Mastering the Art of Asking for, Receiving, and Responding to Feedback

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Feedback is a crucial component of professional growth, but we’ve all encountered feedback that left us scratching our heads. Recently, I stumbled upon an insightful episode of the “Storytelling with Data” podcast by Cole Nussbaumer. It delved into the nuances of asking for and receiving feedback, sparking my own reflections on how I approach feedback on projects. Let’s explore some key takeaways from that episode.

1. Choosing the Right Feedback Provider and Timing

Before seeking feedback, consider who you should approach and the project’s stage at which you seek their input. Think about their familiarity with the project and their availability within your feedback timeline. Should the client be engaged from the outset, or is it better to involve them once the project has matured?

2. Stage of Feedback Request

The stage of your project matters. For instance, when requesting feedback on a report’s layout, consider sketching or blocking out the page’s elements without adding excessive detail. Over-polished work may discourage candid feedback on design and layout.

3. Specify What You Seek Feedback On

Don’t hesitate to guide your reviewers by specifying the elements you want them to focus on. If you’re adhering to a particular color palette or have non-negotiable elements like specific graphs, quotes, or logos, communicate this to your reviewers.

4. Provide Context for Design Choices

If your design deviates from the norm or includes unconventional elements, explain your rationale to reviewers. For instance, if you place a legend for a graph using narrative instead of within the graph, clarify this choice to avoid misunderstandings.

Dealing with Vague Feedback

If you receive feedback like, “It’s missing something. I don’t like the layout. This isn’t what I had in mind,” consider asking clarifying questions:

  • Can you provide examples of what you were expecting?
  • What elements do you find distracting?
  • Do you have any specific questions or concerns I can address?

Being deliberate in who you approach for feedback, what you ask for, and when you seek feedback can transform it into a valuable, actionable tool, benefitting both you and your reviewers.

For deeper insights, I recommend listening to the full podcast episode titled “Feedback You Hate to Receive.”

In conclusion, the art of feedback hinges on effective communication, context, and openness to refinement. Mastering this art can elevate your professional journey and foster growth and collaboration.