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Getting Apps Done

How to ACCEPT Feedback

December 05, 2019

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We’ve talked about how important feedback is in the past, but how do you give good feedback? Joshua and Kel talk about how to give feedback people will appreciate and value.

Be sure to check out our new Slack community to meet others who are facing the same things you are and share your journeys!

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  • 00:00 Getting Apps Done

    Corrected transcripts are on the way!

  • 00:01 Joshua

    Hey folks, welcome to getting apps done. A mostly nontechnical podcast about building software. I'm your host, Joshua.

  • 00:11 Kel

    And I'm Kel.

  • 00:12 Joshua

    And on the podcast, instead of talking about syntax and frameworks and other technical things related to software development, we talk about more practical and less technical things. Uh, as we say, it is mostly nontechnical. Last week we were talking about giving feedback because we think feedback's really important. We talk about feedback quite a bit and a lot of different contexts and I realized that actually there was something that we probably both need to completely admit and fess up to and talk about. We both suck at receiving feedback and a lot of ways, I know personally I am very, very prone to being very defensive about receiving feedback because it's very easy to take feedback personally and not see it as a tool.

  • 00:58 Kel

    And we talked, I mean, we kind of briefly touched on that, but we talked about it from the person giving the feedback side, right? Like that. Yeah. People don't like it when you're mean to them. And we kind of approached it from that direction. But yeah, it's a little bit more honest to say that. Yeah, when people give me feedback, my first response is always wait, no, no, I am right. I am fine. Everything is great. And yeah, like your, your first instinct is defense and that's not the best way to receive feedback.

  • 01:25 Joshua

    No, I and feedback is there to help us. It is to point out things that we wouldn't have known otherwise or wouldn't have noticed yet. Or just to give you a different point of view and that point of view and that feedback first off isn't necessarily right or it can be absolutely right and you can be absolutely right or you can both be completely wrong. It's not something to immediately just take offense at because it's just, it's information. That's all it really is, is information to do with as you please.

  • 01:56 Kel

    And there's definitely the, you know, the perspective, like this might be what they're seeing from their point of view, which makes me think of like star Wars and Obi Wan talking about, it's true from my point of view. Um, but your point of view when you're looking at these feedbacks or when you're giving feedback is definitely different than the point of view of the person who wrote it, who didn't even think of these things. Um, so you have to take that into account. You have to think about that when people are giving you feedback, but they're doing it from their point of view, the things that they've encountered that they're worrying about and not necessarily from, you know, how much effort you put into it and how much they're hitting it with a hammer.

  • 02:33 Joshua

    Yeah. And that is, and that's probably one of the big things there is software developers or creators to various extensive, but in general, all of us are creating things, whether it's pretty things or not debate a whole, but we're all creating something and we're putting effort into it and we're pouring a part of us into that. And it's very easy to start to take offense very quickly because when somebody saying that something that's a part of you isn't good, I mean, why would you not be offended and you're not looking at it from, I know personally, for example, if a client comes to me and says, I think this red thing is horrible, why did you make this stupid thing red? And I'm thinking, well, you know, because I've got a lot of experience in user experience development and when it's red that makes it much more clear that this is danger or for whatever the valid reasons are that they may be infinitely valid. But when it comes down to it, they're the client and they're just another human being who has a different point of view and a different opinion on that. They might just absolutely hate the color red because I had on, they might be colorblind or they might have another reason that they just don't like the color red for whatever reason, their colors actually, you know, I don't know that there are any colors that I just don't like at all.

  • 03:49 Kel

    And, uh, in terms of like read specifically, I'm going to derail you before we go on to a discussion about our favorite colors. Mine's orange, bright orange specifically. Um, but the like red for example, is a great a point of view. One because we think of red is danger. It's bad. That is a cultural thing. If you go onto Wikipedia and look at the history of rad, you will not get that as a forever thing. There are places where read the don't ask me for them right now cause I do not remember off the top of my head. But like red and green specifically are not necessarily good and bad and red and green specifically are kind of help [inaudible] not very useful for people who are red, green, colorblind, they go back to your example.

  • 04:28 Joshua

    Well absolutely. And there are a lot of reasons why that might not work for somebody. So in that particular case, I can see why I would immediately be upset about this because they're basically saying that this knowledge and experience that I have from building software doesn't mean anything to them. And that's, that's my immediate reaction. That's not what they're saying though at all. They are just saying I don't like the color red or I don't think the color red works for me in this situation it's valid information. I need to take that on board without completely freaking out at them and saying, you know what, I've got 20 years experience and you don't know what you're talking about. And you know I've actually seen developers do exactly that.

  • 05:04 Kel

    I have absolutely seen that discussion in meetings with clients and that's a common thing. People get defensive like this is a very normal thing to do. It's like your default reaction and to an extent like I feel like the language itself will fight you on this of like the, the first thing when somebody gets, does something incorrect like does a math problem incorrectly the way you phrase that as you're wrong. And like even the, the phrasing of that is well I am wrong. No I'm not. And like, like no. And so you get like immediately defensive. It like is like the language itself is like pushing you towards being defensive and that's not going not going to work. And obviously we don't want the screaming match with the client. You know, just in a normal environment and professional setting. Kinda hate using that word too, but um, you don't want to do that. You want, you want to be talking to folks and having a good conversation and actually passing information and getting useful feedback. Certainly in any professional or

  • 05:58 Joshua

    otherwise, it doesn't matter. You shouldn't be yelling and shouting at each other. You should be able to discuss this like fricking adults, you know?

  • 06:05 Kel

    I mean, yeah,

  • 06:08 Joshua

    it's not even just the language. It's actually the culture around this, because we've talked about this before. Failure. We've talked a lot about failure and it's directly related here, right? The moment somebody criticizes something that you've done, even if it's constructive criticism, you immediately feel that as a failure and because of the way our culture is, failure's bad, we immediately want to react negatively toward that because it feels really negative to us. Instead of just accepting that, actually I could be completely wrong on this. I might have screwed this one up. It happens. We'll learn from it and move on.

  • 06:42 Kel

    It definitely has an impact. Like when like the failure and the people telling you that you're wrong, all these things kind of have the same and response of like kind of a shame. Like there it feels like someone is shaming you whether they are or not. Like in constructive feedback that's usually, no, no, no. It's just this product you could have done this better. I have experienced that. I want to share with you that you know, red and green are actually two terrible colors as indicators because a whole lot of the population can't distinguish the two. And so that's something you have to be mindful of and that's kind of where this kind of, how you approach this. When people are giving you feedback, that's kind of where you have to start is you have to acknowledge that your first reaction is going to be to be defensive and then just keep that in mind and keep that in mind and don't immediately respond with that.

  • 07:26 Kel

    Respond. What's what's after defensive like, okay, you just said that. I don't like that. I'm angry. Wait, that's fine. And then move on. It's kind of, I lie at least approach it. Like when people are saying that just the other day I was gonna have you proofread a blog post and your comment like how brutal do you want it? And my first thought was like, Oh, I'm going to get so angry if it's like totally awful. And then I'm like, and that's okay, we'll move on past that step to step to where I actually go and fix all my sentences and words, solids.

  • 07:55 Joshua

    I really liked that because again, back to failure, I know that I've struggled with this my entire life. It hasn't really gotten any better. I still, my immediate reaction is still bad and it's, I've always felt that that's a horrible thing and I should fix that somehow. But actually that's a natural reaction. That's normal. Particularly given the way we're brought up, the way that our culture works at the moment. That's just the way it's going to be. And yes, you can improve that, but it's never just going to go away completely because you feel what you feel and accepting the fact that yes, I feel that way. But then changing your reaction that I think is actually a success is not a failure that you still feel it. It's a success that actually you've changed the way you react to that. And I like thinking about it that way. I, I have thought about it that way in the past, but it's really nice and somebody else says it and you yeah, with that.

  • 08:54 Kel

    Absolutely. Like it's, it's

  • 08:56 Joshua

    a kinda get philosophical there cause it's kind of the human condition, right? That you feel a whole lot of things that you have zero control over. Um, and you know, that definitely includes emotions. Like our emotions are terribly wobbly of, you know, when we get afraid we don't get like the correct amount of fear for the situation. We get exaggerated fear or not nearly enough or like we don't have control over these inputs. And that's just, that is the kind of the human condition that I though were wobbly and acknowledging it is okay. Like you can totally just go, okay, well that's going to happen occasionally and then I'm going to do something else instead because I'm a thinking person and I can do that. I have control over this scenario. Like I can be angry immediately and then immediately deal with and not act on that anger.

  • 09:38 Joshua

    And that's kind of what you talk about when you're, you're an adult. I don't immediately act on my emotions. I don't punch things because I'm suddenly angry. I, you know, take a second and think about it first. Absolutely. And I mean I've got kids, they, and it varies, you know, the one year old, when he's angry, we know about it. There's nothing stopping that. It's just screaming and ranting and throwing things at us. And that's fine because he's one year old, he'll figure it out, I hope one day. And then you know, the eight year old, sometimes it's screaming and ranting and throwing things, but sometimes you know, it goes and screams in a pillow if that's what's appropriate to deal with that, that's fine. Whereas the 11 year old is starting to get to the point that usually can control what's going on in can, you know, ball up fists, walk away and deal with it separately most of the time. And I think that's, that's okay. That's normal. That's exactly what it is. They're feeling these things and as you get toward being an adult and having adult conversations and dealing with other adults, you should be in a position where you can ball up your fist a little bit, grant and move on.

  • 10:42 Kel

    I will mention that to an extent. You, you do want to talk about these things like talking about your feelings. This is why we have therapists. That's why we have friends that we can talk to about like the, the things we're struggling with. Like you don't want to just bottle this and you can totally let it out. But it's definitely not constructive. When this context where we were talking about feedback on, Hey, can you read a blog post and proofread it for me or, you know, give me feedback. If it doesn't make any sense or um, you know, just meandering and no one cares. Like that's the feedback I'm asking for and being angry about that is kind of pointless. So

  • 11:14 Joshua

    yeah, absolutely. And I think that's actually a really good thing to look at from the point of view of how do you improve this for yourself. And one of those things is having an outlet, having somebody you can talk to him. I can tell you right now when the client comes and tells me that he doesn't want the thing to be red, I'm talking to Cal, this stupid client and I get it all out in a place that's safe somewhere where it's not going to hurt anybody's feelings. Kel doesn't care one way or the other. I think this client is stupid or if they want it red or not. And by the time I'm done with that, I've kind of calmed down and I can go back to the client and I can have a proper discussion with them. And again, once you have got yourself in that place where you're not overreacting, reacting incorrectly, then it's good to talk about it. Go back to the client. Okay. What is it that you don't like about it being red? Why shouldn't we have it red? Here are some logical reasons why we might want it to be red, but I'm listening to what you're saying. I'm open to a discussion here

  • 12:09 Kel

    and then and that kind of thing. Were you receiving those types of feedback? Well, why don't you want it read? Like you kind of goes back to all of our conversations about conversations and context and learning their points of view of, well tell me like what, how did you get to this stage where you think that the, you know, the no button should not be read? Like what, what is it that drives you to that? Unfortunately, a lot of people won't know. Um, a lot of people are kind of like their opinions just kind of shoot from the hip of, that's just my opinion. I have no idea why I like that. And that's a thing. It happens. Um, but most people, or at least a lot of people are aware of why they like and don't like things and you can kind of dig into that by asking questions and getting their context and most people love talking about themselves as we've said before, I've been, I do, this is why I'm on a podcast. Um, so there are plenty of opportunities to dig into those things and like did get the better feedback

  • 12:59 Joshua

    and that can also help you. I mean I certainly when you start to dig into that, Hey, why don't you like the color red for this? And they might have something in their field that causes it or that, is there a valid reason that that suddenly isn't something that has to do with you? You didn't bomb on this, there was just information you didn't have and that can make it a lot easier for you as well because suddenly it takes away that personal feeling of it. It's suddenly not an attack on you or your skills or anything to do with you. It's back to again what we said in the first place. It is new information. It's more variables so that you can learn a little bit here and do a better job.

  • 13:37 Kel

    Going back to what you're talking about, like the language itself and the culture kind of fighting you in this of uh, a really common thing to go this well that's stupid is what you'll hear. And if you actually look at that and like kind of every time you hear that, just kind of look at the situation and the conversation and think, is this actually ignorance that we're talking about? Like is this something they don't know or that they don't understand and that's causing this misunderstanding. And it almost always, always, always is actually ignorance, not anything else. Like we're using almost the wrong word most of the time for this scenario. Um, so yeah, more information

  • 14:11 Joshua

    for information. Now there is one caveat to that and it's probably worth discussing. Sometimes feedback is really bad at not the comments on the internet. Yes, we are all on the internet. We know exactly how bad feedback can be. Sometimes people just are not trying to be constructive. They're not trying to be helpful in any way. They actually are attacking you personally. Or I've actually had clients come back to me and say, this is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. And again, immediate reaction is what, what did you just say to me? You realize I'm a professional. Right? And you know, again, it's the wrong reaction. You can change that. A lot of the same rules apply. You can still start to ask questions. Okay, so what about it is dumb? Why do you think this is stupid? And they might actually have a valid reason. They might not. And again, you just, you can't take it personally. It's a lot about just kind of putting that away and understanding that this is a funky world that we live in.

  • 15:11 Kel

    My, my own way of dealing with, which might be helpful for some people. And that type of scenario is that is the same reaction that your toddler is having of they're pushing your buttons. They're whatever buttons they can find, they are pushing them. Um, and so how do you react to a kid child that does that? Like you don't punch the kid hopefully. Um, I mean there are days you wonder, does this kid really kid? Um, but no, you don't, you, you talk to the kid, you discuss it, you or you ignore them. One of the two. So like that, that's kind of the approach I take to it is I just think of them more or less as a child screaming at me and I move on with my life. I don't take, yeah, I just kind of just, okay, well they never grew up. I mean I never grew up either. That's fine, but yeah, I'm just going to kind of ignore you and that is a valid, that is a perfectly okay thing to do. You do not have to listen to somebody's feedback. Ignoring them is a perfectly okay thing to do. We've talked about consent before. That is the default way to say no is to simply ignore them.

  • 16:16 Joshua

    I was actually going to mention exactly that. I have one very important thing here is obviously if feedback is abusive, you don't have to take that shit walk away and sometimes that's much easier said than done, but the reality is life is short. You don't need to deal with any of that crap if they are incapable of controlling themselves and dealing with you appropriately, get away as quickly as you can because that's not something you want to be around. Certainly not something I want to be around. I don't know anybody who really would want to. So yeah, I think it's probably something worth saying just that you are allowed to tell them, no, I'm not interested in your feedback anymore and walk away. Yeah.

  • 16:59 Kel

    Oh, that's very important for a lot of things in life. But yeah, definitely on feedback

  • 17:03 Joshua

    it is and sometimes I think with some of these things we kind of need permission for those things. We need permission to be immediately angry when somebody gives us negative feedback, we need permission to tell people, no, I don't want any more feedback from you and take away that consent or if it was ever given in the first place because obviously not everybody's okay with this and they will give you feedback whether you want it or not and you have every right to tell them, I don't want your feedback.

  • 17:29 Kel

    Exactly. That sums it up pretty nicely.

  • 17:31 Joshua

    So I think that's probably it actually, there's a lot more to this. There are always nuances and extras and other things in different situations and contexts, but I think if you can kind of follow along with those, just understand that as we say, it's not a personal thing. It is more information. Treat it as,

  • 17:50 Kel

    treat it as another variable in an algorithm if that's what helps you get through it, be prepared to be defensive about it. Like that's probably going to be your first reaction. Especially if somebody kinda hits you in a blind spot where you're like, I didn't even consider that I did something different because of these reasons. Like your first reaction is going to be all defensive and just acknowledge that and be ready for it and then move on. Yeah, and that's particularly true if you really did screw up, because again, it's probably even worse if it actually did something that we screwed up is a little embarrassing when you're like, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, embarrassment is also like the pro, the valid corral, most correct way of experiencing that moment of, oops, but it's okay. Like you'll, you'll be literally embarrassed. Your ears will turn right if you're like me and then you'll go on because it is okay. It is okay to be wrong. Like we've said so many times before, failure's okay and you'll learn from it and you'll move on or you learn from it and you won't move on and you'll have it again. It doesn't matter. You're a growing human being and we all are and that is just what it is.

  • 18:58 Kel

    I think that sums it up nicely. I think I already said we had some set up nicely, but that sums it up again. We'll just keep summing it up until we're tired of it.

  • 19:07 Joshua

    All right. I will put transcripts Please be sure to check out my website at Joshua. Granddad info and Kel's website at if you have received feedback and reacted poorly or really well or have some tactics for how you deal with that because I obviously we have some certain points of view, we have things that work really well for us, but there are lots and lots of different ways to change your reactions to things or to control your own reactions. And again, don't think that you have to not feel those things, but finding a way that helps you control that reaction is great. So if you've got any great tips for that or anything that works for you, pop onto our Slack slash Slack and we'd love to hear about those. We'd love to share with you, I'd love to just discuss this because I'm not a lot of people talk about this sort of thing and it's really good to talk about because we all face these things every day. So it's worth discussing

  • 20:03 Kel

    and you can always give us feedback on our feedback episodes and then we can get defensive about them and talk about that as well. And it'll just be this kind of ongoing Mehta discussion. It'll be great.

  • 20:12 Joshua

    Yeah. All right. We post every week, so we'll be back next Thursday. Until then. Thanks for listening.

  • 20:19 Kel


  • 08:55 Joshua