Feedback Is A Gift

I was involved in helping a not for profit organization select a web developer for their new website. We originally had 7 prospects who were interested in submitting their Request for Proposal and whittled it down to only two providers. It was a difficult decision but we decided on a local provider.

Therefore, how do you communicate to the one finalist who was not selected? (I will call them Company Q.) Do you send them an email or formal letter? On the other hand, do we call Company Q? If we call, what do we say? I recommended to our Executive Director to send Company Q a formal letter thanking them for their efforts and professionalism; we decided to go in another direction. We thought this was the end of the conversation, we heard through another channel that Company Q was disappointed that we didn’t speak with them directly on some of the details of our final decision. You see, Company Q knew someone on the board at our organization and leveraged this contact in order to gain detailed information on why they were not chosen.

Look, I didn’t have an issue calling Company Q and generally explaining our reasoning. I told them they were experienced, very capable, professional and thorough. The organization’s decision had nothing to do with them, it was just not in the cards. In other words, it had little to do with them and much more to do with a local company with whom we’ve done business in the past.

If you pay attention, receiving feedback can be valuable with what’s said but also with what’s not said. It can help interested companies in growing, learning and maintaining a positive image and brand. Not sure if Company Q will benefit from this feedback, although I think it’s important to gather information where and when they can. Gathering feedback reminds me of brainstorming. There’s a time and place where you gather as much information, ideas and feedback as possible. Once you’re done with that step, it becomes time to evaluate and critique that feedback.

Regardless of the type, should all feedback be considered by companies and organizations?


Sometimes, people ask for your feedback but they don’t really want an honest assessment of the situation. At times, people want to know your honest feedback. Other times, people want most of your honest feedback but they want you to sugar coat the feedback so it sounds better. So they want your honest feedback but don’t be too honest. Honesty in such a way as to not hurt anyone’s feelings. So partial feedback?

If you ask me for feedback, I will provide it in an honest format in a constructive manner. In other words, feedback to me is synonymous with honesty yet done in such a way as to increase the acceptance possibility. If I ask for feedback, I want an honest assessment so when it’s time to reciprocate, I do likewise. Otherwise, why ask?


Same philosophy could apply in a job interview after an interviewee has just finished. Why not ask your interviewer how the interview went? No guarantee you’ll get a response but try it. Many employers do not want to expose them to any liability issues so they may be tight lipped but you never know. Maybe you’ll be more inclined to ask if you sense the meeting didn’t go well and you will not get another interview — look for any cues for feedback or insight on their impression of you.

Sometimes, their reaction to you asking for feedback might be valuable information. If they don’t appear interested or don’t want to put forth any effort, that might indicate they don’t have serious interest in you. You can always try to solicit feedback in a roundabout way to see the response. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it’s much more obvious.

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