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How to Ask for Good Feedback

Mar 3, 2008
Asking for feedback is a great way to get information from others that helps us make improvements on any number of projects or situations.

Recently, I was looking for feedback and asked my peer the following:

"I've attached the two ads that I spoke to you about when we met. If you have a moment, could you please take a look at both and give me your feedback?"

This was her response:

"I do not like either. The image looks very phony to me. But if I have to choose, I would choose the one with the special introductory offer."

Having asked her to clarify what she meant by "phony," so I could find an image that looked "less phony," she responded that she doesn't like stock photography.

It was obvious to me at this point that I wasn't clear regarding the kind of information I wanted from her. This resulted in her giving me her opinion, not constructive feedback.

The purpose of constructive feedback is to provide timely, honest, useful comments and suggestions that contribute to a better process, result or improved behaviours.

I realize now that when I'm asking for feedback, I have to ask specifically for the information I need for the purpose of improving. It's my responsibility to guide them to provide me with the type of information that I seek to make the result better.

Ask Specific Questions, Get Specific Answers
I should have asked specific questions for feedback, such as:

Is the ad eye-catching? Would it be seen in a sea of other ads and newspaper copy? What could be done to make it more noticeable?

Is the wording effective? Do some sentences flow poorly? What could improve it?

Is the ad an appropriate size to be seen easily in the newspaper? If not, what would be better?

In addition to the specific questions you'd like answered, ask for any additional comments, suggestions, or observations they may have which your questions might have overlooked.

Make Sure You Ask the Right Person.
When considering what kind of feedback you want, let that lead you to the person who is best suited to respond. Choose people who can provide you with the most valuable, actionable feedback possible. It can take some thought to determine who they are, but it's well worth it.

Understanding what it is that you want from the person giving feedback helps them respond more effectively and provide you with the information you need to improve.
About the Author
Laurie Wilhelm is the author of Express Yourself to Success. This website and eBooks are designed to help you achieve success faster by using strong verbal communications skills. Achieve your success by working with others through improved social and interpersonal skills, public speaking, networking, negotiation, and conflict resolution. Find out how you can boost your career by going to www.expressyourselftosuccess.com.
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