The Art of Soliciting Feedback

This article, by Acacia Duncan, is a continuation of our series on the (negative) emotions that typically trigger calls to us, and small tips to mitigate these challenges. They may feel familiar. That’s because they’re happening in board rooms and offices around the world on a regular basis. 

“I just don’t want to see so many red lines.” 

The client, an excellent writer, was disappointed in herself. She would send drafts to her partner that came back bleeding with edits. She worried that she was not putting enough time into her drafts, that her colleague was disappointed in her work, and that her reputation was slipping. 

I asked a simple question, “How much redline is normal?” 

She paused, and reflected. “I don’t know.”

No wonder she was disappointed. She had no idea if she was meeting expectations or not. 


Noun: sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.

It is easy to experience disappointment when soliciting feedback– and a lot of it is avoidable.

If you are experiencing disappointment when you share your work, consider setting expectations about what feedback you are looking for. 

Clarify what your audience is expecting. 

If your audience has a question on their mind, you want to be sure you answer it. Get on the same page early. 

Let the person know where you are in your process.

An early draft needs a different type of feedback than a presentation you need to deliver tomorrow. 

Ask for the type of feedback you need.

If you know the draft needs a lot of polishing, but want to make sure the big ideas are landing, ask for that. 

Or, maybe you are looking for help punching up the language, but don’t want to change the core content. Ask! 

Maybe you just want to make sure your slides are easy to follow. Ask! 

Need to Improve Your Team’s Communication Skills? We Can Help.

Our Message Method is a structured thought approach to communication. It includes several moments of purposeful iteration when you can ask for the feedback you need in a direct way. Communication is, after all, not just about what you say, it’s about what your audience hears. When you’re clear with your expectations, disappointment might just become a thing of the past.   Contact us and let us know how we can support you.

Want to read more? Find our posts on Doubt and Frustration.