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Sam Davidson's blog

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An Example of Good Feedback

I assume you know people who give terrible feedback. I don't mean that they give feedback that is bad. If we do something bad, we should know it's bad so we don't keep screwing things up. However, there is a way to give good feedback that is bad. Here's what I mean.

Bad feedback is:

That sucks. It will never work.

Such a comment, while possibly true, gives no corrective recommendation. If something sucks, please tell me. But, please tell me why.

Here's an example of good feedback, taken from CoolPeopleCare today. We wrote an article about refilling things around your house in order to keep trash out of landfills, mainly soap dispensers, ink cartridges, and water bottles. One of our users wrote:

Thanks for putting together such a great reminder every day!

I just got your email update today. Great idea with the refilling things!

However, I wanted to let you know that antibacterial handsoap, like other antibacterial things, are potentially creating a health-care crisis. Bacteria is becoming increasingly more resistant thanks to the surge in use of anitbacterial products, and a potential health crisis looms in the distance. It is also harmful to our watershed--please check out the Center for Disease Control for more infomation.

Again, thanks for such an encouraging website. Please keep the tips and suggestions coming!

Here's why this is awesome.

  • The reader starts with a compliment that is honest. The writer is not blowing smoke - she genuinely likes what we do, and most days doesn't have issues with our suggestions.
  • She clearly highlights the specific part of our article that may be incorrect.
  • She clearly articulates what's incorrect and points to a source with the correct information.
  • She closes in the affirmative again, reminding us that despite a small setback, we're doing a good job.

This is feedback we can use. This is feedback that gets someone a free T-shirt.

How do you give feedback? It's better for the giver and receiver if you're detailed and accurate.