If someone gives you some feedback that consists of “This Sucks” — what do you do?

There are a few reactions you could have.

One reaction you could have is to get defensive. Another is to go on the offensive. And another is to Get Productive.

This post was inspired by a tweet from Scott Berkun.

Depending upon who the person is that is giving this feedback there are a few things to consider.

First off … exactly who is this person. Are they a contributing member to the project for which the feedback is being given. Are they the project leader? Your manager? The customer?

Any of these roles have a legitimate say and their feedback should be considered.

Second – Ask for Clarity. What specifically and exactly are they suggesting.

If someone is bold enough to offer you feedback you have the right to ask what they mean. You can ask for clarity from anyone that is offering you feedback. You can decide how to take this feedback. You can also decide on how or if you will respond to this feedback.

Unwanted Feedback

What if the person is NOT a stakeholder? What if the person only wants to throw cold water on your ideas? What if they are just trying to get a rise out of you?

There is a technique called Fogging that you may want to employ. It’s quite simple to use and can be used as many times as necessary.

Fogging is a way of engaging the person by agreeing with what they say and asking them for more. Eventually they will get bored with the idea of having their unwanted feedback turned back on them.

For Example: Someone my say “you should be embarrassed by the work you did here” and you can reply “Yeah, a few other people said that too. What else did you think about it?”

They will likely come up with another zinger … or at least an attempt at something that they hope will get a rise out of you or that they think will elevate them in front of the group. You can just reply again with something that agrees with their statement and ask them for something else they noticed.

If the Feedback Provider is persistent, but cannot or will not provide concise feedback you may want to respond with something like this:

If you cannot summarize your ideas … your ideas may not be ready for prime time.

Just Remember…Feedback Works 

How you decide to use it is up to you.

My recommendation is … Don’t get Mad … Get Productive.


Jeff  is a veteran in the Enterprise Content Management industry. Over the past 20 years he has worked with customers and partners to design, develop and deploy solutions around the world. Jeff is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances at Winshuttle. He has worked for Microsoft, FileNet (IBM), K2, Captaris, Open Text, Kofax and Kodak. He speaks and blogs about ECM and the Intersection between Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing.