I enjoy watching how people give feedback, whether verbally or in writing.
While there are some particular sensitive topics which may be difficult to broach, I spend much of my life engaged in, I suppose, average feedback.
Feedback on the logistics of an event, feedback on writing content or style, feedback on opinions. Sometimes I’m giving the feedback and sometimes I getting the feedback.
And there’s a really interesting balance here.
While presumably most people are not in favor of cruel feedback – you are stupid and I hate your face – I find I am sometimes also, though perhaps not equally frustrated, in overly kind feedback.
I mean, I appreciate the sentiment, but sometimes I just want a person to tell it like it is – not to hedge their opinions with unnecessary expressions intended to spare my feelings.
Building, perhaps, on the idea that we are all terrible people, I believe that all of us have room for improvement. And I like to think that feedback from others helps make us each a little better.
Of course, this can be complicated by that instinct which tells you that the person who disagrees with you is an idiot – but its probably good to listen to their feedback anyway. To try to understand it. To try to understand them.
Ultimately, you may decide you still like your way better, but the self evaluation spurned by feedback is critical.
It is a fine line, though. Just because we can all improve by feedback doesn’t mean it’s always easy to hear.
So yes, be kind to those you appropriately criticize. But also know that you don’t have to dance around too much – tell it like it is, but, perhaps, with a little grace along the way.