How to Ask for Feedback

Pt. 1 of 2

Feedback is an essential component of our growth and adaptation as human beings.

But a lot of people, myself included, aren't really great at asking for feedback in a meaningful and effective way.

If you're a (recovering) perfectionist or over-thinker, you may have a tendency to not want to share your work with anyone publicly until it's polished, perfect, complete, and self-scrutinized hundreds of times. Even then, you might not be ready.

But could that really be holding you back from making true progress?

Further, are you missing out on real, human connection by not being willing to be vulnerable and put yourself out there?

Now, it's probably a safer bet to share your important work and ideas with people you know, like, and trust.

But sometimes, those in our inner circle can be pretty biased, often wanting to make sure they prioritize your feelings over a logical outcome. Don't overlook getting a truly objective opinion, if the situation calls for it.

Whether you'd looking for a critique on your latest piece of artwork, a second look at a lengthy email to someone high on the ladder, or parenting advice when your teenage boys just broke the law and came to you first, knowing how to ask for feedback or support can be crucial in building your confidence as well as your ability to to see things from other perspectives.

Ultimately, asking for feedback can help you arrive at a efficient and effective outcome for you and others, and help build trust in the process.

How to Ask for Feedback

Let's assume that you've found someone that you trust to ask for feedback. With that in mind, here are five steps to maximizing your effort for a helpful outcome.

1) Set the stage

Ask the trusted person if they're open to providing feedback on something you're working on. This is called "priming", and shows that you are considering them, their time, and even their expertise (more on that below).

Most will say yes, especially if you have an existing relationship. Some will ask for more context before agreeing. A select few will say no. Pay attention to why.

Flatter as necessary.

No one is immune to a genuine compliment. Tell them why you value their opinion. Be specific:

"I wanted to see if you would be willing to help me with a challenge I'm having with a coworker. You're always great at dealing with interpersonal conflicts, and I thought you might have some helpful advice."

2) Give the appropriate context

Is this a life-altering scenario? Or something low-stakes, like a quick email review?

Be up front, it shows respect their time and expertise.

3) Ask for what you need, directly, and compassionately

Get specific. A confused mind will resist taking action. The more specific the request, the easier it will be for the other person to find the solution or related experiences in their mind and present it to you.

Here's a little comparison of a vague request, followed by a more specific version:

Don't say this:

"Can you help me with my resumé? I need to find a job."

Instead, say this:

"I'm applying for jobs and want to make sure my resumé and cover letter are reflecting my skills and interest in the roles I'm applying for. Can I share a few job postings, along with the application documents, for you to take a look at? Can you tell me what I'm missing?"

Don't say this:

"I want someone to look at my newsletter before I publish it. Can you give it a look?"

Instead, say this:

"I'm publishing my first newsletter article, and I want to make sure my tone is coming off as playful, yet discerning. Can you read it and let me know if that resonates, and what feelings this piece is evoking in you?"

Don't say this:

"I need to work out more. Anything you recommend?"

Instead, say this:

"I can't seem to find a workout routine that I can stay consistent with. Would you be open to sharing what you've tried, and how you landed on the exercises and schedule that works best for you?"

4) Agree on a reasonable timeline

You may need to tailor this based on the situation.

If you're on a tight timeline, share the ideal due date. Again, be direct, but compassionate. You might say:

"Ideally, I'd love to have it by next Thursday so that I can make the updates and finalize it by Friday."

Be respectful of their time. Be reasonable. If the person tells you they need a week, and it won't affect the outcome, give them a week.

Pro Tip: I like to take the approach of asking what works for them. This builds accountability and increases the likelihood that they will follow through, because you've put it on them to set the expectation.

5) Express gratitude and appreciation

This can't be overemphasized enough. We've all had the experience of being asked for a favor, and never getting even a simple "thank you" in return. It's not a good feeling. Don't be that person.

Find your own unique way to express gratitude and appreciation. Reciprocate the favor. Do something nice for them, unprompted.

If it's someone you know, like, and trust, the emphasis should be on relationship-building and being there for someone you care about, not simply exchanging transactions.

Even if you don't know the person well, pitching in when you can, expressing gratitude, and referring someone else to them for their expertise are all great ways to build relationships and trust.


I hope this inspires you and helps you gain more confidence in asking for feedback and support, so that you don't feel alone in the pursuit of joy & fulfillment in your life :)

A Bite of Wisdom

Check out our interview from Season 1 with Mike Ancona where he breaks down how to just start, keep showing up, and continually ask for feedback in order to make progress on your goals in life, career, creative projects, or anything else that brings you fulfillment.

Resource of the Week

Remember our piece on Managing the Sunday Scaries from a few weeks back? Well we're certainly not the only ones talking about it.

Check out this unique take on "Minimum Mondays" as an answer to the "Sunday Scaries," contributed by our friend, MJ, over at Spacetime Monotasking.

I love the approach, although I have to admit, I'm tend to have the total opposite energy on Mondays, feeling like I can take on the world. I guess that's the benefit for preserving the Sacred Sundays!

Let's Hear From You

Are you a "Minimum Monday" or "Maximum Monday" person? - Hit reply and let us know!

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See ya next week with part two of the series: How to Receive Feedback

🥯 Bagel 🥯