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Words, words 
8th-Feb-2012 04:05 pm
language, voyage
I'm trying an interesting experiment at work. I have stopped using the word "review". No more asking people, "Can you review this document for me?" Instead I say, "Can I have your feedback on this?" or "Would you read this and tell me what you think?"

It's early days yet, but it feels like I am getting more responses. It really feels like I am getting quicker responses. I am also getting a certain percentage of off-the-cuff, less-well-thought-out responses, but at least those give me a place to begin. I'd much rather have those than a well-reasoned critique that comes in past my deadline.

My hypothesis, which prompted me to do this experiment, is that a "review" is something formal, a chore, something one must set aside time for, something one can procrastinate on. "Feedback" suggests something more immediate and more personal.

The flip side of this is that a "review" is more easily conceived of as a job responsibility, whereas "feedback" has more of the connotation of doing someone a favor. But apparently many people would rather do a favor for a colleague they respect than simply carry out a job responsibility that they find tedious and sometimes anxiety-producing.

I don't think I'll be able to banish the word "review" permanently from my vocabulary. We have formal document reviews that need to happen at certain stages, and I don't think that renaming them "Feedback Cycles" or the like is going to fool anyone. Still, it's very interesting that the *way* you ask for something can be as important as *what* you're asking for in determining the kind of response you get.
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