giving ... and receiving feedback

I'm posting for 60 days straight, leading up to my early December birthday, and I'm making the time to write on behalf of slain UCC Professor and aspiring novelist, Larry Levine. And now we have CSU Long Beach design student Nohemi Gonzalezgunned down in Paris.

Like many creatives, I'm often asked for feedback on video rough cuts, work-in-progress audio podcasts, or drafts of stories, essays, or scripts. Feedback from trusted peers is invaluable during revision and when approaching final submission. I'm happy to give it when asked, as long as I know by when and if they're looking for any specific feedback or general thoughts. 

I've found there's an art to giving and receiving feedback. On the receiving end, which can be frustrating and painful, my golden rule is to accept feedback as graciously as you can, be open-minded, not defensive, and resist the need to respond to every comment.

Easier said than done, I know. But a mark to aim for.

Giving feedback should follow that age old, golden rule maxim, Do Unto Others as You'd Like Done Unto You. Do you want to receive feedback that's a list of 'negatives'? No, you want props for the positives too - the look of a certain shot, the quality of an interview, the masterful dialogue between the protagonist and her guy.

So, ALWAYS - and I'm not a fan of of using 'always' or 'never', because they're not realistic modifiers - start off with something positive.

Then proceed with your insightful list of things to consider or things to improve.

And wrap up with something positive. Leave the creator feeling some warmth in the process and keep them motivated to do another revision. 

This sandwich technique - Positive, Needs Improvement, Positive - was drilled into me through various acting classes, writing workshops, and film critiques over the years. It's been time-tested and helped produce some great works of art. 

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