I recently read an article about learning being based purely on how much quality feedback a student receives from their teacher. It brought me back to my very first critique group meeting with Giles and Emer. We had to teach ourselves to give meaningful feedback, and then we had to learn to listen to that critique without getting ultra defensive.
If you're a writer and you've never been to an in-person critique session, I highly recommend it. Some days feel like getting stuck in a room with a horde of Internet trolls. Other days can surprise you with positive feedback. The great thing is that even terrible comments can help you learn–what matters is seeking the feedback in the first place.
Knowing how to take feedback isn't just a skill for writers. Whether you have an office job, are a full-time student, or get to spend your days traveling the world, the ability to listen to feedback without having a mental breakdown is indispensable. If my teaching mentor never told me what I did right or wrong, I wouldn't know what to improve. Imagine never knowing if your boss thought you were good at your job or not–how awful would that be?
Whenever I have to give someone feedback, I try to use what we call a "crap sandwich". Instead of pointing out every single thing I hated or that was wrong, I mix positive responses with constructive criticism. I'm not always the best at it, but it's something I'd like to continue to work on.
How about you? Do you give good feedback to the people around you?
Michelle definitely doesn't have too many different shades of red lipstick.