Feedback Rule 3: Be Solutions Focussed
Whenever you can, come to the feedback meeting with suggested alternatives for the piece of writing you are contributing to. Whether it’s individual words, the structure of a sentence, or the whole direction of a scene, come armed with other choices for your group to consider. By doing this you will:
Avoid wasting precious meeting time while everyone tries to come up with an alternative on the spot. And hurried alternatives are generally not very good.
Reduce the chance you will offend someone. A positive suggestion is always much easier to digest than a criticism.
Demonstrate that you have put a lot of thought into your reply, and thus show respect for your fellow writers.
It is possible to train all the members of your group into only giving feedback that meets the three Ss. One way is to take a section of prose and act out the ultimate unconstructive feedback scenario – insensitive, unspecific and not solutions-focused. Be as awful as you can. Now try it again. Make exactly the same points but following the three S’s. See how much time you saved? And – bonus – no-one left in a huff!
While you are still getting the hang of the three Ss, you might want to get a little shop-bell for your meetings and entrust its use to your Keeper of the Words (buy the book if you want more info on that!). When anyone breaks the three Ss rule in a major way, that person should ping the bell and say either: ‘More sensitive’, ‘Not specific enough’ or ‘solution please!’. It’s a bit like a lawyer objecting in court.
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