Do friends ever ask you: “Will you take a quick look at my website?”
A dear friend of mine forwarded her new website to me. She asked if I’d review the workshop she’s promoting. She said, “I’d LOVE your feedback.”
Now, let me throw in a few disclaimers here. This is a REALLY, REALLY good girlfriend, who I’ve known for years, traveled with, and talked candidly about work, relationships, money…
When I reviewed her site I immediately had a reaction… And, because of our relationship, I didn’t think about softening my feedback to her. (In my defense, I am not a part of the community she is marketing to. Her workshop is a mommy retreat…)
I was leaving on a flight later that day, so I wrote her an email with a few paragraphs of feedback, starting with the subject line, “Brutally honest feedback…” I told her the visual graphics needed to be cleaned up, the objectives weren’t clear, and I’m not drawn to the topic of the workshop.
Well, I was shaken by her response. She said my feedback devastated her… She was unprepared for how much my comments hurt.
Oh no… This wasn’t my intention at all! I really thought I was supporting her by giving her my honest opinion. In hindsight, I had acted too quickly, assumed too much and didn’t have enough information to give her feedback.
Here’s the thing about Feedback… it comes in all shapes and size. Typically I ask, “What kind of feedback are you looking for?” because it ranges…
- Do you want logistical edits: grammar, spelling, and confirm hotlinks are working?
- Are you looking for positive support: love, testimonials, “I believe in you”, “You Can Do it!”?
- Or are you asking for commentary on the idea as a whole: Is this sound? Would you buy/register/do this? What would make this offer more appealing?
Jason (my husband) and I have an AGREEMENT on feedback. Whenever he watches me present a workshop for a client, the only kind of feedback he gives the day of the event is the positive kind, “Great job. Here’s what went well…”
The next day, when I’m ready, we sit and talk about what parts could have been better, what transactions between activities could have gone smoother, and which parts I need to improve for future events.
Here’s the reason for splitting feedback sessions. I want to enjoy the HIGH of the presentation rush. If you’ve ever been on stage of any kind, you know I’m referring to. (I hear runners have something similar. I wouldn’t know about that one though…)
Remembering that pride and excitement is part of what feeds me to get on stage in the first place. And the constructive feedback session is the part that ensures that I earn my way there again.
The (happy) ending to the story is my friend called me back and said she knows I didn’t intentionally want to hurt her feelings. She mentioned feeling so vulnerable about this project because it’s her heart’s work. She focused on her website to make it even better, clarifying who her audience is and what the objectives of the retreat are.
I admit that this experience strained our relationship. But it’s given us something new to grow into. I don’t have many friends that I trust with this intimate level of input. Those that I do, I value their time, insight and caring.
I hope you have a network of people in your life that encourage you in your dreams and will challenge to make you even better.