The effectiveness of feedback depends partly on the one who receives it – how open and willing you are to participate in the process. As a feedback seeker you can do your bit to make the process useful and effective for yourself. Here are some thoughts and tips to help you get the best out of your feedback sessions.
If you’d like to understand the importance and utility of objective feedback for creative work, then head here Why is objective feedback important for creative work
Find the right person
Right here means right for you. And that is not necessarily the most popular or the most successful person. Feedback is an important interpersonal process. It requires you to be vulnerable and share your work as well as parts of yourself with another person. Do the due diligence and find the right fit so you can get the best out of the interaction.
How to find the right feedback provider
You probably already have an inkling about who you want to approach for feedback. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to find the best match for you.
- Who are they? You probably already know them because of their creative work/profession. Are you able to gauge their skill level from that? Make sure they are competent in the craft so you can benefit from their skills and experience.
- What is their general outlook and ethos? You can easily get a general sense of this from your prior interactions with them (in person/online). Look out for how they describe themselves and their approach to the craft. What do your interactions with them tell you about them?
- What are their special skills and strengths? Make sure that those areas dovetail with your own gap areas. That way, they can help you where you need help.
- What is your optimal setting for learning and can they provide it? For example, can you learn better if you can see them? If you communicate better online, are they able to provide you the right tools and platform for the best possible interaction? Are they able to provide sessions at a time and schedule conducive to your own learning? (and so on…)
- Are your personalities well matched to take this journey together? For example, if you are an introvert and they have a big bold personality, would that intimidate you? If you are the kind that needs a cheerleader but they happen to be a quieter person, would you be open to learning from them?
Commit to the feedback process.
Since you are doing this for your own benefit, it makes sense to be open and willing to go the entire distance. Know that you are going to be okay, even if someone shows you your limitations. In fact, that would help you grow, so stay open to constructive comments. Don’t take things too personally. If you are too touchy about your work, it may block the easy flow of your interaction and you may not be able to absorb new & useful ideas or find new possibilities.
Do your homework well in advance.
Share your portfolio, profile and any other general information that might help the feedback provider understand you and your work better. You don’t need to become best friends or share personal details for this process to be effective. But if you do think that your life situation has any bearing on your work or your limitations, convey a few useful bits of information to the feedback provider so they can better understand the context. Remember that they are creatives like you and in all likelihood already know how to work with limitations and may be happy to share their tips and tricks with you.
Feedback is not a performance test
Don’t feel pressured to show only your best work. That would be counterproductive. Present a balanced assortment of your work to help broader and deeper understanding.
Be clear about the scope of the feedback.
Your feedback provider will be able to best describe the scope of their interaction with you, so just ask them for details on what to expect. In most contexts, feedback is not the same as mentorship or a workshop – they each have a different set of goals. Make sure you know what to expect so you can avoid disappointment and mismatched expectations.
Openness and trust
Be yourself and bring your work willingly. You are not required to accept or agree with any comment or suggestion offered to you during feedback – so there is no need to feel pressured. In the end, you are the captain of your own ship. So relax. That way, you can participate more fully in the process.
Be open to new thoughts and possibilities for your work. Also be open to the interaction. It is best not to have rigid ideas on how the feedback process must be conducted. Staying flexible and open creates a pleasant experience and usually gives the best possible outcome.
Sometimes these interactions with your fellow-creatives have long lasting benefits. Treat Feedback like an opportunity for growth.