Offering The Gift Of Feedback


Arlene Knickerbocker

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Leadership and management expert Dr. Ken Blanchard said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

Recently I found myself energized when I received an email message from someone who had read my latest nonfiction book. She told me how it had impacted her life and how she was sharing information she had learned with others.

The sun seemed brighter that day. After all, I had hoped and prayed my book would make a difference in readers’ lives.

Technology has accelerated opportunities to connect—to encourage (or discourage) writers.

I remember the first time I met an author many years ago. Her small picture and author’s profile on the books gave me all the information I knew about her personally—yet I felt a connection.

A friend introduced me to Eugenia Price’s books; and after I read them, I passed them to another friend. The three of us met her at one of her book signings. That was the only time I remember having an opportunity to respond to an author’s work face to face in that era. She has died, but her books remain in my bookcase and remain in my mind.

Writing used to feel like a lonely job. Now, I meet in person and online with other writers and readers regularly. Social networking has opened the floodgates to all kinds of interaction. I believe people find much fulfillment from interacting with others. Giving and receiving feedback provides growth opportunities we all need.

Every time, I receive an unsolicited good review on, I feel encouraged. When a troll posted a bad review, it stung even though I knew she had never even read my book.

I find it interesting that the Hebrew term Devorah means both honeybee and word. Both have the potential to sting or to nourish.

Writing for publication leaves one vulnerable. Not everyone will like what we write. Sometimes people ask me to critique or edit their writing, and I don’t like what they’ve written. I struggle to give an honest response that will offer hope.

Toastmasters International exists to develop communication and leadership skills. I belong to a local Toastmasters club where we evaluate each other with “glows and grows.” We learn to offer a “sandwich” approach, telling others something they did well (glow), telling them some way to improve (grow), and telling them another thing they did well (glow).

This approach seems to work well when I critique others’ writing as well. In fact, I wish I had practiced this “sandwich” method when my children were young and needed evaluations on their words and actions.

Here are three important elements to helpful feedback on communication (written or verbal):

  1.  Show respect – Never attack a person’s character. Only offer improvement suggestions on the writing/speaking, not the writer/speaker. Value the person and think how what you say will affect your relationship.
  2. Offer objective feedback – Don’t say, “This is wrong.” Use phrases such as, “You might consider…”
  3.  Offer specific feedback- Be clear about what you like and specific ways you think a person could improve the material.

Let’s take advantage of opportunities to encourage one another with effective feedback as we strive to choose words that will make a difference in our world.


For more information about Arlene Knickerbocker and her work, follow these links.

Arlene Knickerbocker is the author of 12 Ways to Make Your Words Count, which is available in print, audio book CDs, and Kindle formats. Her website offers discounted pricing.

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