Feedback is often like exercise. We know we need it, but we also know that it might hurt. I got a healthy dose this last weekend. I was sitting in my office on Saturday afternoon finishing up the last revisions of chapter 7 of my next book. There are 10 chapters total, and I am in the final stretch. Each time I send a chapter to my editor, I tend to cringe….waiting for her to tell me all that is missing, unclear, and just outright BAD. I had taken a month off from the book for the moving of my house and my office. So this was my first chapter in about 6 weeks to work on. I was feeling a little bit rusty.
So it is Saturday afternoon, and I get the familiar ding of a new email. I see that it is from a woman who purchased my self-published book called “Dear Female Entrepreneur, My Friend”. Needless to say, she got the book, and she felt unsatisfied. She decided she needed to tell me how unhappy she was with her $11 purchase and that she felt ripped off. She said she felt that I was being “uncomfortably presumptuous” in my writing acting as if I knew her. She felt that it was full of “trite phrases” and that she was very disappointed in it. As many of you know, the book is a series of 31 letters from me to me. It is me writing a letter of encouragement to you. It is full of heart and feelings, not much fact.
So here is my confession and what I really need to say…..the email was mean. There is no other way to say it. It knocked me down. I sent her a very nice reply. I said these exact words. “I will gladly refund your money. I am so sorry that it was not what you expected. And thank you for your valuable feedback!” I sent her back her $11 within 20 minutes of her sending the email. I then had a good long cry in my office. Then I got myself together and sent in my next chapter to my editor.
Truthfully, I am thankful for her email. I DO need feedback…we all do. I don’t need people telling me all the time that I am wonderful or feeding my ego with false praise.
I disagree with the way the purchaser offered her feedback to me. If I purchase a book, I take the risk that the book might not have all of the answers I seek. I risk the fact that I might HATE the book or the author might have NO CLUE what she is saying. Even if that was the case, I would NEVER do this to an author or anyone else for that matter. I can learn something from every book or person that I come in contact with. I can choose to find value in every experience and every person I meet.
You might wonder about my tears. Well I am a girl, and every now and again I need to have a good old-fashioned cry. I sat there wondering if I should be writing at all. I thought about giving up. I gave in to the dark side for a few minutes and heard the old familiar words of “Who do you think you are to think you can write a book?” I felt the feelings wash over me like a wave of self-loathing and self-sabotage.
I then picked myself up, said a little prayer, and moved on. Therein lies the key. Get up and get over it! Live your mission and your purpose. As a Christian female entrepreneur, God has my back and He has called me to this. He never said it would be easy.
So this is really a thank you letter to the woman who will remain nameless. “I know you are scared. I know that this has nothing to do with me and my tiny little book of letters. I know that the book was full of way more feelings than you could handle. I am so sorry that I shook you up. I thank you for your feedback and the valuable life lesson. I am strong. I am committed. I am tenacious…and I am WORTHY.”
Let me share my takeaway and lesson from this…because there is ALWAYS a lesson.
Here are my 3 quick tips on feedback:
Tip #1: Ask permission If you want to share something that might help someone else, simply ask for permission. You can say, “Can I give you some feedback?” or “Would you like to hear my perspective on what you are saying?” Give them the chance to be ready or say that they are not ready. Don’t assume that you have the right to share all of your thoughts and opinions. Sometimes people are not ready. Sometimes we are not ready.
Tip #2: Take ownership Be honest about the fact that this is your “gut feeling” or your impression. It is not a fact, it might be just the small part that you have observed. Use I statements and do not add judgments.
Tip #3: Be kind Speak the truth in love. Be real. We all have enough to deal with each day without any added unkindness.
And YES….if you have any feedback for me on this article, I would welcome it. What is your experience with feedback?