How do I give and receive feedback as a Software Developer?

If you've ever worked with me, you’ve likely heard me say in 1:1s, "Please, give me all your feedback upfront, no hard feelings. The only way I can improve is by getting your honest feedback, I don't take it personally". I genuinely mean it, and my peers and manager know it.

However, feedback can be hard as f**k. It is particularly hard to build a safe communication space, where both feel okay being upfront and honest about our feelings. I think being okay to talk about things we don't feel confident about requires developing our emotional brain and being okay talking about uncomfortable things.

Build a safe communication space, where both feel okay being upfront and honest about our feelings

Here are some quick tips that helps me to give and receive feedback:

Building Trust and an Open Channel

Trust takes months or even years to develop. Let’s say that you are not comfortable sharing your fears and constructive thoughts with your manager or peers (or the other way around). In that case, something may not be working fine in your work relationship.

I do a couple of things to build trust over time:

  • Lead by example, share feedback with my peers with respect and empathy.
  • Ask my peers to receive continuous feedback and understand what’s the most effective way to share feedback to them.
  • Be explicit by sharing how vital feedback is for me and my career.

Reminder: Feedback Is An Opinion

Documents Are The Best Way to Collaborate Remotely and Push Big Projects.

I always assume people say things with good intentions, but sometimes I may not agree with others’ views. When I receive feedback, my first answer is "Thanks!", and then I'll keep the conversation focus to get an example or dive deep into the input.

A terrible response is to be mad at other people's feedback and reply, "You're wrong. I am not like that". You may have a point, but by saying that you're discouraging others from giving you more feedback and, to some extent, it will hurt their trust in you.

I always remind myself that other's feedback is an opinion, and it's my responsability to choose those opinions that will make me better.

It's all about business

I don't treat feedback personally because we're doing business. I aim for the success of the team and accomplish the company goals. I always make the exercise of understanding that feedback in a work context is not a personal judgment or criticism.

Hope you find these tips useful! Let me know how you deal with feedback and what’s your favorite tip. 🙌

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I'm Jorge Ferreiro and I've launched more than four side products and worked in tech companies like Amazon and Eventbrite.
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