I hold a role as Systems Architect at my current company. That’s basically a fancy title for a person who takes the needs of a business, and automates them so humans don’t have to do as much work to accomplish a task. So that means a few things. First, is I work in development. I oversee an awesome team of developers that work with me to turn concept in to reality. Secondly, I’m in a position where I hear people’s issues all day because I get the task of building things that make them go away. (High five for that rhyme). Lastly, my role puts me in a position where what I build is put on display for criticism.
Receiving feedback comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s good and you feel awesome. But sometimes it’s bad, and you feel like the biggest failure in the world. Here are a few types of people that give feedback:
- The Passive Aggressive: Is afraid to hurt your feelings but really wants something to change. They give feedback in question format like “’Is this supposed to be here?” When they really mean “Why the hell did you put this here???”
- The Give it to You Straight: Doesn’t care about your feelings. Only wants to voice their opinion because, well, you asked for it. Typically give feedback like “I hate it. I don’t like the color you used and I don’t find it intuitive.”
- The Praiser: Thinks what you have done is God’s work and wouldn’t change a thing. These are the people you love. They usually give you reactions like “Wow! This is awesome!”
- The Doesn’t Know Any Better: Knows they want something to change but doesn’t know about technology and what’s capable so doesn’t know how to provide good feedback.
- The Kitchen Sink: Thinks they need to be really helpful so they give you suggestions of how to make it better but take it too far. They will suggest everything from “what if it was animated?!” to “what if it could also do my taxes?”
The thing I’ve learned about feedback too is that when asked to give it, people feel obliged to be of value to you so they critique things they normally wouldn’t care about. Think about it. Somebody comes to you and says “tell me what you think.” This person is relying on you to help make their product/idea better. The pressure is now on to be of value to them in order to do this. But at that very moment you naturally, without knowing, become the most critical version of yourself. You look for every single possible thing to change because you’re put on the spot to deliver.
In most cases, the feedback you receive does not hold any weight to them. If you were to ask the person to explain why they said that, they wouldn’t have much of a reason. Now I’m not saying that all feedback is bad feedback. As I’ve mentioned before it comes in all shapes and sizes and from different levels of education and authority. But what I do believe strongly in, is taking that feedback with a grain of salt. This is a great quote I always think about when getting feedback:
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”
The above quote resonates so well because in a shocking new discovery, it’s been found out that – drum roll please… everybody in the world is different! We all have differences in opinion, taste, education level, etc. And I bet you for every 10 people who say they hate something about your product/business idea there will be another 10 who say they love it. That’s just the way it goes. And before you start changing things to fit the last person’s request, remember it’s your product. Your business idea. And you need to protect it from crappy feedback.
To drive this point home I want to leave you with this video of an SNL skit. It’s about a TV show that listens to every Tweet that comes in with feedback about how to change the show. Because people don’t REALLY know what they want. We’re all so reactionary without any real analysis to add backing to our claims…