Lucas Brenner » Articles » What Good Feedback Looks Like

A good feedback culture is essential if you want to grow in your professional and private life. We should all ask for feedback more often and more specifically – but this is easier said than done. When I recently wrote a statute draft for the geography student council, I also had to force myself to implement the advice provided in this article.

Good feedback should have the following three characteristics: It should be shared in a timely manner, be honest and long-term oriented. In this article, I explain these dimensions and how to implement them in your everyday life.

Good Feedback Is Timely

The best feedback in the world doesn't help if it comes too late and changes are no longer possible. When seeking feedback, we have to move away from actually looking for confirmation instead of constructive criticism. This is completely normal, because suggestions for improvement initially feel negative because what you have worked on is not perfect. This is why many people's first reflex is to reject criticism and subsequently ask for feedback less and less and later.

Instead, we should ask for the opinions of others early on in projects so that adjustments can still be made. When the product is 90% complete, many sensible suggestions can no longer be implemented (without a great deal of work and money). If, on the other hand, you ask for feedback early on and share your unfinished work, then such changes are easier to make.

You shouldn't wait for something to be “finished” before asking others for feedback. Instead, it is most productive to share unfinished work projects and prototypes. Under no circumstances should you work on something alone for so long that you are no longer open to criticism.

Good Feedback Is Long-Term Oriented

Getting feedback on a specific project or a specific question is very helpful. However, in order to develop in the long term and learn from past feedback for future projects, you should also try to derive general lessons from the criticism.

On the one hand, you can learn long-term lessons from specific feedback. For example, if the color scheme of a presentation is criticized, you can put together a better color palette that you can also use for other projects.

On the other hand, you can also ask for long-term feedback specifically. This works particularly well with people who are familiar with your work. These are usually friends and family or close colleagues and superiors. This feedback is usually more general and you may have to invest time to make it applicable, but at the same time this type of feedback often targets deeper issues, the resolution of which can greatly improve own work.

Good Feedback Is Honest

Another aspect of good feedback is that it is shared honestly. Of course, feedback should be constructive, but the feedback culture must be open enough to allow all suggestions to be communicated.

Feedback must not be a feel-good moment of compliments and small pseudo- suggestions, but have to clearly express what you think is good and what should be changed. The manner of communication should of course be as friendly and gentle as possible, but the core of the feedback must not be watered down. It's not always easy to accept feedback – that's why it should be worthwhile when you do.

You Don't Have to Implement All Advice

Of course, you don't have to implement all the suggestions for improvement that you receive, even if they cover all the dimensions described in this article. In most cases, this is not even possible because you may receive contradictory feedback from different people.

Nevertheless, you should think about every piece of feedback and not dismiss it immediately. An open mindset is key to implementing feedback in the best possible way. If you decide not to act on feedback you received, you should have a good, objective reason for doing so.

The main goal is to allow feedback and at the same time carefully consider what suggestions you actually want to work on. Dealing with feedback and giving feedback are difficult undertakings that are very individual. Last but not least, you have to pay attention to the other person and adapt your style of communication accordingly.