Objective vs. Subjective: Giving Helpful Feedback

objective vs. subjective feedback

If you’ve ever given feedback on a project or a piece of art, you may have been told your response was objective or subjective. But, what exactly does this mean? Understanding objective vs. subjective language is important when giving constructive criticism. In today’s blog, we’ll learn the difference between these two terms as well as how to utilise them correctly when giving feedback. 

What is objective feedback?

Being objective is delivering information or analysis that is based in fact, is measurable, and is observable. This is when statistics and tangible data are used to form your response. When giving feedback, this can mean using the work of the the author to construct helpful advice for improving or praising the project. 

What is subjective? 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, being subjective means delivering information in a form that is based on personal opinion, interpretation, point of view, emotions and judgement. In feedback, this is when we let our own preferences guide our response to the work, sometimes at the cost of ignoring the author’s own intentions and experiences. 

Objective vs. Subjective: Giving Helpful Feedback

Here are some tips for providing constructive criticism:

  1. Always be honest. You should say when you think the content is good, but you shouldn’t be afraid to highlight any areas that you think might need work. Be sure to be genuine when giving praise — this is where being subjective can come in handy. 
  2. Keep your personal tastes to yourself. You can articulate why a certain element of the work might not work for you, but we have to try to remain objective. 
  3. Be specific… to a certain point. Some people prefer more general responses and questions to their work, however if you are critiquing a certain aspect that is confusing broad feedback isn’t going to help in resolving the issue.
  4. Diagnose problems, but only give prescriptive solution if asked. You should see if our thoughts and responses resonate with the author. They may ask for suggestions, but only offer them if they ask. Give the authors the opportunity to find the answer organically. 
  5. Respect the vision of the author. Remember that a project will live or die based on the author’s investment and creative energy. You need to respect their instincts and understand that they may take none of your notes on board. 
  6. Try to avoid explaining someone else’s work to them. You should be careful not to come across as patronising or belittling. Everyone has a different creative process and background and we should be respectful of how other’s perceive and create art. 
  7. Don’t compare people to themselves. You should allow others to grow and develop their creative voices.

Forming Our Feedback

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when formulating your thoughts into feedback:

Learning to give constructive critique is an ongoing journey but as along as we remember to separative objective vs. subjective, we can be our most helpful.

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia B. is a Marketing Coordinator and Music Club Coach for Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.