Cheerleading or Constructive Criticism?

“Permission to speak freely?”

His text said.

“Always,” I thumb typed back.

“I wasn’t sure if you were wanting some cheerleading about the project or some constructive criticism, so I wanted to clarify first.”

“Both 😊”

I’d always prefer option one, but I needed option two.

He went on to give some helpful, direct, yet still kind feedback on a project I shared with him.

I really appreciated his honesty.

And he mixed a good dose of option one in with his option two feedback.

The exchange provided a chance to reflect.

On how often the sender of said (ideas, projects, emails, invitations) gets their ego bruised because they didn’t clarify intentions in the ask.

Which is precisely what I had done.

I kinda just wanted him to tell me how awesome this thing was, and if he had come back with some direct feedback without me expecting it, well, I would have had to fight the defensive, victim flames that would flare.

But he clarified first. And gave me the chance to tell him it was ok to be honest.

How simple, and expectation-setting effective, in the next situation like that, if I say one of these two things:

“Hey, here’s a project that’s not open for any feedback, I just wanted to share the finished thing with you, and I’d love to hear your support of what I’ve been working on…”


“Hey, I’m really proud of this project, but it’s not at the finish line. I really value your perspective and insights. Would you please share your honest feedback with me on where we’re at with it? We may not incorporate everything, but I’d love to hear your input before it goes any further.”

Put more simply:

“I need some cheerleading here.”


“Please give me some constructive criticism.”

Sender, clarify your expectations.

Otherwise, both of you may have lots of unspokens getting in the way of the truth.

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