What if someone asks you for feedback? Maybe you’re in a mastermind, one of your favorite local businesses just screwed up their website (and wants your opinion on it), or just giving a friend a hand with a personal project. Here are 6 steps to get the conversation flowing in the right direction.
NB: This assumes you are having an in-person discussion. If you’re stuck in a crappy feedback form, just do your best, and leave a verbose answer in the comments field. 🙂
Sometimes, people want feedback, and sometimes, people want to vent. There’s a difference – in the former, you give them feedback, in the latter, you sit on our hands and nod appreciatively.
If you aren’t sure which situation you are in, then ask. Here’s a script to make it easy: I’d like to help if I can. Do you want some feedback and advice, or do you just want to get a bit of it off your chest?
You’re probably laughing, but I am serious. I’ve even had people pay me good money for a website critique, and really, they didn’t want the feedback – people are good at lying.
If you don’t check, then likely your feedback recipient will make these common mistakes when taking on board your comments. So, do a double check. Here’s your script: Ok, it sounds like you are really ready for some feedback. But I have to ask, what if you don’t like the feedback? Or worse, that it’s bad feedback but true?
Ok, you are now probably itching to dole out that advice. But one last thing: be responsible and check to make sure you understand the problem/situation.
I’m not a huge fan of the well-known ‘feedback sandwich’ – it’s where you give a good point, followed by the constructive point, followed by a good point. I’ve been doling out advice professionally for almost 20 years, and I find that most people don’t want a sandwich – they just want what they ordered, the filling. So skip the extras, and get to your point.
Once you’ve given the feedback, do a check-in. Ask some simple but thoughtful questions like, did they understand you? Is there a resource or contact you can give them to help facilitate more feedback or forward motion?
In my paid consults, I usually ask “was that helpful,” because they’re a paid service. Not necessary for a more casual interaction.
I like to close off these intense conversations firmly. You can simply just say something like, thank you for the opportunity to help. Or, that’s all I have for now; if things change, or if you need some more feedback, circle back.
This might seem like a lot of steps just to deliver some “sandwich filling” (sorry, couldn’t resist), but giving feedback is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly.