We’ve all taken the time to create work that matters to us. Maybe it’s work that we have already put out into the world. Or it could be something that we haven’t put out there yet, but intend to.
For example, it could be:
Whatever it was you shipped out into the world or intend to ship out, we all know the valuable role that feedback has on providing the positive criticism needed to better ourselves or improve on what we created.
On the flip side of the coin, it is natural that we want to be seen and valued for the work we do. It is human instinct to want to belong, feel a part of the tribe so to speak, or be impactful.
We can often go through our days, receiving nothing but “Good Jobs!”. However, when we are actually confronted with any type of criticism in regards to our work, it can sting causing us to retreat into our own defensive shell of protection. This is because we haven’t exercised our feedback muscle enough.
According to Boston College psychologist, Dr. Peter Gray:
“It’s important to recognize that it’s human nature not to want unsolicited negative advice. We don’t want people to tell us something negative unless we ask for it and are ready to hear it. It’s helpful to put ourselves constantly in the place of asking for and being willing to receive feedback.”
There are days when we might not be in the right head space to receive feedback. When putting our work out into the world and asking for feedback, assess to what extent you actually want it. Is it more praise you are looking for in that moment rather than feedback?
If so, here’s an idea. When sharing your work with others, simply ask any of the following questions:
“What is it that you like most about this?"
“What is it that you think is most helpful about this?”
"What is the one thing that stands out the most to you about this?"
"What is your favorite thing about this?"
This may be seeking only praise, but at least you will know right away, the value of your work as seen by others.
If you are actually going to ask for feedback, you must make that specifically clear by asking questions such as:
“Rather than looking at what you like about this, how might I make it better?”
“How would you change, modify, or tweak what I’ve created in order for it to have more impact?”
"What's one thing I haven't thought of here?"
"What is one thing that is missing?"
"If you could change one thing about it, what would you change?"
There is a distinct difference between asking for praise and asking for feedback. In wording your question in a way that demonstrates a wholehearted effort to seek critical feedback, you give complete permission to the other person to be honest. You let them know you value their time and that it is actual feedback you are looking for not praise.
Practice asking these specific types of questions when you put your work out into the world. It helps you to be very clear and intentional about what it is you are after.
If you are after only praise, be specific.
If you want critical feedback be even more specific.
Taking on this approach will better honor other people and the time they are wiling to invest in giving you what you want. Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.