I’m working on a writing project with a geographically distributed team. We all have full-time paying jobs and this is a professional project with no monetary compensation.
We worked as an agile team, in iterations, pairing, helping each other write the best expression of our ideas. We turned over our draft and waited for copyediting feedback.
What we got was not what we expected. Okay, that happens sometimes. And, when it’s happened to me before, I provide page numbers and/or section numbers with my comments and explain what’s wrong.
I did that here. That’s not the feedback the people in charge wanted me to provide. I think they wanted a rubber stamp of, “I approve.” Not from me! Instead, they asked us to fill out a spreadsheet of page number, paragraph number, original text and the suggested change.
When someone asks me for feedback, doesn’t tell me how they want the feedback, and then creates a time-intensive approach for me to provide feedback, I’m not so sure they want the feedback.
In fact, I’m pretty sure they didn’t want feedback.
This is one example where I tried to provide feedback that was not wanted. I am sure we all have times when we don’t want feedback from others.
Here’s another example. I had just finished a conference talk. Several people waited for me to be free to speak with them about my talk. One woman in line told me she had a list of things I could improve. No, I had not asked for that kind of feedback! I asked her to send them to me in email or give me her list. I was not yet ready to hear the feedback.
“How can you not be ready to hear feedback from me?” she asked. She sounded a little offended.
“Because I didn’t ask you for feedback and I want to talk to these other people in line,” I said.
“Well, I don’t have the time to email you my feedback,” she said. She flounced off, huffing as she walked.
Like I said, sometimes we don’t want feedback.
When people ask me for feedback, I provide what I think they ask for. In my writing workshops, I often ask writers what kind of feedback they want from me. When it comes to writing feedback, all of us have found it helpful to specify our feedback desires in advance.
I rarely want feedback right after a talk. I’m not ready to hear it. If I had great audience interaction, that’s often enough feedback for me. If I haven’t had great audience interaction, I want to wallow in my belief that I did a bad job before I see the feedback. (The feedback is often not about my talk, but about the audience’s inability to concentrate on one thing at a time. Sometimes, it’s about me…)
You might not want feedback now. You might not want feedback ever.
On the other hand, if you say you want feedback, be prepared to receive feedback. You get to choose when you receive feedback. And, if you must specify how, please do specify how in advance.
Dear adaptable leaders, that is the question of the week: Do you want feedback?
- How Do You Create Trust?
- Who is the Change For?