Feedback can often feel like someone is telling you that you aren't good enough, that your work or writing isn't valuable, and that perhaps you as a human aren't sufficient. That feeling is a lie! That is not what feedback is about.
Feedback, when given in the spirit of constructive helpfulness, is about improvement. Your teachers, fellow students, and eventual coworkers and bosses, all want you to be your best self and produce your best work. They (hopefully) want to build you up, not tear you down. So let's talk about how to use feedback. To start with, the writing center at UNC has this helpful guide to getting, understanding, and effectively using feedback on your writing.
So knowing that feedback isn't about being mean, and it IS about helping you reach full potential, what are some ways to make feedback work for you?
- Realize that feedback (especially from your professor) is intended to be constructive and is being given in the spirit of helping you. It is NOT intended to be mean-spirited or hurtful. If you feel hurt, it's okay to set it aside for a time and come back to it later after you've had a little distance.
- If you do not understand the feedback, ask questions. This is best done in person, but if you cannot make it to your professors office try asking if they're willing to set up a skype meeting or phone call.
- Use those peer mentors! If the feedback you receive feels overwhelming, ask a friend to read your work, read the comments, and help you parse through what you really need to do.
- Read the feedback even if you get a good grade. If you got a 100 on an assignment, you may not get much feedback. However, if you got an A-, you might be happy with that grade and be tempted not to bother with reading the comments. Don't do this. Looking at feedback even when you got a grade can help you see patterns of error so that you can adjust in the future.
- Realize that you don't HAVE to make all of the suggested changes. Sometimes you'll get feedback that you disagree with, and that's okay too.