Nov 29

Feedback and Conflict

by Hannah Holt »


I like arguing. Well, I like white-glove arguing. Hashing over manuscripts is something I enjoy.

However, I am also a coward. Other forms of conflict terrify me.

Like today…

My husband and I returned from a movie at the same time our babysitter Susan* pulled into our driveway. Susan had driven our boys (ages 2 and 4) to the park. The boys were rolling around and laughing UNBUCKLED in the backseat.

Inside I screamed.

But what do I say to her? Susan is not an inexperienced young babysitter. She is a family friend with children of her own. She knows better. Or should.

My conversation with Susan could have gone better. I wished I could have remembered my manuscript critique rules in this moment of tension. The manuscript critique rules are:

1) Start with positive feedback
2) Present the problem(s)
3) End on a positive note

My side of the conversation should have gone like this…

1) “Susan, I really appreciate you watching our kids this afternoon.”
2) “You should know, however, that we don’t allow exceptions to the car seat rule.”
3) “I know that you care about our boys. Our house rules are meant to keep them safe.”

It seems so easy in hindsight. When at the time, all I could think was, “Ah! Aah! AAAAaaah!”

Do you find it easy to give feedback to others? When is it easy? When is it difficult?

*Name has been changed.

  1. Evelyn

    I got much better at giving feedback through doing it over an over again professionally. But part of that ease come from the fact that the teachers I worked with were *expecting* feedback. It’s much more difficult for me to get into the conversation and remain positive and constructive if the feedback is not expected (as in your case here: OMG!!!). It’s also hard when I think I know for certain what the best way to do something is–it’s easy to get condescending.

    Point being: I’m definitely still working on it, too!

  2. Hannah

    I know what you mean. I didn’t want to come off as condescending, but I also couldn’t let the behavior slide. Here’s to hoping my rough edges will be smoother next time. :)