Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Art of Healthy Feedback: Part II - How To Give It

Part II of a two-part series on asking for and giving healthy feedback. While both pieces are focused on writing and other creative pursuits, they can easily be adapted to the many situations in our lives when we are giving or seeking help or advice.

1. Be Nurturing.
Remember, the only reason to offer feedback is to support the writer and his or her work. This is not a test of your ability to pick out flaws. Don’t be smart. Be gentle. Don’t show off. Be fair.

2. Be Balanced.
Always begin with the positive -- with what you like about the piece, with its strengths, with what works for you. With that foundation of support, you can then offer constructive comments. Remember, you can say anything you feel called to say about the work, as long as you frame it with respect and compassion.

3. Be Specific.
You’re at your most helpful when you can offer examples from the text of what works and what doesn’t. Be clear.

4. Be Respectful.
Give only the type and level of feedback the writer has sought. If there are other elements you would like to comment on, ask permission. Respect the answer you get.

5. Be Compassionate.
Remember the Golden Rule of Feedback: “Speak unto others in the manner you would have them speak unto you.” Put yourself in the writer’s shoes and offer feedback as you would prefer to receive it.

How not to give feedback....

"Why don't you write books people can read?"

~ Nora Joyce, to her husband James

• How can you listen more clearly to the nature of the feedback being requested of you?

• How can you be clearer in the feedback you offer?

• How can you be more respectful of the work and its author, offering feedback that doesn't show how smart you are but, instead serves the needs and growth of the writer and his/her work? 

The Art of Healthy Feedback: A Two-Part Series

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson 

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Photo: James & Nora Joyce, 1915 -- Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

1 comment:

River Jordan said...

Very sound advice Mark. Thank you very much for Part II. Oftentimes, I'll read someone's work and totally misunderstand what they are getting at. I have to step back and think about it for a while. It usually helps me.

Thanks again.