Hummm. You’ve got spinach stuck in your teeth

salad

Why giving feedback is so damn hard?

Not too long ago, Joe* reached out to me and asked for my feedback on his latest piece on Medium. No kidding, when I see an email like this, my heart always skips a beat. That’s how much I dread giving feedback.

My fear stems from previous bad experiences. A year ago, I finally gathered up the courage to give a well thought-out feedback to my parents on how I felt I was being treated (a story for another time). The result of my encouragement to step up and share how I felt cost me a destructive relationship with my parents. That is why I have been so fearful of what happens when I share what’s on my mind.

Joe was particularly persistent. He wrote three follow-up emails after his original request. I have a weak spot for persuaders, so I finally gave in and replied to his message, saying that I would take a look.

I’ll be candor here. I couldn’t read past the first three sentences; even that took me a lot of effort. Among other things, the post layout and the title were some of the areas that needed work.

It is a lot easier for me to say it here now, but when I was faced with reality, I opted for this response.

Looks great =) Good luck.

How to ask for feedback

Last week I found myself in the same position as Joe, when I needed some input on my first eCourse on How to get viral on Medium.

As expected, I got a lot of empty feedback. I get it; humans are scared of confrontation, because you don’t know how well the opposite party will take your input.

Will they lash out? Will they say hurtful things back to you in return? Will they ignore you forever like my parents did?

I thought about Joe.

What could Joe have done to create a comfortable and welcoming environment for a feedback giver?

1. Be vulnerable with your feedback giver

It is only when you’ve opened yourself up to your feedback giver that they’re going to open up to you.

It’s a mirroring effect that works surprisingly well. No one is perfect but often we are so afraid of saying that out loud.

When I pointed out the weakness and shortcoming of my eCourse in my outreach emails, I got a flood of feedback.

…Now between you and me, I want this Medium course to work for you. But right now our course still looks a little rugged, rough on the edges, and we couldn’t quite put our fingers on it. Mind if we ask you, as someone with an open and honest mind, if you can give us your raw feedback on our version 1.0 Medium Marketing course…

2. Be nice and not pushy

Remember Joe? He later questioned my input.  

Why didn’t you recommend my post when you said you liked it?

Call me an over-analyzer, but I smelled an unfriendly tone. What would have happened if I’d told him the truth? Would he have cyber-taged (sabotaged) me with long strings of foul language? Possible.

Take baby steps while working with the feedback giver, ask them which part they like about the post, and which part of the post should you work on. There has to be an underlying reason why I didn’t recommend the post, right? Probe slowly with care.

3. Show your appreciation  

By now, you know that constructive feedback is hard to find, so if you find a good feedback giver, be sure to show them your appreciation. It could be a small token like a virtual cup of coffee or offering them your expertise.

No man is an island, all of us have a specific set of skills that we can share and help each other with.

What can be done on the feedback-asker side to make you feel comfortable with sharing your thoughts? Share with me below (seriously).


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