Can You Pass This Test on Giving Constructive Feedback?

Yesterday I posted advice on giving constructive feedback in writing. That advice took the form of a list of Don'ts. Why not test yourself today on tips for giving constructive feedback? The list of 20 Don'ts below contains some fake Don’ts that should actually be Dos. Can you identify them?

Which of these Don'ts should be Dos? 

  1. Don’t exaggerate.

  2. Don’t be cute or clever.

  3. Don’t make a sincere, positive comment before constructive comments.

  4. Don’t try to balance the positives and negatives.

  5. Don’t equate rudeness with straight talk.

  6. Don’t avoid the pronouns you and your in constructive comments.

  7. Don’t act dense.

  8. Don’t be specific.

  9. Don’t be a hit-and-run critic.

  10. Don’t avoid the word but after a compliment.

  11. Don’t provide suggestions or offer to provide them.

  12. Don’t copy other people on constructive feedback.

  13. Don’t be sure your correction is valid when you correct other people’s work.

  14. Don’t assume someone else has a problem you can help to fix.

  15. Don’t comment if it is not your job to do so and you have not been asked or paid for an opinion.

  16. Don’t focus on the future.

  17. Don’t counterattack.

  18. Don’t put your feedback in context.

  19. Don’t give feedback when it is too late to incorporate.

  20. Don’t give constructive feedback privately.

 

 

Was it easy to recognize the Don'ts that should have been Dos? Before you compare your choices with mine, see whether you found ten DosThat's the number I have. 

For hints, read yesterday's blog post, "Make Constructive Comments Without Making Enemies." 

 

 

 

Here are my Dos: 

3. Make a sincere, positive comment before constructive comments.

4. Try to balance the positives and negatives.

6. Avoid the pronouns you and your in constructive comments.

8. Be specific.

10. Avoid the word but after a compliment.

11. Provide suggestions or offer to provide them.

13. Be sure your correction is valid when you correct other people’s work.

16. Focus on the future.

18. Put your feedback in context.

20. Give constructive feedback privately.

 

Did any Dos surprise you? 

Number 6, Avoid the pronouns you and your in constructive comments, has to do with avoiding a shaming or blaming tone. Instead of writing "Your conclusions are incorrect," write "The conclusions are incorrect." That slight change lowers the reader's defensiveness and the need to respond "But they weren't just MY conclusions!" 

Number 16, Focus on the future, recognizes that the past cannot be changed. Introductory words like "The next time you find yourself running short of time" or "When you get that question from a member," help the reader understand what to do–not only what not to do. 

Please share your comments about other Dos and Don'ts for giving constructive feedback, especially when that feedback is in writing. 

The quiz above comes from my free 100-page curriculum for a college-level course I call Business Writing That Builds Relationships. If you are a college or vocational instructor, I hope you find value in it. 

Lynn
Syntax Training

1 COMMENT

  1. Regarding #4, it’s important to remember that balance isn’t necessarily a one-to-one ratio. Consider this statement of one positive and one negative comment: “I’m really impressed you didn’t have any typos; however, the entire document misses the point.” Not only is the compliment’s impact small compared to the impact of the negative statement; the compliment could easily be perceived negatively (“So you think I normally have typos?”).

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