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How To Give Better Feedback

Whether it’s a performance review for one of your direct reports, the latest logo redesign mockup from your in-house agency or even just a friend’s request that you take a look at her resume, everyday opportunities to provide feedback are plentiful.

Be specific

There are miles of difference between “This headline looks off” and “I think a heavier weight font would be a better choice here." The best feedback is concrete feedback that clearly identifies what the issues are and proposes actionable suggested solutions so that the recipient can see where the path to improvement lies.

Pick your feedback battles

Too much feedback, even if it’s well-intentioned, can be overwhelming and leave the recipient feeling as if they can’t do anything right. Instead, choose to prioritize the points of your critique and focus on those that have the most impact on the final product. Ask yourself, out of all suggestions I could offer, what’s most pressing and most helpful?

Understand expectations

To avoid needless frustration and confusion, make sure to clarify the type of feedback the recipient is seeking so you can tailor your critique accordingly. Are they looking for a quick once over to spot typos or a deep developmental edit? Are you commenting on version 1 or version 26? Are you expected to offer last-minute tweaks or to shape the overall direction of the project? Answering questions like these and understanding what your role is as a reviewer allows you to offer feedback that aligns with the recipient’s creative process.

Be positive

Opening yourself and your work up for judgment is pretty uncomfortable for most of us, no matter how strong our egos. As the one charged with providing the feedback, part of your job is to motivate the other party to improve their performance. End your feedback session on a positive note, so that the recipient leaves the interaction feeling energized and enthusiastic about the changes they need to make and not disheartened about how they’ve fallen short.

Giving useful feedback is a skill worth cultivating. Not only does constructive criticism help to improve the recipient’s performance or result in a better final product, delivered with the right blend of empathy, tact and encouragement, it strengthens your relationship with the person who valued your opinion enough to seek it out.

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