Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of UX design that helps communicate ideas, build relationships, and encourage personal development. Receiving guidance is a key part of the contemporary working culture within teams and cross-team collaboration. Despite its many benefits and irreplaceable role in the design process, feedback can be uncomfortable to give or receive.
In this blog, you learn how to create a culture of guidance with our five tips on how you can make the most of feedback. These tips are inspired by Radical Candor by Kim Scott, who has years of experience in Silicon Valley and shares insightful advice on honest guidance or “how to get what you want by saying what you mean”.
If you want to receive honest and meaningful feedback, you need to set an example in your team. Request feedback and show that it can be taken well, even if it’s received in front of everyone. Start by requesting criticism from people who are comfortable giving it and address points that you can work on. This way, you can set the model that feedback and discussion help the whole team function better. Sharing criticism with the entire team is efficient as it saves you from repetition because you involve everybody simultaneously. A good reaction to criticism helps build trust and credibility – either as a reliable colleague to collaborate with or as a strong leader of a team.
Listen to understand, not to respond
A key part of feedback is receiving it well. Listen to understand the other person’s point of view. Don’t criticise their feedback or be defensive. Even if you feel it is unfair, it gives you an opportunity for a discussion that will provide clarity to both sides.
Negative reactions to feedback can discourage people from showing candour, meaning they could be much less likely to provide feedback of a critical nature again. A helpful tip is to accept feedback as an opportunity to discover and improve a particular aspect of your work that you might overlook alone. Remember to listen with the intention to understand and not to be defensive.
Give precise criticism
- The situation
- The behaviour (positive or negative)
- The impact you observed
The same technique is used for giving positive feedback. For example, “They gave the clearest explanation I’ve heard of why users don’t like that feature” instead of “They did a great job”. By describing the positive or negative aspects, you are helping someone see and work on both the good and bad and improve.
Give feedback immediately
It’s best to give feedback as soon as possible and informally. You can use the “situation behaviour impact” model right away and keep everything in context. The longer you delay, the more details you can miss meaning that you risk making the feedback irrelevant. It’s easier to give feedback as soon as the person is available rather than waiting to schedule further calls and meetings.
Of course, this rule should be used with discretion; for example, if you form the opinion that somebody doesn’t seem in the right frame of mind or that, for whatever reason, they are not in a position to be receptive to feedback, then it’s fine to use your judgement and delay your response.
Track and improve your feedback
Giving helpful feedback can be a tricky task. We must take signals from others and use this to inform how we provide feedback. Look out for visual cues that might help you gauge how your feedback is being received and discuss best practices with your team if required. Use this learning to help you improve the techniques you use when giving feedback. By involving your team in discussions surrounding feedback that outline the benefits, such as professional development and better output, they can get on board with helping create an open and honest work culture.
UX design is a collaborative process. We communicate our ideas in many ways, such as through presentations or discussions with colleagues, project leaders, clients or stakeholders. Conveying the idea or story behind a project is just as important as showing the visual part of it, and being receptive to feedback can help elevate this all-important element of your job as a UX designer. Criticism should be a helpful tool that helps us clarify and refine our work toward projects with a strong narrative. So, use these tips to maximise how your team gives and receives feedback and watch your service offering soar!