Let’s get real for a minute here: I hate when you tell me there’s a flaw in something I wrote.
But not for the reasons you think.
As a writer, there are few things better (and worse) than receiving feedback and critique of your work. It helps you grow, it makes you better… it fills you with blind rage.
Recently, I’ve been in a situation where the team I work with has grown tremendously. Once a shadow in the corner, the content my team produces now has a spotlight shining brightly on it. And so I’ve realized… the more eyes on the content, the more opinions and feedback you shall receive about your words.
…. “Hey, there’s a typo in today’s blog.”
“One of the backlinks is broken in the PDF you released.”
“I noticed that the tenses are off in a tweet on our feed.”
“I don’t like the position that title takes.”
Or, the worst one of late “I took today’s blog down.” With no further explanation.
… The list goes on. And the theme is prominent: there’s no clear feedback.
Receiving critique of your work takes some tough skin, there’s no doubt about that. But the reality is, no matter how thick your skin, if the feedback is poorly delivered, it will be poorly received.
But if I sat here and ranted about why I don’t think being told “there’s a typo” isn’t helpful feedback, then I’m part of the problem, too. So instead, here are 3 ways to deliver honest feedback to a writer, without crushing her soul.
1. The compliment sandwich is real, ladies.
When someone criticizes you, your first instinct is to shut down. But when someone is offering you feedback, you want to listen. When delivering feedback, don’t lead with the punchline. You risk shutting a person down before you can even get out what you want to say.
Don’t say: “This piece is ridden with typos and grammatical errors.”
But do say: “I truly enjoyed your latest piece. But let’s go over some of the grammatical errors in it so that it’s presented in the best way possible.”
2. Public praise, private criticism.
This one is pretty simple: if you have something not so nice to say, take it offline. It’s all too easy in our connected world to deliver criticism in public forums - a comment on Facebook, a note on the article itself, a Slack message to you in a public channel. The important thing to remember is that if you want to give feedback to a writer, that’s who you should give it to, the writer.
3. Honesty is NOT always the best policy.
This is ironic, I know, since I am talking about “honest feedback”. But there is a distinct difference in honesty and candor. The latter is a more positively received form of feedback, especially when it comes to writing. Candor, by definition, is being frank. In Radical Candor (a really great book), it is described as a style of leadership in which you care and also challenge. Your objective should never be to destroy me. I wrote these words, I love these words. But maybe they need some work, and I want you to tell me, candidly.
Don’t say: “This has already been done a thousand times. Why would anyone care to read this story?”
But do say: “The direction you are taking has been done before, but I am intrigued. What are you trying to convey, how is it different than what others have already said?”
At the end of the day, when given the right way, feedback should excite a writer. It should make her want to be better and improve upon the piece. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. And when you consciously think about it, you’re a better editor to us all.
The Lady Project is a well-established national movement of connecting and showcasing women - and one that is ready to go international!
It’s with great excitement that we announce our newest endeavor: Lady Project Travels. A collaboration with G Adventures, the world’s largest small-group tour operator, this female-only small group program will showcase various countries, inspire female travelers, and connect us with each other and the world.
We are excited to announce our first exclusive trip will be to Morocco in November 2017! Perfect for women looking for a fast-paced trip, this short but sweet adventure offers up a great combination of Morocco’s must-see highlights and a little free time to explore on your own. Together we can discover the history and rugged natural beauty of mysterious Morocco.
If you’ve ever thought about exploring one of the most unique places in the world, here’s why traveling with the Lady Project may be the best way to do it.
FEMALE GROUP TRAVEL IS TRANSFORMATIVE
The Lady Project has created a welcoming environment of compatible women. From New Member Meet-Ups to the annual Summit, networking and collaborating while engaging in local communities has encouraged women to do remarkable things. Capturing the energy and familiarity of chapter events and applying it to travel could encourage women who may have never traveled before to feel confident enough to get a passport photo taken. Or it could encourage women with well-worn and well-stamped passports to see the world from another angle.
Lady Project Travels is a new way to build even more confidence in women. Learning about other cultures, seeing how women live (and are treated) in other countries, and meeting women from around the country can only serve to create an indelible ripple effect of positive transformation.
SAFETY IN NUMBERS
As a proud feminist who thinks nothing can stop her from conquering the world, I hate to admit that international solo female travel can be a risk. Unknown streets, foreign languages, and strangers with cultural differences can be daunting, even prohibitive when choosing a destination.
That’s one of the many reasons G Adventures provides a local tour guide (or as they call them, a CEO, a “Chief Experience Officer”) throughout the entire tour. They know the lay of the land, the language, and can make suggestions for safe and unique places to explore during free time – like the neighborhood shop that has the best naan, or local vendor that sells the best quality Moroccan lanterns.
This trip is perfect for beginners who want to try something completely new with the comfort of others, and for experienced travelers who prefer to leave all the planning and organizing to us.
SMALL GROUP TRAVEL IS IMMERSIVE
G Adventures has defined and re-defined small group travel for 25 years. Traveling with the Lady Project and G Adventures is the very best way to get up-close and personal with your planet in a way you’d never manage on your own. During your time in Morocco, you’ll be encouraged to step off the beaten path, embrace the unexpected and immerse yourself in the extraordinary.
The world opens up a little more for a small group than it does for a solo traveler or a big-bus tour. Small groups offer more security, access, camaraderie, and affinity with your destination than traveling any other way.
The Lady Project trip to Morocco will have a maximum of 12 passengers, so you’ll get the opportunity to do things like ride a camel out to a Berber Desert Camp in the Sahara and sleep under the stars. Something you didn’t even realize you wanted on your bucket list until you’re experiencing it.
TRAVEL, DONE RIGHT, CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
The main belief of our new partner is that by directing dollars to the correct place, the world can benefit from travel. By focusing on sustainable tourism and engagement with the communities they visit, G Adventures perfectly aligns with Lady Project’s mission. G Adventures even has a non-profit organization Planeterra that has built projects around the world that focus on improving the lives of women.
As a traveler on a G Adventures tour, you will visit some of these projects and see how tourism can be a source for good. During our time in Morocco, we will eat a traditional home-cooked Moroccan meal and learn a bit of Arabic while meeting the local women. In addition to a unique experience, the proceeds from this lunch program help support vocational training for rural women, allowing them to support their families and children.
As women, we have the power to change the world. Now let’s go see it together.
To learn all about the new Lady Project Travels, visit www.ladyproject.org/lptravel
Bethany Hodge grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts which instilled a love and appreciation of the benefits of sustainable tourism. After receiving her graduate degree in Intercultural Communication and living in Alicante, Spain, Bethany has worked in product, sales, and marketing within the travel industry for the last nine years. Her vocation has brought her to more than 30 countries, including Israel, Jordan, Colombia and Antarctica. She has a dedication to negotiating her way to equality; a love for puns, her cats, and passport stamps; and is co-captain of The Rolling Stones, a competitive Downtown Providence bocce team.
Tell us how alexys ryan started.
After decades of creating trend-setting designs for some of the nation’s top retailers, LDC, Inc., the company behind alexys ryan, decided to move in a new direction with the launch of its first collection. This is an exciting step for our team. We approached the challenge like any other - we did our research, looked at where we could make our mark, and landed on our concept for alexys ryan.
Why did you want each piece of jewelry to be inscribed with an inspiration saying?
These classic pieces carry simple messages, projecting confidence, and strength. We love creating designs and messages to help women tell their stories through their jewelry.
What is in the future for alexys ryan?
More designs. More boutiques. More fun.
If you could describe yourself in five words, what would they be?
We will let alexys ryan do the talking. Here are some of our favorite messages to describe our lives:
Balance – wear all the hats
Endurance – stronger than you think
Practice – trial and error
Risk – bend th
rules Love – feel the fire
Tell us about your co-conspirators. Who are the ladies you collaborate with on a regular basis?
Each other! As colleagues and sisters-in-law, we are bouncing ideas off each other all day - asking for advice about what works for our jewelry designs to ideas to cook for dinner.
How can young women get involved with an organization like The Lady Project?
It’s as easy as checking out their website for programs and following all their great work on social media.
Talk about the importance of finding your tribe.
alexys ryan is all about finding your tribe. For our first collection, we wanted to create stunning, affordable necklaces and bracelets to complement the wardrobe of the woman who balances everything. Too often jewelry takes a back seat to the demands of the day. These pieces reflect our lives as moms, wives, sisters and friends. The collection reminds us it can still be fun and easy to feel great about how we look, and that we are all facing the same challenges and successes at home and work. Our tribe is big and keeps us moving forward.
Who inspires you these days? (Can be contemporary or a historical figure.)
Our moms. Their love, support, and encouragement keep us going. And as we balance our own careers and families, we are even more grateful for all they did, and still do, for us.
What changes to your business are you hoping to make in the next year?
Adding more designs. Adding more boutique locations.
When things get rough, how do you keep yourself going?
Glancing at our wrists to let alexys ryan inspire us - - her messages remind us to keep going, persevere.
Do you label yourself a feminist? Please explain.
alexys ryan = girl power. And perseverance. And endurance. And risk.
What's your favorite restaurant in the city where you live?
Whether it is staying at home in Cumberland to make a pizza from scratch with cheese and vegetables or heading to Picasso’s Pub in Warwick for a pie or two, it is great to spend time with our husbands and kids after a long day. And yes, there is always a cold beer in the mix for the parents.
What do you like about being part of the Lady Project?
The Lady Project is an excellent space – online and in person – for women, of all backgrounds, to connect and learn. It’s important work, keep it up!
Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?
You have an idea for a project, but don’t feel you’re allowed to make suggestions.
You need help, but don’t feel you can ask your employee because you’re the boss.
You don’t like the way you’re spoken to by your boss but can’t say anything.
Your team doesn’t open up to you because they feel you’re unrelatable.
These are real-life problems you face on a weekly basis at work. But the conversation around these issues usually sounds like this:
“Advocate for yourself!”
“Don’t look weak”
“Know your stuff”
Although these mantras can certainly be helpful in the right setting, with the right people, and the right mindset, we’re not always that fortunate.
The problem with these approaches are that they lack 2 essential qualities:
Heart and humanity.
Why aren’t we allowed to address problems in the workplace with heart? Why is it not acceptable to not know something? Why can’t we ask for what we really need?
Our hearts are a place for love and acceptance. We all need love and acceptance. Yet, somehow, when we go to work, we’re supposed to shut that down. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that in our bodies and minds.
But in our aggro, perfectionist work settings, it doesn’t feel safe to seek these things out.
So where’s the disconnect?
Where do we stop acting human?
On our commute. We are literally deciding to leave our human needs at the door before we get to work. And as bosses, we are deciding to forgot our employees are people and that they have human needs.
Want to be wildly successful? Stop doing this.
People perform at their best when a few things are present:
- when they feel they have impact
- when they feel they have decision-making power
- when they feel heard and respected
You can bring these things into your workplace by using your heart and humanity.
- If you’re a key decision-maker at your job, ask for feedback and suggestions from your team. They may just surprise you with their ideas!
- If you’re new to your job, ask your boss what you can do to have a greater impact on the company’s mission.
Make it a point to align your heart and humanity with your work. You could create a positive disruption in your workplace!
On April 7, 1997, my sito passed. (Alzheimer’s. A monster. A thief.) At the time, I was eight, and, luckily for me, I got to spend a lot of time by her side. In my moments of greatest clarity, I can recall vivid snapshots of our time together: watching Flipper and The Lawrence Welk Show. Playing together on the player piano she kept in her living room. Singing love songs to each other, and laughing as she tied a scarf over my hair. The smells of spices in the kitchen as we sat together with my mother and aunt cooking maneesh, kafta and potatoes, meat and spinach pies. The texture of the bulgur wheat between our fingers as we mixed tabbouleh. The soothing sound of her voice whispering into my hair every time we said goodbye. Ana bahebak. I love you.
It’s been 20 years since I’ve heard Sito’s voice—but the lessons she taught me haven’t left my mind for a second. In so many ways, she’s been a guiding force in my life. Today, I’d love to share with you three of the most important lessons she imparted in our time together.
1. No obstacle is insurmountable.
The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, Sito grew up with the great responsibility of serving as a translator while growing and learning herself. Hers was a difficult life, and it made her one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. Mother of nine, trained as a Red Cross nurse during World War II, she worked long hours to support her family. Any moments of joy or pleasure she felt were hard earned. Maybe that’s what made her laugh so special. It wasn’t something she’d ever use falsely or gratuitously.
Sito worked hard. After hours spent working at the Golf Ball Division of Acushnet Co., she was a homemaker. She cooked and cleaned for the family, taking time to ensure everyone had enough to eat. To this day, my mother will even share stories of how Sito would go out of her way to make sure each of her children felt special—baking cakes on their birthdays, giving candy and small treats during holidays, and writing notes to ensure they felt loved. Her exhaustion after a long day never stopped her from taking care of the people who mattered most to her.
When I come home after a long day at work, I often picture Sito. Her memory reminds me that no matter how tired or stressed I am, no matter how big the job I am doing might feel, it’s in my blood to face it, head on—with enough love left to share with my husband as we cook dinner together.
2. Music is a gift you can share forever.
I will never forget the sound of Sito’s voice singing Doris Day to me as we hugged:
“I love you
A bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck . . .”
She loved music, and she loved when we would sing together. That shared love of music has stayed with me: today, my closest friends and I have made music a pastime, singing and playing together on the weekends as a celebration of life. Few gifts in this world have the staying power of music, or the warmth that is shared when you create a song together. Sito taught me this. I like to think it’s something she’s still teaching me, even now.
3. Let your last words be “I love you.”
I can’t imagine babysitting a young child while coping with the early stages of Alzheimer’s could be easy. But for the life of me, I can’t recall a single moment where Sito treated me like a burden. With her, it was always love. My brother and I had no doubts that Sito loved us unconditionally—she made sure of that. No matter what was going on in a given day, she made sure to stop and tell us she loved us. To her, everything was insha'Allah—if God wills. In other words, you never know when you’ll be seeing someone for the last time. So leave them with love.
In the time since Sito has passed, I’ve adopted her philosophy. Whenever I see or speak with someone I love, I make sure to let them know I care. It’s a lesson that has never steered me wrong.
Let me start by first saying I am always so impressed at how resilient and amazing each and every one of my clients are! I am a mental health therapist and every day I am filled with stories from all walks of lives and different perspectives. Some of them are inspiring, some of them are horrifying, and some of them- if I’m being honest are a little bit boring. Regardless of the type of story I’m told, I know that each story I am told takes courage to share.
Sharing is really, really scary!
If we’re being real here, and I hope we all are (it *is* honesty month at the Lady Project Blog after all), sharing and being vulnerable is really, really scary! Don’t believe me? Just check out any of Brene Brown’s books, talks or research. When we’re honest, we leave ourselves wide open to be judged, criticized and possibly even rejected.
In therapy, we often tell ourselves and our clients the therapy room is a “judgment-free zone.” Though the reality is that while I and other therapists try our best to keep that commitment true, we are all human beings with our own thoughts, feelings and opinions. While I can’t promise I will never have a human reaction or judgment about something you’ve shared, I can promise I will do my best to have a real, genuine conversation about these interactions. Often with a little discussion and clarifying our experience, we can learn that being honest doesn’t have to be so scary. In fact, it can be healthy to experience these scary feelings to realize they don’t define who we are or our worth as person.
I don’t expect you to tell me everything
In the first session with a therapist, you will be asked a lot or really personal questions about all areas of your life. Some of these questions may seem totally unrelated to your reason for starting therapy, and honestly that may be true. As a therapist, it’s my job to help my clients notice any patterns or factors that seem irrelevant but could actually be contributing to your presenting problem.
The truth is, I don’t expect my clients to be totally 100% honest with me right away. While I know my clients come to me because they trust and value my expertise, there is always a growing period in the beginning of any new relationship where trust needs to develop. In therapy, we call this building a therapeutic alliance, or therapeutic rapport, with each other. My clients and I need to be able to trust each other in order to feel comfortable being honest, and that takes time. This period of time is often referred to as the Beginning Phase of Treatment.
The process is where it’s at
Beyond that first phase of treatment, most individual therapy sessions average 45-50minutes per week. This leaves a lot of time outside the therapy room to experience life. It would be impossible to discuss everything that happens outside of the therapy room. Nor would it be beneficial to my client’s progress. The truth is that I don’t necessarily need to know everything. In therapy, the circumstances aren’t always the most important piece to the story. As a therapist, I am interested in helping my clients identify their process and how this impacts their experience of a situation or emotion that has been distressing to them. As with anything, there are of course exceptions to this rule. However, if we can build awareness, or insight, to these patterns, that is where real change and growth can occur.
The most important person to be honest with is yourself
While I would love it if all of my clients were honest with me in all of our sessions, I know that it’s more important they are real with themselves. The best I can do is provide the space, skills, and reflection to foster this type of thinking. The real work comes from my client’s being honest with themselves. The truth is, we are always with ourselves. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how can we expect others to be honest with us? It can feel horribly uncomfortable when we start getting real with ourselves, which is why it’s also important to be gentle, kind, and loving to ourselves also. When we value ourselves, we make it easier to trust ourselves. The truth is, we all know the real reasons we feel the way we do. We may even know what to do to change. We may just need a little help learning how to implement the best changes for our lives so we can live full, meaningful, and healthy lives!