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Giving feedback

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  • Kay A. Pentecost
    Hi, Everybody, In a medium like this, it s important to test your assumptions before judging others on them. We all know that. So why am I bringing it up?
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 21, 2005
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      Hi, Everybody,

      In a medium like this, it's important to test your assumptions before
      judging others on them. We all know that.

      So why am I bringing it up?

      Many of us have learned to start our feedback with identifying the
      assumptions that we are making about the attitude or intention of the
      poster.

      We start our posts with something like "I feel you saying that..." or "you
      seem to me be saying..." and then we identify some problem.

      Like, "you seem to me to be saying that x should be abolished."

      This is an excellent (IMHO) thing to do, because it tells the other person
      how you have received their message.

      And yet, if we then go on to say "abolishing x would be totally stupid,"
      *without* first asking for confirmation that you have received the right
      message... we are manipulating the other person to a point of defensiveness
      if you didn't get the message they intended.

      We could start to avoid that by starting the judgement with something like
      "IF that is indeed what you mean..." Then we could continue to tell them
      that abolishing x would be totally stupid. <grin>

      Better, however, would be to wait until the other has confirmed that they
      did, indeed mean that "x should be abolished," before telling them how
      incredibly stupid they are. <grin> (obviously on this list we try to phrase
      that a little gentler. Well, most of the time, anyway.)

      That gives the other the chance to say "No, I meant what I said, that *only*
      if Y and Z did not exist should x be abolished."

      Stating your assumptions about another person's attitude, intention or
      belief and then berating them on your assumptions about them without waiting
      for confirmation that you have understood them correctly may save time on a
      list like this where waiting for confirmation may take longer than you wish
      to wait....

      Is just about as bad as hacking off code because you don't have time to do
      it test-driven....

      Well, that's what I think, anyway.


      Kay Pentecost
    • Dale Emery
      Hi Kay, ... That s my preference, too. I find it much easier to do in face-to-face or phone conversations, where I can get the person s confirmation or
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 21, 2005
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        Hi Kay,

        > Better, however, would be to wait until the other has confirmed
        > that they did, indeed mean that "x should be abolished," before
        > telling them how incredibly stupid they are. <grin>

        That's my preference, too. I find it much easier to do in
        face-to-face or phone conversations, where I can get the person's
        confirmation or disconfirmation quickly. And I try to do it online
        much of the time.

        For online conversations, I often have a competing preference. I want
        to offer ideas or comments or questions while they are timely.
        Sometimes I lean toward confirming my assumptions. Other times I lean
        toward timeliness, and that's when I use the "second best" option of
        making my assumptions explicit, and my comments contingent on my
        assumption being true.

        At least, that's what I do when I'm aware of making assumptions. When
        I'm not aware of that, I don't do either of these things.

        I'm not sure how I decide, when I'm aware of making assumptions,
        whether to lean toward confirmation or timeliness. I wonder what
        would happen if I were to weigh confirmation more highly.

        Dale
      • Kay A. Pentecost
        Hey, Dale, ... Yes, and you succeed a lot, too. I actually was thinking of your asking for confirmation when I posted. I think we talked about this once
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 21, 2005
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          Hey, Dale,

          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
          > [mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Dale Emery
          > Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 6:02 PM
          > To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
          > Subject: [XP] Re: Giving feedback
          >
          >
          >
          > Hi Kay,
          >
          > > Better, however, would be to wait until the other has confirmed
          > > that they did, indeed mean that "x should be abolished," before
          > > telling them how incredibly stupid they are. <grin>
          >
          > That's my preference, too. I find it much easier to do in
          > face-to-face or phone conversations, where I can get the person's
          > confirmation or disconfirmation quickly. And I try to do it online
          > much of the time.

          Yes, and you succeed a lot, too. I actually was thinking of your asking for
          confirmation when I posted. I think we talked about this once before on the
          list.


          >
          > For online conversations, I often have a competing preference. I want
          > to offer ideas or comments or questions while they are timely.
          > Sometimes I lean toward confirming my assumptions. Other times I lean
          > toward timeliness, and that's when I use the "second best" option of
          > making my assumptions explicit, and my comments contingent on my
          > assumption being true.

          Yeah, I know, we all do.

          >
          > At least, that's what I do when I'm aware of making assumptions. When
          > I'm not aware of that, I don't do either of these things.

          I wonder what it is that lets us *realize* we are making assumptions? I
          know many times I don't realize I'm translating something someone said into
          what they would have said if they were the person I think they are... and
          get completely off the track. So I wonder how we can develop the ability to
          recognize when we are assuming and putting a projected or imagined attitude
          or intention on the speaker/writer???

          >
          > I'm not sure how I decide, when I'm aware of making assumptions,
          > whether to lean toward confirmation or timeliness. I wonder what
          > would happen if I were to weigh confirmation more highly.

          I suspect that you'll be more aware of it... I know I will be.

          Kay
        • Anthony Williams
          ... So true. It is very easy to write an angry sentence or paragraph, even when just stating facts. Anthony -- Anthony Williams Software Developer
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 22, 2005
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            Sean Gilbertson <sean_gilbertson@...> writes:

            > Even if you try to avoid angry words, they can seep out without your
            > noticing.

            So true. It is very easy to write an angry sentence or paragraph, even when
            just stating facts.

            Anthony
            --
            Anthony Williams
            Software Developer
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