What Feedback Do You Want? Decide Before You Ask

Last Update: November 13, 2012


In the last few days in WA I have come across the issue of 'feedback' and it is something that means different things to different people, so I thought I would address it here. Members frequently ask for 'feedback' for their websites, post, pages, blogs, videos, articles ...

Listed below are some of the issues that have been raised about feedback recently
  • Some people are frustrated that they’re not getting the type of feedback they need
  • Some are not getting the type of feedback they want
  • Some are shocked if the feedback isn’t universally positive,
  • Some are irritated by feedback that is very positive but not necessarily helpful
  • Some are confused by contrasting or conflicting feedback.
  • Some are too afraid to ask for feedback for fear of ridicule
  • Some don’t ask for feedback because they don’t feel they need it

Perhaps you have other examples that you could add to the list. But before I go any further – I need to clarify what feedback means.

What is feedback?

“Information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.”

So there it is – feedback should be used as a basis for improvement. Remember that because it’s important both for the people who receive it and those who are happy to give it. It’s a learning process.


However, feedback can be contentious so here are some points that you might want to consider


Tips for the people asking for feedback

Time to feedback

Remember that every member only has a certain amount of time to give to other people. If you ask people to look at your whole website, and you already have quite a few pages or posts – people will skim your site and pick up the things that matter to them. You can’t expect them to look thoroughly at every page and that will be reflected in the feedback that you receive.


Be specific

Try and be specific rather than generalist. It’s much easier for people to give you feedback
  • ‘Please look at this 3 minute video and tell me anything that can be improved ‘
  • ‘Please look at my website and comment on the colour and layout’
  • ‘What’s your opinion on the slider on my homepage’
  • “Do you think my latest blog effectively promotes my product ....”
  • “ Can you tell me 2 areas of my website that I could improve on and why...!
If you ask very general questions you may not get the specific help you need.


Avoid being lazy

Ask for feedback but don’t keep asking because you can’t be bothered to read or apply advice you might already have been given.


Internet marketing is not an exact science

It’s inevitable that people will sometimes give different views. That doesn’t necessarily mean one view is right and the other is wrong. It comes from people having different experiences and preferences and breadth of knowledge. Don’t get irritated. It happens.

Positive feedback only?

If you’re uncomfortable with any type of negative feedback or feedback which suggests there are areas for improvement, make sure that you ask for the type of feedback you want.

Tips for the people giving feedback

Use an appropriate level of language

Telling something that their work is ‘awesome’ or ‘brilliant’ – when it is merely satisfactory is unhelpful. Of course you want to keep people’s enthusiasm alive but there’s a huge difference between ‘outstanding’ and ‘very good and by using inappropriate levels of language you give someone the wrong impression.


Be clear about what the feedback applies to

If someone has asked you to look at their whole website and you only looked at the front page say so. Otherwise you may give the impression that there’s no room for improvement on other pages.

Be sincere

Don’t say that you think something is good if you don’t really believe that. It’s not fair. Don’t say a page is great if you see it’s full or typos. If you’re worried about hurting someone’s feeling by saying something that’s ‘negative’ don’t comment.

Choose your words with care

It's incredibly easy to use the 'wrong' words when giving feedback particularly when people can't get further cues from being able to hear or see you. It's inevitable with a diverse community like WA with different cultures and languages that we will sometimes we will get it wrong or be misunderstood. Remain sensitive to this happening.


Be honest about the scope of your feedback

Always be clear about the scope of your feedback – is it just your opinion, gut instinct, experience you’ve had, knowledge you’ve gained.


Use the sandwich technique

As an ex manager in education I had to give a lot of feedback and we were taught to use the sandwich method – something positive – areas for improvement – something positive. It's a good technique if you're giving some lengthy feedback in a pm.


Summary

Giving feedback isn’t always easy, especially in a diverse community such as WA where there is a wealth of different experience, tastes, opinions, languages and communication styles . With the best will in the world you won't necessarily get the feedback you want but if you need some be specific about what you need and be open to the response you get.

Join the Discussion
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Recent messages
buildyournow Premium
Nathaniell, your blog is very interesting and helpful as it certainly makes one understand what 'Feedback" entails. For me the feedback I'm requesting concerns 2 areas of my website that I could improve on and why! I have no problem with you being totally honest and objective as I truly want to be able to produce top quality websites. Your honest opinion is appreciated.
Again, your blog is awesome!
I do appreciate your kind assistance.
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gombirot Premium
Great article.

Tich
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RalphHua Premium
Avoid pleasantries.
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BIS Premium
Couldn't agree more!
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Jenna7 Premium
Sometimes it can be a little nerve wracking to get a review/critique, but I think it really helps a person learn and improve.

I forget where I heard this, but this might help newbies/people that don't like critiques or consructive criticism-remember that it is not you being personally critiqued, it's your work. So don't take it too personally or take offense, just realize that it is helping you improve and learn how to create an online business the right way.

Thanks for your posts Beverly. :)

One last thing, lol. Don't think that negative feedback means you're a failure. It just means you are learning. You don't learn how to walk in one day. You have to do it over and over.
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BIS Premium
Thanks Jenna. My pleasure
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lo24x7 Premium
Love this! Came across it randomly! I'm fairly new and I have yet to ask for feedback. Mostly because I'm a little terrified. I think I will soon. This article definitely made it easy to understand what to ask for when I'm ready! Thanks.
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BIS Premium
Glad you found it useful. I can understand your caution, but try to get over that and ask. You can sometimes get along quicker with some extra help
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lo24x7 Premium
Thanks!
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ZachMN Premium
Great Post! and Great Read.... alot of the people I help offline and online seem disappointed when I tell them about SEO or building traffic.... they think I have some kind of Ace up my sleeve or some "trick" ... but when they realize that there is not much to it .. and that it will requires some work ... they seem disappointed, and the reason Is because many "So called Gurus" these days sell people the "Dream" of making money online... Like they talk about "working on the Beach" ..... Which is mind boggling to me because I would never work from a beach ... it just doesn't make logical sense ... I got into online marketing so I didn't have to do work when I'm at the beach lol .... I can just sit back and Swim and soak up the sun ....

- Cheers
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art tech Premium
This for me has been a great help. I have to give feedback throughout most of my day and hadn't considered it in quite this way before. I give a sandwich method with a critical bit with the filling too!
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BIS Premium
Thanks. Glad you found it helpful.
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TLeeC Premium
That is very helpful and direct. Thanks for posting!
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BIS Premium
Thanks for taking the time to comment Tracy. Glad you found it useful
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Ema Premium
Great topic to stay on the human quality side of things. I am glad people at WA are not just training mechanically.
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BIS Premium
Thanks Ema
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bprsawford Premium
Nice feedback! No it's good stuff and an interesting post! I go along the lines "Don't ask if you really don't want to know the answer"!
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BIS Premium
I think we all want nice feedback because it's not always easy to swallow criticism even when it's delivered in a kind way. constructive way!

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
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@RICH. Premium
Kind? Constructive? I'll have to get the dictionary out. :P
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bprsawford Premium
Good ol Rich, just say it the way it is!!! Great guy though!
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JacquiMc Premium
This is wonderful. Too often people are offended if they receive feedback that is not necessarily positive; this feedback is meant for growth and improvement. It should never be received as a personal attack. I love your written explanation above. Thank you for putting it out into such a well written form.
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BIS Premium
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. It really was inspired by the members here. It's an issue that occasionally causes a few problems - because either people are not receiving what they perceive as helpful feedback, or people are upset by anything that they view as critical. It's often a very fine balancing act.
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I did ask for feedback on my website once many months ago and got only positive feedback, however, my site has not been successful so real feedback with suggestions on what changes I should make would be much better. My site is unsuccessful so I welcome feedback with possible solutions to help me improve. I have learned over the years that I can learn much more from others quicker than I can learn on my own.
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BIS Premium
Hi Kevin - I have looked at your site and I have some views about it. I will leave some thoughts on your blog space.
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I agree that asking for Feedback is a tough call for anyone to make because nobody really wants to be told the truth if what they have spent hours creating isn't any good.
I think we all have issues at handling bad news!
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BIS Premium
I agree Neil. It's not easy, but it's one of those risks we all have to learn to take if we want to progress in any field.
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bprsawford Premium
Feedback on your work, if honest will help you develop, learn and understand what to do right next time you go back to your site. But you are right it's a tough call, might be seen as cruel to be kind?
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WVLadyRebel Premium
I really enjoyed this! Very helpful and informative. I try to keep from being blunt, as my nature is to shoot straight from the hip. That style is not always appreciated by everyone, and with different areas of the languages and the world, yikes!

I do prefer to be honest but never hurtful. I just want the truth. You cannot fix something and make it better if no one will tell you that something is wrong.

I have often asked people when they asked for my 'professional' opinion during my corporate management years, if they wanted the truth or would they prefer to hear what they wanted to hear. I always gave them the option.

Glad someone addressed this as I was wondering why I was finding few people to give me their opinion and advice on my site! Small site, not a great deal of things to look at yet. LOL

I enjoy reading your posts and blogs.
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BIS Premium
Thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed it.

There are so many variables that affect giving or receiving feedback and it was becoming a real issue which is why I wrote this.

Like you I prefer to shoot from the hip.

If you want me to look at your site - just drop me a pm and I'm happy to do so.

Beverley
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Thank you for posting this. I feel that you addressed something important that many people are afraid to speak about. We have a tendency to think of criticism and insults as the same thing. When one is made to make you better and the other is made to destroy you.

But the confusion of the two makes us either bad at communicating criticism correctly or accepting it the right way. Hopefully we can all get past that barrier someday in our lives.
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BIS Premium
Glad you enjoyed it. In all honesty we probably will never get past our communication issues. They are one of the things that define us, which give us great pleasure and our uniqueness and makes us so infuriating to each other! We're just human after all!
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findingemo Premium
Great blog :). Being a newbie, I'm second guessing everything I do and have felt like quite the failure on many trials thus far. The wrong feedback on the wrong day and it could take the wind right out of my sails. I guess I never put any serious thought into what this word could mean and how much of an impact it could make on the development process, I'll take heed and tread lightly. Thanks for sharing. I'll have thank Rich tomorrow...
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BIS Premium
Thanks Patty
Sorry I didn't reply sooner - I think my head is elsewhere at the moment. Don't think of things as failures - they're just part of the learning process. Focus on - what have you learned! And you have learned loads

Beverley
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This is a brilliant article. Thanks for posting it!

I also like the idea of putting quotes within articles. Nice! :)
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BIS Premium
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm a bit of a quote freak and use them a lot.
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Excellent post Beverley! We all need to pay attention to this. Thanks!
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BIS Premium
Thanks Theo. Glad you liked it.
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mission0ps Premium
Quality... Nuff said
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BIS Premium
Not sure whether you want quality feedback or you like my article - but thanks for taking the time to read.
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welshy Premium
Great post Beverley, I'm taking note.
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BIS Premium
Thanks Craig.
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GaiC Premium
Excellent work Beverly and very timely I like the point about being specific. Sometimes people have a general feedback questions when they are wanting feedback on a specific area. Ask for what you want feedback on the the more detail the better
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BIS Premium
Thank you. Hope you find it useful.
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Sir William Premium
Hi BIS, Wow , I gotta tell that is very thought provoking. Especially for me since at
this point in my training I have limited feedback to give. Which I try to be careful of what I give. Well I am not going to , Oh yes I am, once again great job.
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BIS Premium
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. And despite what you say I'm sure you already have lots of feedback to offer!
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Shawn Martin Premium
Very good Beverley, and very much needed. I agree and I will put this into action when I am asked to take a look.
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BIS Premium
Thanks Shawn. Glad you found it helpful
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splashduck Premium
Hi Beverley, Thanks for this. I like that sandwich technique, keeps things on the positives while being realistic in that there's always room for a little improvement.

I have to admit I'm a bit reluctant to ask for feedback. If I get brave I'll try like you said and be specific about the feedback I'd like, narrowing it down to one thing only. Good points you've made. Thanks.

Rob:)
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BIS Premium
Hi Rob
I'm notoriously bad at the sandwich technique. I had to pinch myself when I worked in education to remember to use it!

Asking for feedback can be overwhelming and I don't blame you for feeling some reluctance, but you have done it even if you didn't think of it as 'feedback'. Remember your video - which was lovely showing your home area and the festival? Several of us looked and commented.

Narrow it down as you said and give it a go.

Beverley
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@RICH. Premium
Hey Diva B.

Perfect. Naturally. ;)

I've bookmarked for distribution. I'm now only going to critique a site if the requester has read this and signs a note promising to lick their own wounds. :P

I'm 100% in agreement that criticism should be honest, constructive and prefaced as to whether it's fact or opinion. I just wish that people would ask by blogging or sending a PM rather than in chat. I find that rapid fire questions and answers makes it difficult to give a considered response.

Rich. x
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BIS Premium
Thanks Rich

I agree - Live Chat is not really a suitable forum for feedback - but I guess it's a sure fire way of getting some rapid feedback. However, I'm not sure that people always appreciate the limitations!

Beverley
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phaeton Premium
Beverly; great article! I did not realize that there was such great meaning to one word, especially one that is comprised mainly of the first 6 letters of the alphabet. Great layout and I love the graphics. Peter
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BIS Premium
Thank you Peter. Glad you enjoyed it.
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yessharon Premium
Great post Beverly. With the inspiring words that you always write and the visuals that you create I am able to analyze how I do things and improve my performance. Not only online but offline. You are one of the world's best teachers and I feel priviledged to read your words.
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BIS Premium
Hi Sharon
Thank you ever so much that's really kind of you to say so. Would you mind if I used your comment on a new website I'm developing for 'writing' and link it back to your profile here?
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yessharon Premium
I would be happy to let you use my words. You are the best.
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BIS Premium
Sharon
Thank you I'm really grateful for that. I will send you the link when I've used it - which will probably be next week. Thanks a lot.
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