We don’t care about your feelings

Giving feedback on writing can be a tricky task. You know, sometimes, it just... doesn’t feel right. When you’re looking over someone’s writing at work, that’s the kind of remark that’ll probably earn you a colourful, unflattering nickname.

Thing is, you can turn that hazy feeling of not-quite-right-ness into some top-notch feedback. But you’ve got to take your feelings out of the equation. You’ve got to get objective.

How? Separate out your thoughts into three things:

1. Content

Has your colleague included all the information you, as a reader, need to know? (Like when and where the meeting’s taking place. Or what the report’s recommendations are.) Or do you get to the end with a list of questions as long as your arm?

2. Structure

What’s the most important bit of information in the piece of writing? Is it easy to find? Has the writer put their ideas in the right order? And have they used headings and subheadings to help you find your way around the document?

3. Tone

Is it in your brand’s tone of voice? Is the writing clear and easy to understand? Or does it sound like it might have been written by a robot, rather than one human speaking to another?

Breaking the news

Once you’ve sorted your thoughts into content, structure and tone you can explain just where someone’s going wrong – objectively. That way you don’t hurt anybody’s feelings.

Importantly, it’ll also help you tell people exactly what they’re doing right. Like this: ‘Your tone needs a little work,’ (give them some pointers) ‘but your content and structure are spot on. Don’t change a thing about them.’ And that’s the kind of feedback that’ll probably earn you a winning smile and a nice cup of tea.

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