How To

How to Give Feedback and Why Yours Sucks

blog post with many annotations

Do you know how to give feedback?

“Your design is dreadful, reminiscent of the black malodorous ichor that oozes forth from decaying animal matter.”

That’s a rather egregious example of unproductive feedback. It does absolutely no good to simply smash your colleagues’ designs. It may be good fun, but it’s not conducive to a functional and friendly work environment.

So how to give feedback in a constructive way?

1 – Start with the good

Ply them with compliments when you give feedback. Flatter them. This does two things. First, it puts you in a positive state of mind by forcing you to look for stuff you like. Second, it makes whoever’s receiving the feedback feel comfortable. It helps them open up and puts them in a receptive state of mind.

2 – Destroy them

Once they’ve opened up, smash them into powder. Use every ounce of your creativity and talent to eviscerate them. Leave them an empty, hopeless shell. No, kidding. Don’t do that when you give feedback. Definitely not.

2 – (Really) Make suggestions

Instead of simply pointing out what you don’t like, suggest ways to improve their work. Perhaps a thinner font? Maybe a heavier line weight? Be specific and constructive.

3 – Provide examples

Show them the stuff you like. Find examples of sites, photos, illustrations, even music that will help them get back on track. Sometimes it may even be helpful to create a mini mood board filled with inspiration when you sit down to give feedback.

4 – Don’t overdo it

Too much feedback can be overwhelming. It can sap motivation and slow forward momentum. Keep your feedback to a minimum to keep the project moving forward.

It all seems like an awful lot of work just to give feedback, but it’s worth it. Constructive feedback improves creative collaboration and ultimately leads to better designs. Also, your coworkers won’t ambush you in the parking garage, throw a sack over your head, and dump you in the river.

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