What The Friday! Feedback; Not Emoticons

Remember that time you laughed hysterically at your mother’s horrible hair (that she spent a lot of time working on) to go to a Hootie and The Blowfish concert. And she was so insulted that she threw her spare change at you as she stormed out? (I may, on occasion, have been accused of being tactless.)

This is called feedback. (Albeit negative, it’s still feedback.)

Feedback is probably one of the most important parts of communication after listening.

When you have a conversation with someone, you have instant feedback, from their facial expressions and body language, not to mention the words that are actually coming out of their mouthes.

Online it’s completely different.  There is no immediate feedback. You send the email, and you wait.  Anxiously. Counting  down the clock until THE BOMB GOES OFF and you explode in a rambling mess of multiple emails.

Which is why I think business owners, and even (especially?) clients need to work harder at their online relationships by providing feedback.

When I first started copywriting, I put up an offer on a Facebook community that I’m part of, for free sales page makeovers. I had a number of people apply and I was excited to start building my street cred.

When I went to one of the pages, I realized that the woman didn’t really have a sales page. Since the promotion was for a sales page makeover, I emailed her.

I explained that the offer was for a sales page makeover and that she didn’t really have much for me to work with. I also noticed that she had 6 different packages and she seemed all over the place, so I offered her some feedback.

I told her it might be better to offer just 3 packages, and get more focused on what she was trying to offer. I wished her well, and told her once she got a sales page up, if she still wanted help, I would extend her the offer.

You know what she wrote back?


Not a ‘thank you’, or even a ‘go fuck yourself’. Nadda. Zip.


And you know what?

I would have appreciated her telling me to go fuck myself because at least she would be offering me feedback. (Also, I don’t take things too personally, and a lesser woman might be driven to tears.)

Did she appreciate what I had told her? Was it useful to her? (I notice on her website now there’s only 3 packages.) Was she insulted by it? Angered?

I’ll never know.

The fact remains; people are not mind readers. It’s too hard to infer tone in an email, text, or even a Facebook message.  How often do you see someone using emoticons to lessen the blow of a funny comment that might be taken as harsh?

Emoticons are the online versions of human feedback that people get with face-to-face communication. Obviously it’s nowhere near as expressive as a human face though.

That’s why online feedback (not emoticons!) is so important.

When I post my sales page on a group and I ask for feedback, you better be damn sure I want you to spell it out for me.

Don’t tell me it looks great. If it was that great I would be getting more clients.

Telling me it looks great doesn’t give me anything constructive that I can do to make it better.

When you post your sales page, or blog on a forum and ask for feedback, you better be damn sure I’m going to give you my opinion.

Maybe you’ll read it and say I’m full of shit. Fine.

Maybe you’ll read it and see that I can actually offer you some value. Great.  But don’t you dare post it asking for feedback, and then get upset when actual constructive criticism is given.

I certainly don’t offer people feedback to hurt their feelings. Feelings have no place when it comes to feedback. Leave them out of it, for the love of all that is holy! 

Feedback is there to help you get better. To improve your business. To improve your communication in business.

The next time someone sends you an email, or a Facebook message, acknowledge them. Even if it’s just a simple, ‘thanks!’

If someone gives you constructive criticism on a project, acknowledge them. “I really appreciate the feedback, thanks!” or “Thanks for taking the time to give me feedback. I’ll add this to my Evernote so I can look it over later.”

People are not mind readers. You can’t assume that people know that you appreciate something, especially online.

Some feedback, even negative feedback, is better than none at all. Except laughing hysterically at your mom’s terrible hair and having loose change whipped at you. That’s never good feedback. Too bad they don’t have an emoticon for that.



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Showing 9 comments
  • Kelly

    Here’s some feedback on your blog…I loved it – super funny and insightful. And I’m totally guilty of offering a “It’s so cute!” sort of feedback instead of getting more detailed. Your blog post really helped to see how that’s actually not helpful to folks. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Otiti

    Nathalie, I could worship at your feet right now. I LOATHE getting zero feedback when I write on my blog, share to groups, and do everything but parade naked down the street with a flaming bra in my hand. It’s like what the fuck do I have to do to get people to ENGAGE, for God’s sake!

    I’m with you all the way on this one. Tell it like it is, no bullshit, and for fuck’s sake, STAY CONNECTED. We spend far too much time up our own asses anyway. When did it become okay to live in a silent echo chamber?

  • Kaitlin

    HAHAHAHA YES! I fucking love this entry.

    Poor communication AND LACK OF FEEDBACK is the bane of my existence.

    I loathe sending emails and messages out into the ether like a beautiful bird, never knowing if it will return to my loving hands. NO FEEDBACK IS LIKE THE BEAUTIFUL BIRD DYING BUT NOBODY TOLD YOU THE BIRD DIED AND THEN YOU CRY A LOT BECAUSE YOU AREN’T SURE WHETHER IT DIED OR WHETHER IT MET ANOTHER NICE BIRD AND IS HAVING LITTLE BIRD BABIES!

    In short, bad communicators need to be slapped and schooled, hard! You know this is true, Nath!

    • Otiti

      LOL, Kaitlin! You’re my kinda gal.

      It’s just plain wrong to not give feedback because you’re “busy” or waxing your ass or whatever the fuck else you do when you can’t be bothered to let someone know that their message meant something or nothing to you. I mean, we make time for what’s important to us, innit? So zero feedback is basically saying it’s not even important enough to you. Ouch. Death to zero feedback!

      • nathalie poulin

        YES! I’m so glad you feel the same way about this that I do!!! DEATH TO ZERO FEEDBACK!

    • nathalie poulin

      Obviously I know this to be true! I love the bird analogy!

  • Kristen Jett

    Yes! This, precisely. I correlate this (and metaphor this) to the friends in high school who would cancel their plans, but never call you, so you just growled and did your own thing anyway. It takes under a minute to leave your opinions – or maybe we’ve all gotten too nervous about expressing our thoughts?

    One thing I do use when requesting feedback for websites or design projects is to ask specific questions – I’ve found clients (or forums) start thinking more objectively if you ask them a list of five or six things to mull over.

  • Chelsea Talks Smack

    Wonderful and so well said. That’s all that we want is to be SEEN, HEARD, VALIDATE….ACKNOWLEDGED. thumbs up.

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