We don't always like to get it. Sometimes we're afraid to hear what others have to say about our work after we've poured our hearts and souls into it. It's hard to separate the blood and tears we shed from the work we've actually produced.
We can't help but take feedback personally. We shouldn't. We all need it. If we're to get any better at our craft, we have to be told what works. More importantly, we have to be told what doesn't and why.
Yet, feedback is one of the most underrated skills in the professional world. It's often ignored – which we can't understand. Good feedback is educational, informative and sparks ideas.
Yet, we don't like getting it and we're not always poised to give it.
Why You Aren't Giving Feedback
There's a reason why we don't readily give feedback besides hurting someone else's ego. We're programmed to believe that criticism flows in one direction — from the top down to us. In school, we're encouraged not to give feedback to other students. As grownups, we expect feedback only from our bosses instead of our peers.
Here's a few other reasons you might not be giving feedback:
- Effective feedback takes work. It's a drag when there's no clear benefit from providing feedback. Giving feedback requires we invest time into a project.
- Feedback is intensely personal. Egos can be bruised. Feedback can be a powder keg, so sometimes we want to avoid being critical.
- Feedback can be boring. For some, it can be a snore. They'd rather create and spew opinions – not helpful feedback.
However, feedback is crucial for people to be satisfied with their work.
Morale Depends on Good Feedback
Morale can't be hammered into people with an off-site retreat. Individuals and teams need continuous feedback so they can thrive, get better. Sometimes that requires hourly feedback as we develop our products.
Designers and developers do their best when feedback is timely, specific and articulate. Contrary to popular belief, both groups actually enjoy regular and consistent feedback. We should give them a healthy dose of positive and negative feedback. Too much praise doesn't improve their work, too much negative is discouraging.
Seek the sweet spot between the two.
But to get that feedback we can't keep our work to ourselves.
Why It's Bad to Keep Ideas to Yourself
Talking, ad nauseum, about your ideas can take the wind out of your sails. You can talk all you want about an idea, but there's nothing like actually making that idea a reality. As the old saying goes, "talk is cheap."
Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the execution that matters. If you keep an idea to yourself, you'll never see it out in the wild. You can talk and talk, and others will tell you how great it is, as Matthias Wagner points out. Which will, as he says, cause you to "loose [sic] the pureness and rawness" of your idea. He suggests building a prototype.
So go forth create a wireframe or code up your idea. Whip up a visual design. Let others see how the idea could be executed.
You shouldn't keep your ideas to yourself. You need to get feedback on them so that you can iterate quickly.
Get Feedback or Fail
Feedback is key to successful designs, successful code and, thus, successful products. The top reason that designs, products and startups fail is that they didn't get the feedback they need. This guide is meant to walk you through:
- Asking for Feedback: To get feedback, we need to pose the right questions and present our designs or code to in a way to solicit feedback.
- Giving Feedback: Feedback should be targeted, actionable and valuable. It needs to answer a question, provide a next step and mustn't waste anyone's time.
- Interpreting Feedback: We have to interpret and prioritize the feedback we receive so that we can iterate.
- The Benefits of Feedback: There are benefits to giving quality feedback as part of the Forrst community. But there's also long-term benefits to you and your craft.
It can be tough to open yourself up to criticism and hard to articulate the feedback you give others. But we need to get feedback or fail. The more we get it and the more we do it, the better our work will become.