Chapter 8: Feedback in the Writing Process

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
    –Winston Churchill

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.
    –Dale Carnegie

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.
    –Abraham Lincoln

Speaking is silver, listening is gold.
    –Turkish proverb

Getting Started

Introductory Exercises

  1. Find a news Web site that includes a forum for reader comments on the articles. Read an article that interests you and the comments readers have posted about it. Please share your results with classmates.
  2. Interview a colleague, coworker, or someone in a business or industry you are involved or interested in. Ask them how they receive feedback about their work. Please share your results with classmates.
  3. Review a document (online or offline) and create at least two different examples of how a reader may respond to the content and presentation. Please share your results with classmates.

The feedback loop is your connection to your audience. It’s always there, even if you haven’t noticed it. In today’s business environment, across a variety of careers and industries, people are taking serious note of the power of feedback. How does a viral marketing campaign take off? How does an article get passed along Twitter? How does a movie review, and its long list of discussion thread comments, influence your viewing decisions? How do Wikipedia, the Global Business Network, or customer book reviews on Amazon.com impact us, alter our views, or motivate us to write?

“The feedback loop provides you with an open and direct channel of communication with your community, and that represents a never-available-before opportunity” (Powel, 2009). The feedback on what you write has never been as direct and interactive as today’s online environment can provide, and the need to anticipate, lead, listen, and incorporate lessons learned has never been greater. This chapter examines feedback in its many forms and how it can and will have an impact on what you write, and how you write it.

What you write does not exist in a vacuum, unaffected by the world around it. It may be that what you write is read by a relatively small group of readers, or by a large target audience who may have only read a few of your messages. Either way, what you write is part of the communication process, and it makes an impact whether you know it or not.

This chapter recognizes the writing process and its components with an emphasis on feedback. Do you know the difference between indirect and direct feedback? Are you aware of effective strategies to elicit valuable feedback? How do you know if the feedback is valid? To what extent, and in what ways, should you adapt and adjust your writing based on feedback? These are central questions in the writing process, and any skilled business writer recognizes the need for improvement based on solid feedback. You may not always enjoy receiving feedback, but you should always give it due thought and consideration. Failure to change and adapt has many unfortunate consequences (Johnson, 1998). It is up to you to seek good information and to separate the reliable from the unreliable in your goal of improving your business writing.

References

Johnson, S. (1998). Who moved my cheese? An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Powel, J. (2009). 33 million people in the room: How to create, influence, and a run a successful business with social networking. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press/Pearson Education.

This is a derivative of Business Communication for Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, which was originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA. This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.