posted October 8, 2018

Feedback: The good, the bad & the ugly

Amy Anderson

Feedback is inevitable. Some of it is simple (i.e. “This headline should reinforce benefit X”). Some of it, not so much (i.e. “Kinda weird”). Each breed of feedback comes with its own demons. The first step to salvation: identifying what you’re working with.

The Good

Challenging Feedback

You heard me, challenging feedback is the good kind of feedback. It doesn’t always feel that way, but that’s only because it takes hard work. It’s like making cookies from scratch. You’ll break a sweat mixing that shit up and rolling it out, but it’s worth it. After all, you know store-bought don’t make Grandma proud.

Signs of challenging feedback:  

–       Actionable

–       Coherent

–       Future-focused

How to tackle it:

–       Be patient with your thought process

Oh yeah, this is your by-definition, friendly reminder that challenging impossible.

chal·leng·ing

adjective

  • testing one’s abilities; demanding.
  • inviting competition; provocative.

The Bad

Band-Aid Feedback

Just like there are fake-nice humans, there’s fake-good feedback. This kind will sneak up on you, because it’s all gravy until “you’re just not getting it.” And how could you? This kind of feedback calls for temporary fixes at every turn, flagging unexpected issues without allowing you to become stronger.

Signs of Band-Aid feedback:  

–       Overly prescriptive  

–       Lacking context

–       Seemingly random

How to tackle it:

–       Ask for help pinpointing the “why”

The Ugly

Harsh Feedback

Sometimes, you get feedback doused in sass (i.e. “If you wanted to use correct English, you’d say ‘such as’—not ‘like’”). Rather than constructive criticism, this breed often takes the form of insults and jabs that feel all-too-personal. More likely than not, this feedback is rooted in some combination of communication issues, anxiety over the project and plain old insecurity (yep, we all get it).

Signs of harsh feedback:  

–       Personal

–       Opinion-based  

–       False urgency

How to tackle it:

–       Ask your PMs to extract what matters

Annnnd

The Absolute Worst

Impossible Feedback

Despite being toxic to success, impossible feedback is quite common. If you receive feedback that conflicts with the project brief, brand guidelines or previous feedback, you’re treading in dangerous waters. Flag this feedback immediately, so you don’t have to defend nonsensical choices in the future.

Signs of the absolute worst feedback:  

–       Conflicting

–       Unrealistic  

–       Destructive

How to tackle it:

–       Regroup with your team ASAP

Okay, you’re right. Really, the only acceptable kind of feedback is the challenging kind. So next time you get feedback that’s bad, ugly or worse, demand better. Even bad feedback deserves constructive criticism.

Need some guidance on actionable feedback? Read this blog post.