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Don't be precious: accepting edits and feedback

With any writing, editing is an important part of the process - but also one of the most difficult parts. For UX design, there's a similar process. Getting stakeholders involved and ready to sign off on work involves a similar back-and-forth of feedback and changes. So when it comes to UX writing, it can be a challenging part of the job.

So, what techniques are there that can help us understand and accept feedback?

Take a moment

When you first get feedback, it's really easy to respond straight away with a knee-jerk reaction. Try not to.

Stop. Breathe. Think.

Once you've received the feedback, take a moment to take it in. Reflect on it. There's no rush. It feels weird at first, especially if you're in the room with the person giving feedback. But there's no harm in thinking things over. If you need to, tell the person giving the feedback you need time to take it away and reflect on it. They won't mind.

Remember why feedback is important

More often than not, you've asked for the feedback. So remember why you asked for it.

Writing, like any work, is never right first time. You can draft and redraft your work as often as you like. But it's not until someone looks at it with fresh eyes (they've never seen it before) that mistakes and inaccuracies become clear.

Ernest Hemingway is famously quoted as saying,

Write drunk. Edit sober.

While I don't recommend you get drunk, the idea stands true. Write freely, without restrictions. It's the best way to pull your thoughts and ideas out of your head. It helps you make sense of the often jumbled thought-processes. Then come back to it with your own fresh eyes and edit it. Part of that is also getting other people's thoughts - the best edits are those done collaboratively.

Respond and analyse

Part of getting feedback is also picking it apart to fully understand what the feedback means. So feel free to question the feedback. Ask for more clarity, present alternative scenarios, and delve deep.

The person giving the feedback will appreciate it and it'll make the changes even better.

Learn to push back

It's worth remembering, just because someone has provided feedback, it doesn't mean you have to do them. Collaborative working means working together. Not someone dictating changes to someone else. So if you have reason to disagree with a suggested change, let them know and explain why.

Any good UX writer relies on research and data. If you have evidence that the words you've written are understandable and human, then tell them. It doesn't have to be confrontational. The more people know the research, the better everyone's work will be.

One last thing…

Don't forget to be grateful. Remember that whoever gave you feedback took time out of their day to do so. No one comes to work to be mean and do bad work, so know they're trying to help you be better.

Accepting feedback is hard. It's a skill we have to develop over time. It's OK to admit that you're still learning - I still am. If you believe you have all the answers from the beginning, you'll struggle to get very far. It's through collaborative working and honest, open discussions that we can write our best copy. And this means our products will work better for our users too.

18 October 2019

This article was originally published on UX Collective on 10 October 2019.