How To Give Honest Feedback

The other day I was toying with the idea of starting a flower business by creating a website where you could buy flowers for a random person in need.

I’d work with the flower companies to make it affordable. People could buy flowers for individuals in need of love. And I’d be helping bring smiles to hundreds of individuals. Greatest idea ever.

While doing my research I sent an email over to my boy Sean Platt who worked in the flower industry for many years. I just knew he would love my idea and all would be merry. Eh.. not so fast.

Long story short, Sean gave me some honest feedback.

The jury had decided: My idea sucked.

Whether or not I could have made the business model work is beside the point. What struck me was at how honest Sean was. Instead of lying to me and saying that it would all work out, he was frank and up front. 

His reaction to my idea most certainly bruised my ego, but in the end he saved me hundreds of hours of hard work. [For the record I love Sean, and he wasn’t overly harsh.]

In today’s society honest feedback is frowned upon. Criticism is almost always countered with the “haters gonna hate” mantra. And while I too admit there are plenty of negative nancy’s of the world, I sincerely believe criticism has it’s place.

Criticism helps us grow. Coddling does not.

So how can you give more honest feedback in your every day life?

Be errr.. honest.

If someone asks you for advice or your opinion be straight forward with them. It doesn’t matter if it’s your mom, spouse, or best friend.

Be up front.

It’s not always easy giving it straight, but in the long run your friends and family will respect you more for being honest.

Before giving advice ask yourself  “Is this what I really think?” Don’t settle for anything less.

Realize You’re Helping Someone Grow

If you’re honest, feelings will get hurt. You’re not always going to agree with your friends and family. You have your opinion and they have theirs.

That said, it’s not easy hurting someone you love, but in the long run you’re helping the person grow.

If a person trusts you enough to value your opinion they want the real thing not advice from someone who is holding back.

By being honest, Sean helped me see plenty of holes in my business plan and made me consider my idea from an entirely different perspective.

By giving honest feedback you challenge your friends and family to be at their best. Being overly nice does no one any good.

Support But Don’t Baby

There’s a fine line between being honest and just being a jerk. Offer suggestions and critiques but don’t ram the person into the ground.

Be firm in what you say but don’t be afraid to offer support. If your friend asks how their blog is and it’s boring suggest five ways they can make it better. If you think they shouldn’t date the crazy girl next door suggest in looking elsewhere.

Don’t just criticize because you can. You want the person to be better off after they hear you out not worse.

It’s Only Advice

By giving your feedback you’re only giving your point of view. That may or may not help the person in need.

In my case I could have easily ignored what Sean had to say. But in the end after I realized many of his points were valid and so I acted accordingly.

Ultimately your opinion shouldn’t have too much sway either way. If your friends business idea rests on what you have to say they won’t succeed anyways.

As I said earlier, it’s often difficult to give honest feedback but in the end it’s best for everyone involved.

The world needs more honest feedback. Do what you can to help. 🙂

Note: If you would like me to give some honest feedback on a project or something you’re working on feel you know where to reach me You have been warned. 😉

6 Comments

  • Great post, BUD.

    I am a Toastmaster, and a fundamental cornerstone of the organization is feedback, or evaluation. It is the honest evaluation of what I do there that helps me to grow. But there are times when, for whatever reason, I get a “whitewash” evaluation. It is always disappointing, because I am looking to grow, and an evaluation that says, “everything was perfect” does me no good at all.

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head with this post. Thanks for sharing.

  • If it’s not already done, I actually like the idea. And aside from finding a source for the flowers you could get the website up in a day.

    Back to the point. Honest feedback is INVALUABLE and can save both hours and dollars, great article Bud.

  • Ha, hey Bud, I’m always happy to help.

    It’s like I’d tell my son or daughter, I’m doing nothing for them if I’m not helping them to make better decisions. The idea itself was awesome, just not practical for an industry that’s hanging on by its fingernails as it is!

    But it’s indicative of a good thinker, and that’s the most important thing of all. GREAT job. 🙂

  • It’s nice to have a trusted friend who is not afraid to tell you that your brilliant idea has a few flaws in it. One of my long time business mentors does that on a regular basis, and after I dust off the bruised ego, I realize he was right and saved me a lot of time and money.

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