Delivering Feedback That Won’t Elicit an Eye Roll

Ewan Roxburgh
April 6, 2021
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Delivering feedback that doesn’t strain your working relationships is a balancing act.

You’re sensitive. I’m sensitive. We’re all sensitive. Whilst intellectually we may recognise we’re human, fallible and imperfect and more limited than we are exceptional, on an emotional level, if we’re putting a piece of ourselves out into the world, we really want it to be loved. We resist criticism and tend to be reflexively defensive. What do we do about it? How do you deliver feedback?

At Creativa, closely collaborating as we do, we’re frequently offering each other advice on our work. Doing so, we like to think we’ve become experts at delivering feedback. Hence, we thought we’d offer some advice on providing useful feedback without infuriating your colleagues.

Know your context when offering advice

These tips are for work. If you’re trying to tell your in-laws how to cook a better meal or wanting to give your teenager some handy hints about how to manage their time – good luck and may you rest in peace. But if you’re at work and you have to give feedback, know that it is possible to not self-annihilate.

Keep your ego in check

Remember that, at least in theory, you and the other party are both working towards the best result for the work. This means egos have to stay out of it. We all want to protect our selves but if we’re not identified with the work then the work is fair game.

Stay focused on the prize

Focus on your common goal. You and the other party both agreed to aim towards a certain outcome. You feel that what the other party has presented does not quite achieve that mutually agreed to in advance outcome. Thinking about this way takes the focus off the individuals and puts it back on the work.

Offer constructive solutions with your feedback

Try to package your communication about what’s missing with one or two constructive solutions or suggestions keeping in mind that, if you’re not equally as expert in whatever the discipline of the person you’re talking to, you’re more likely to be able to identify a problem than you are a solution.

Deliver feedback with empathy

It’s true that some people are better at taking feedback than others, but even the most secure among us need only introspect far enough to find our own sacred cows and so, when faced with the circumstance of having to give someone the kind of feedback they’re really not going to want, we ought to be able to empathise.

Be humble with your feedback

Remember, the goal is to hash out what’s true. Orient yourself according to a higher, common ideal: the project. That and, maintain a healthy awareness of the possibility that you could be wrong or that the other person might know something you don’t. You’re sensitive, fragile and vulnerable just like everyone else, so be nice.

Want to put some of these tips into practise and work with a video and animation team that helps bring your vision to life? Work with us!

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