How to Give Feedback Diplomatically

giving feedbackby Jody Bruner

Have you ever had a colleague eagerly ask for feedback on a document only to have her face fall as you eagerly point out all the ways she could improve it? Why, you wonder, did she ask for help in the first place if she doesn’t really want it?

Most people–we’d even say all people–are sensitive about their writing. Our writing reveals so much about who we are that we don’t respond well when we’re hit by a barrage of criticism, however well-intended.

Receiving feedback has obvious benefits for the writer. It also has tremendous benefits for the reviewer. When you review someone else’s document it’s easy to achieve the objective distance you need to see how it can be improved. It’s far more difficult to achieve this objectivity with your own writing. And the better you get at looking critically at other people’s writing, the easier it becomes to look critically at your own writing.

In our writing courses, we include an opportunity to peer edit, once participants share a common language and criteria. Here’s how we recommend doing it:

1. Read the document twice–once for content and strategy, and once for structure, style and grammar. The first time you read it, you’ll notice style and grammar. The second time you’ll be more aware of the overall structure and strategy. Make note of the things that are successful, as well as the things you think could be handled differently.

2. Give the writer the good news first. There is always something positive to say and we learn a lot by seeing what we’re doing successfully. Also, people are more willing to hear your criticism if you first acknowledge their value.

3. Organize your critical feedback into two categories: global and local. The global feedback includes comments about structure, content and strategy. The local feedback addresses style and grammar. You may decide to withhold the local level feedback if the document needs to be restructured or rethought strategically, since chunks of it may need rewriting

7 Tips for Writing That’s Easy to Understand

email writing

by Jody Bruner

Readers are bombarded with documents today. Most of those documents never get read, let alone acted on, because they ramble and are poorly organized. If you worry that your own writing isn’t getting results, here are seven techniques to help you get to the point and organize your content so readers can quickly find what they’re looking for. Use them and I promise your messages will be easy to understand and remember, difficult to ignore! Read more

The Introvert Advantage

introvert presentationsby Linda Dunlop

Can introverts ace presentations? You bet we can! Case in point: Susan Cain, author of the runaway bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. As a studious introvert, Cain spent seven years in her element, quietly working on her book. Then came the hard part—selling her ideas to audiences. Read more

Email Hacks: Delay Send Rule

email hacks from homeby Jody Bruner

For many of us, working from home means more email than ever. I find the more emails I write and send, the more opportunities to get myself in trouble by being impatient and overly hasty. These two hacks help me slow myself down, so I’m not sending emails too quickly or at inappropriate times.    Read more

How to Find and Use Stories in your Presentations   

presentation idea using storytelling

by Jody Bruner

Have you noticed that everyone is telling stories lately? Google “storytelling in business,” and you’ll find marketers telling brand stories, trainers using stories to drive their points home and structure learning events,  leaders telling stories to inspire and motivate, and presenters telling stories to bring dry content to life and engage their audiences.  Read more