Giving and receiving feedback is one of those things that's easy to recognize when it’s done well but few of us have a structure to make the process easier.
Much of the writing about feedback is directing towards managers but, as a designer, you can't control how your manager delivers critique. Some people are good at it but most, frankly, suck when it comes to providing clear, goal-based, feedback that gives their artist the freedom to solve problems and recognize when those problems are solved. Crazy since it's something we do every day.
As an artist the thing you can control is how you receive feedback and what clarifying questions you ask to better understand your clients goals. Liz Lerman’s is the first of a few feedback models that I’m going to feature. Try it out.
Each participant has a role (the Artist, the Respondees and the Facilitator) and the process has four steps:
1. Statement of meaning by the group. Each Respondee shares what is meaningful, evocative or interesting about the work being critiqued.
2. Questions by the artist for the group. The Artist asks specific questions of the Respondees.
3. Questions by the group for the artist. Respondees ask the Artist neutral questions about the work.
4. Opinions. Respondees offer opinions about the work.
It isn't practical to run through this whole script every time feedback is required but do it a few times and positive patterns for communication will emerge. The process can be truncated for shorter conversations once the group has a shared sense values and the ability to recognize helpful vs. unhelpful feedback.