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The ugly truth about asking for feedback …

People don’t like to be asked.

They especially don’t like it if you have more power in your relationship than they do.

You’re putting them in a difficult position. How can they be critical of you?

And yet, how do you know whether what you have written or presented is good or needs improvement if you don’t get opinions from other people?

What you need to be able to improve is proper, constructive criticism. You need someone who can explain where your writing (or presenting) can be improved AND how to improve it. The only way to get that is to ask for feedback from someone you trust who you think is better than you at writing/presenting.

Except I am saying do not ask for feedback. Instead, ask for advice. Saying to your boss, colleague, friend, whoever, “can you give me some advice on how to improve this report/letter/email/presentation/etc” is less threatening to the other person.

Not only is it more positive in tone, I have found it works better. At the end of teaching a class, when I ask the class for advice they are more willing to talk to me than when I ask for feedback.

If you are in a leadership role then you get two benefits from this approach. First, there is more chance of a member of your team saying something that helps you improve. Secondly, you are modelling a positive behaviour for your team to adopt.

I recommend you give this tip a try next time you are writing something and want the input from somebody else.

And feel free to get in touch with me if you would like my advice on how to improve what you have written.

Gary Bandy Limited is a company registered in Cardiff, number 5660437.

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