Be honest about what kind of help you’re looking for

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“How can we help people understand that when they say ‘What do you think about my work?’ there is a difference between asking ‘I would like affirmation!’ and ‘I would like constructive feedback!’ because they are very different things?”

A reply from the Minister:

You know what I do?

I ask.

First? I always try and remember to ask. It doesn’t matter if I am standing in line at gate or I am judging a competition. I ask. It doesn’t matter if it is a friend or a stranger. I ask.

I start by asking.

“What kind of comments are you looking for?”

Something like that.

I don’t know what I am looking at. Is it their wedding dress? Is it something they made for their sick friend? Is it a first attempt?

I don’t know unless I ask.

And just because it is a display or a competition I still don’t assume. Sometimes people set up a display or enter a competition for different reasons. It is not always to have someone give their display or entry a hard look. And so I ask.

And by asking that gives me a chance to start a conversation. There’s a lot more we can and learn from each other if we’re actually talking and listening to each other.

Maybe they are looking for me to say “That’s really cool!” or “That’s really pretty!” and that’s all they need or want. That’s okay! Getting simple positive feedback can be good. Not everything needs to be detailed yet constructive feedback.

And maybe they are looking for some pretty specific help on only a certain part of what they are creating. That’s okay too. Sometimes we are able to give that kind of feedback too.

Now, that’s all on us, right?

We, given the position to offer feedback, are also in the position to figure out what kind of feedback we are giving.

It would be great if people asking for feedback would know how to articulate, up front, exactly what they are looking for. However, that doesn’t always happen. And, especially with newer artisans, they may not even know the difference.

If someone is asking us for help then we can help them first by asking what they are looking for from the start.

Now, what if you’re on the other side? What if you’re the person asking for help?

Think about what it is you’re looking for. What do you want? What to you need?

Be honest about what kind of help you’re looking for. Figure that out. And ask for that. If you’re not ready for constructive feedback then please do not ask for it. If you’re wanting some detailed criticism then ask at a time where we can give you a thorough and thoughtful answer.

That will help the person asking and the person responding.

If we’re talking then we can both figure it out from there. So let’s work together on it.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

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