Draw the line between an opinion and feedback

3 min read

In our current landscape, expressing unpopular opinions has become more accessible than ever. However, the line between sharing constructive feedback and simply venting has become increasingly blurred.

The prevalent idea of radical candor has sometimes led us to believe that any form of expression, even if poorly articulated, should be received gratefully - take feedback as a gift. But here's where we need to shift our focus — the pressure should not only rest on the receiver.

Among various workplace strategies, the term "feedback" has transformed into a marketing buzzword, symbolizing an open and flat organizational culture. However, delving deeper into the feedback dynamic reveals its unique challenges.

Spot the difference

It's crucial to distinguish between sharing an opinion and providing feedback. While expressing opinions is valid, presenting them as indisputable facts can't be expected to be received as constructive feedback. For instance, telling someone, "Your public speaking abilities are bad" without context is not feedback but a subjective observation presented as an absolute.

To give perspective, and a reasonable understanding, I like to emphasize how things are making me feel, and providing that observation can help the receiver to understand why I am bringing this up.

For instance, stating, "I felt a disconnect during the presentation due to the heavy text on the slides" provides a clearer understanding. The analogy of observing feedback as if it were recorded by an unbiased camera encourages objectivity and discourages unnecessary personalization.

Being direct to the point doesn’t always mean you are approaching things right. This can be sometimes an excuse to just be rude. Whatever var or standard you based on your opinion, might not be the same as others. So defining the barrier between right and wrong is not easy, that's why I try to focus more on feelings and emotions.

Choosing your approach

Whether you find yourself giving or receiving feedback, there's no one-size-fits-all strategy. A practical approach, which has proven effective, involves seeking consent in advance. Questions like "Is this a good time?" or "Would you prefer written feedback?" can set the right tone for the exchange.

While structured processes, like 360 feedback loops, have their merits, rigid frameworks may not suit every scenario. For instance, fixed schedules might lead to delayed feedback, defeating its purpose. Moreover, people might hold honest feedback to avoid impacting promotion cycles. Imposing feedback sessions on everyone's agenda may force individuals to share feedback, even when they feel unequipped or unqualified to do so.

Make it routine

Opting for informal feedback channels can foster better habits and address problems in real time rather than compromise strictly to time-consuming processes. Approaching individuals informally allows for more spontaneous and genuine exchanges. This not only avoids unnecessary pressure on both parties but also encourages a more open and constructive feedback culture.

In rethinking our approach to feedback, let's aim for a balance that values genuine expression without compromising the well-being of those involved. Build trust and motivate people. After all, the true essence of feedback lies in its ability to spur positive growth rather than create unnecessary tension.

Thanks for reading ❤️

Written by Manu

I am a product-driven JavaScript developer, passionate about sharing experiences in the IT world, from a human-centric perspective.

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