Feedback is Essential for Community, Even if it is Negative

I recently wrote a blog post about this topic for an internal company community that I manage. Running an internal community is pretty interesting. Contrary to what people might think, it’s not the same as running an external, or public, community. For one thing, I’m finding that internal communities don’t need the “fluff” that an external community needs to attract members. I’m also finding that in the battle of function versus aesthetics, function always wins in the end. But there is one thing that both external and internal communities need to be successful, and that’s feedback.

photo credit: Feedback checklist via photopin (license)
photo credit: Feedback checklist via photopin (license)

Feedback is essential because without it, you can’t be sure if your community is actually adding value or serving its members the way it needs to be. The word “community” applies to your own personal one as well, not just to those official corporate internal or public community forums. When we post things on our social networks, we automatically look for feedback. The feedback can come in the form of likes, retweets, comments, +1’s, etc. Receiving, or in some cases not receiving, that feedback shapes what we share. We view the positive reinforcement as validation for what we are doing and are therefore encouraged to continue down the road we are going.

But sometimes the feedback isn’t positive, and that’s ok too. Not everyone will agree with what you’ve posted or shared. When you receive negative feedback, it’s good to take a step back and think about what was said. If you’re like me, you’re probably itching to respond right away and defend your position, but a knee-jerk defensive reaction isn’t always a good idea. Sometimes the negative comments have validity, and that has to be taken into consideration along with the fact that people are entitled to their own opinions. Negative comments should cause us to pause and think about our position, and either rethink or affirm our original stance.

Feedback is important because it helps evaluate your own thoughts. For example, I thought this was a pretty interesting shot when I took it, but the non responses proved me wrong, and that's totally ok!
Feedback is important because it helps evaluate your own views. For example, I thought this was a pretty interesting shot when I took it, but the non responses proved me wrong, and that’s totally ok because when I started out I thought every shot I took was good.

If you do disagree with something though, do it in a constructive way. Sure you’re free to comment how you’d like, but disagreeing constructively leads to conversation, which is much better than the alternative. I recently wrote a blog post, Are You a Social Media Jack of all Trades, But Master of None?, and a friend of mine, Vitus Feldmann, commented but didn’t quite agree with everything that I said. I was quite impressed with the way he did it, and it should be used as an example on how to disagree. He spoke his mind, but gave reasons as to why he disagreed, and he chose his tone carefully so that it didn’t come across as abrasive. The result? Continued the conversation with Vitus on Facebook, and I respect him for now for it.

Negative feedback is often viewed negatively, but it shouldn’t always be see that way. How you choose to comment is just as important as the comment itself, so choose your words and tone carefully, and always think before responding. How do you deal with negative feedback? How do you communicate negative feedback to others?

4 thoughts on “Feedback is Essential for Community, Even if it is Negative

  1. 🙂 I am glad I did everything right with my feedback on your last post, Jason! I have to admit that I am not always that good with my feedback. I sometimes forget the advice you just gave in your post, step back and collect yourself. Your advice is important and helps with the tone and often with the content of the feedback. And with all that, in relationship building.

  2. What a great reminder! Lots of reminders, actually. It’s so easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and respond to the negative feedback, but I’ve found lately that there’s a lot of satisfaction in NOT responding. Or responding with more grace than the criticism warranted. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s