A few years ago, I retired my blog because I wanted to write under my name. More importantly, I wanted to see if I could branch out beyond human resources and write about something fresh.
In January, a friend of mine reached out and said that he “ceased reading my work” because it lacked passion and authenticity. Where I was once clear and focused on The Cynical Girl, now my voice is lost.
Around the same time, another person sent me a note and expressed his dismay that this site and The Cynical Girl are exactly the same. No difference in voice. No difference in tone. In fact, he was severely disappointed in my lack of growth. Wasn’t I meant to do something different? Why was I re-creating the same website?
My response to both men was the same.
“Who the hell asked you?”
It’s like neither of them reads my blog. I’m not looking for feedback. I’ve never looked for feedback. Feedback-adverse since 1975. Pretty sure that comes through loud and clear to everybody.
YOU CAN LEARN AND GROW WITHOUT FEEDBACK
It’s not like I don’t want to grow and learn; it’s just that random, individualized feedback is unhelpful to most artists and authors (and bloggers). I have specific questions about my audience and my voice. I have areas of strengths and weakness. When I have a particular area that is troubling me, I seek out answers from experts.
I got this.
FEEDBACK IS A FEELING, NOT FACT
What’s disruptive is the casual email or the arbitrary comment that tries to be helpful and causes nothing but a distraction. Even when it comes from a good place—and it almost always comes from a good place—the comment is often uninformed and naive.
(How can I be both the alike and different from my old blogging persona at the same time?)
FEEDBACK CAN BE WRONG
Also, for real, back to my original point: Who asked you? We live in a push-push-push world. Pulse polling. Micro-feedback. Prescriptive interventions. You don’t ask you kids for feedback on dinner. (You like broccoli? No? You want chicken nuggets? Again? Ok!) You don’t ask your spouse for feedback on your marriage vows. (You like skinny blondes? Oh, I’m sorry, go for it!)
Maybe take your foot off the pedal, and your fingers off the keyboard, and resist the urge to provide unsolicited feedback.
SLOW YOUR ROLL
If you care about the people in your life, I have one piece of advice: Lavish praise when it’s appropriate and ignore what’s not to your liking. That’s how the experts train dolphins (and husbands). That’s how you give feedback to a blogger, too.
Unsolicited feedback is for the benefit of the sender only. I read what you write because I like how your brain works.
“Unsolicited feedback is for the benefit of the sender only.” Well said, sir.
Solicited, targeted feedback can be helpful. Know why? Because a person has to WANT to change in order for feedback to make a difference.
Change is hard. And it doesn’t happen because someone sends someone else an email. :/
Ah yes, the bane of the most arrogant – dismissing those that offer criticism as somehow lesser than themselves, or selectively ignoring all negative feedback in order to preserve their ego.
I expected this very obvious comment, and I have to say that I actually don’t mind feedback if it’s a little helpful. Specificity is key. The examples I gave above are not helpful, like most unsolicited feedback. You know it’s also not helpful? Anonymous comments! Just kidding. It’s nice to have readers. Thank you.
I agree with you to a very large extent but aren’t you confusing feedback with criticism? If I gave you the unsolicited feedback that “Your blog is wonderful, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen on the internet” would your reaction be the same?
(Actually it might be on the grounds I was a bit weird, but I’m sure you get my point)
No, I’m not confusing feedback with criticism. It just so happened that these examples are critical, as most feedback is, but I know the difference. I think feint praise is stupid, too.
I feel like this post could be stronger. It’s 50/50 when I use myself as an example because sometimes the broader point — MYOB, pulse polling and micro feedback are unhelpful, lavish praise to change behaviors instead of saying how you feel — is missed.
Laurie, I love your blog.
But I am also a pathological liar.
That last sentence is not true.
Good feedback comes from a good, caring place and is only given when absolutely necessary or asked for. Too much feedback (like many of the comments here) are just the result of man’s incessant need to hear himself talk. It’s O.K. that this post – or anything else – isn’t for or abour you. Acknowledge that you don’t have to like it and move along. Your superior attitude can do more good elsewhere.
There have been people in my professional life who show up at your desk every once in a while and say, “Can I give you some feedback?”
And you’re just NOT ALLOWED TO REFUSE. And half the time, they didn’t like the content of something I said, but give me this passive-aggressive “feedback” on the WAY I said it. Sorry, but sometimes there’s no nice way to tell you something you didn’t and will never want to hear.
I get that question from time to time. I ask, “Is this going to hurt my feelings? If so, can we do it later?”
A majority of the people are always going to want to put their two cents in. Whether it’s feedback (oh how I hate that term) or criticism. I see this all the time in my job as a hair dresser. A client will come in and say “my friend (family member, etc.) told me my hair was too long (short, choppy,colored funny, etc.)” I would then ask the client if she/he asked this person for their thoughts. “No” was always the answer so it was always unsolicited “feedback”. It’s always bewildering to me that some people don’t think twice about commenting negatively on appearance, much less writing ability. And I see this type of thing in my HR role as well. Except it has to do with office issues and doing something the right way or wrong way.
I think that’s an interesting observation about hairdressers!
Hey look I’m commenting on a blog whose author does not like feedback… The universe will implode upon itself now.
We survived. Nobody cares.
Remind me of some quote I read once (by Oscar Wilde? I dunno). It went: “Given a choice between honesty and kindness, I prefer kindness.” Or something like that. So true. If i’m not asking you for fitness or writing or career or life or whatever advice, don’t offer it. THAT is my advice!
Just say nice things to me always!