Give feedback.

When we talk of feedback, it is always about receiving it. Like taking it well. Or being poised while receiving negative feedback. Or acting on it. 

Giving feedback isn’t treated as a skill or even a need. This is such a hindrance to good collaboration. Whether you’re a boss or a colleague or even a subordinate, giving feedback openly, honestly and empathically is fundamental at the workplace. 

Here are a few things I keep in mind while giving feedback:

  • Start with contextual observations: Something like, “overall, it reads well, but could you some examples to clarify the case”. Or like a friend once told me, “You describe the scenes so beautifully. But it doesn’t make your central argument strongly enough”.

  • Offer a measurable rating: I’d like to hear, “this is 7 on a scale of 10”. It gives me an understanding of how far I’ve got to go. Remember, not everyone might like this — it might remind them of their high school English teacher. So, use this with discretion.

  • Give suggestions for improvement: ‘Add an example’. ‘Include a quote’. ‘Make the call-to-action stronger’. ‘Change the narrative person’. ‘Reduce the length sentence’. ‘Focus on outcomes’. ‘Give this a subtitle’. Etc.

  • Acknowledge limitations: When I advise on CVs, I tell people clearly that certain industries might need the CV to be a certain way that I don’t know about. Like may be Agile certification is a big deal or having a US visa can give one an upper hand. When I don’t know, I acknowledge it and recommend they get second opinion from someone in the industry.

  • Most of all, earn the right to give feedback: Ask if you may. Ask questions to understand the intent. Ask if they’ve already considered other options and why they didn’t choose that route. If you’re not close to this person, remind them that they have the absolute right to accept or reject your feedback.

But give feedback, when asked. It’s the least you can do.

P.S: Krupa Ge, author and the editor of Silverscreen made these two excellent points (here and here). I had to share.