to give and receive feedback because it makes us grow. Can you provide us with feedback too?