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How to Productively Deal With Editorial Feedback

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

5 strategies to stay objective and productive rather than getting defensive and shutting down

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Feedback can be hard to hear

Since joining Medium, I am writing a lot more. Before submitting any writing for publication, I like to have at least one other set of eyes on a draft for perspective and feedback.

My editor is usually my husband. I trust his input and he tends to be straightforward and objective. However, I am human; sometimes, feedback triggers me to feel defensive and shut down. The danger when this happens is that I either:

  • lose enthusiasm for a piece of work or,

  • miss the opportunity to make the writing better


Here are 5 things I do when I feel triggered by feedback to stay objective and productive instead of getting defensive and shutting down:

  1. Pick your moments. Knowing when to solicit feedback can be just as important as the feedback itself. If I am feeling tired, or short-tempered because of other things going on, I am much more likely to be triggered by feedback. Similarly, if my chosen editor is busy or working to a deadline, they might not be in the frame of mind to give objective feedback. After finding the right time, it is then important to …

  2. Know your triggers. When feedback triggers me, I know because my mind immediately starts running defensive arguments. These get louder in my mind in an attempt to block out what I am hearing. Identifying this pattern is helpful because it is something I can recognize when it happens and …

  3. Pause and breathe. If feedback triggers me, it does not mean it is not helpful or relevant. It also does not mean that I don’t want to hear it. To stay objective and listen to what might end up making my work a lot better, I need to pause my argumentative thoughts and breathe. This helps me to …

  4. Keep it objective. Take the feedback through an objective lens and consider how it can make the work better. Sometimes this requires stepping away after hearing feedback and coming back to it after distilling it down into usable, objective points. And finally …

  5. Give credit where credit is due (and apologize if necessary). Pretty much every time I am given objective feedback and use it, my writing improves. Many times it improves drastically. Giving credit where it is due, in terms of acknowledgement of improvement, as well as a simple “thank you,” and apologizing for defensiveness if necessary, is a great way to validate the reviewer and keep helpful feedback coming in the future!


How do you react to feedback? Do you have additional strategies to keep it objective and useful when feeling triggered?


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