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7 Ways To Give Great Feedback

7 Ways To Give Great Feedback

Sharing an opinion, especially a negative one, can be challenging. When your friend asks you to give them feedback or clearly needs some feedback on something you’re suddenly in a position where you have to share a lot of opinions, often negative ones. Make sure you know how to deliver criticism thoughtfully, efficiently, and respectfully. You can give good feedback by doing these seven things:

1. Do it early

Don’t wait until it’s too late to give feedback. The sooner you can tell someone that something they’re doing needs work, the more time your friend has to improve at it. Don’t wait until your friend is almost done with their thousand-page novel to tell them that it’s not worth pursuing. Don’t wait for a person to make a big mistake to tell them that they’re on a dangerous path. It can be uncomfortable to deliver criticism, but if you wait too long it could become too late.

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2. Avoid shaming

Sometimes (or a lot of the time) what you’re giving feedback on, whether it be a piece of work or a behavior, sucks. In fact, if they asked you for the feedback they probably did it so that they could hear someone else confirm what they already think: that it sucks. But absolutely do not tell them that it sucks. Be honest with your criticism but also be gracious. The last thing you should do is make your friend regret asking your opinion.

3. Focus on behavior

Adverbs are your friend. Instead of telling someone they are bad at what they’re asking feedback on, tell them what they can do to be better. You’re not critiquing them, you’re critiquing something they did.

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4. Stay on your side of the net

If you review a book, you’re not the writer. If you give feedback on a drawing, you’re not the artist. If you’re critiquing someone’s attitude, you aren’t that person. Remember to stand your ground when you’re giving a review but not to cross any boundaries either. Bad criticism is telling people to write like you’d write, draw what you’d draw, act exactly like you act, etc. You might think you know the right way to do something, but remember that everything is subjective. You want to bring out the best out in them, not make them more like you.

5. Be generous

Universal negativity is not good feedback. Would you value the opinion of someone who thought everything you did was terrible? No, because a critique needs balance. Even if it’s difficult, find something you appreciate amidst the dreck. It’s very helpful to end your review with a compliment or two so that you are closing on a positive note.

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6. Speak to the person’s interests

Deliver your critique the way it will be best absorbed. Sounds obvious, but too many people treat the critique as if they’re giving it for themselves. Make interesting comparisons that are relevant to the reviewee. Compare the positive attributes of what you’re critiquing to something he likes, and compare the negative aspects to things that he also thinks negatively of. If your friend loves Michael Bay movies, it won’t help to say that his script suffers the same problems as the Transformers movies. If they idolize a negative influence, don’t tell them that they’re becoming more like that person. Phrase your argument with consideration for your audience.

7. Practice

With practice comes improvement. Even if you follow the six previous tips, you will continue to grow as a reviewer as you give more feedback. That’s how it works. Giving great feedback is a fine art that can’t just be distilled into six easy steps. As you practice more you will learn when you should say something and when you should shut your trap. Over time, it gets easier.

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Featured photo credit: dsa66503 via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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