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The Secret to Asking for Feedback

These days it’s hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys; the distinction no longer seems to hold water. Binary thinking has evolved from a simplistic survival mechanism into a rationale for lethal polarization. Toxic call-out culture has most of us paralyzed. We’re afraid to say the wrong thing for fear of getting canceled, so instead we say nothing at all.

When you request feedback, it’s crucial to give specific direction.

A vague question such as “do you have any feedback for me?” will get you a vague answer, and most likely implicitly encourage the person to tell you what they think you want to hear. A softball question like this isn’t just lazy, it’s actually presumptuous, because it leaves the other person to do all the work. Plus, it’s intimidating—even if you don’t mean it to be!

  • What can I stop doing, start doing and continue doing to be a better team leader?
  • What’s one thing that really worked in that meeting? What’s one thing that didn’t land, or that I missed?
  • Lately I’ve been working on getting better at time management. How do you think I’m doing with this? Any suggestions for how I might be able to do it twice as well?
  • Do you have time to look over an article I wrote? I’m specifically looking for feedback on whether the overall flow makes sense, and if you think the title works.

Founder of Business Casual, MS in Change Management from The New School, formerly @Etsy

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