Saleen Says: how to give constructive criticism.

It was a weekday morning and I needed to get up for work. I checked my phone like I always do.

“New message from Donna M.,” I read.

That’s weird. I don’t get many messages on Yelp.

“Way too rambling of a review. I think you need a hobby,” the writer griped.

Thanks, Donna! What a wonderful way to start the day.

She’s not the first person who has given me unsolicited advice about my reviews. One of my professors did as well. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but I believe she mentioned that they were long. I took her (again, unsolicited) advice and changed the format of my reviews.

At least her feedback was constructive, unlike Donna’s.

I like to write a lot. It’s no secret. I like detail. I like letting people know about issues they may run into, things that are confusing, and the like. The problem is I needed to learn how to get right to it. Is the cucumber salad crappy or is it exactly what my taste buds have been begging for?

That’s when I started adding short lists to the beginning of my reviews that highlight the main points, like wait times, whether the servers are nice, suggestions I have for the restaurant, and most importantly, how good – or craptastic – is the food?

I still added details later on about my dining experience, including what I ordered, whether or not I’d return, whether my order came out right and which dishes I’d skip the next time around. I gave the readers what they came for first though.

I think that’s just a good practice in general – in critical writing, journalism, and blogs.

As far as Donna goes, I didn’t appreciate her comments, mostly because of her delivery and because she felt the need to throw the “you need a hobby” comment in there. Also, she literally went out of her way to click on my page and message me that. I’d be more appreciative had she actually left it at “Way too long of a rambling review.”

If you’re going to give unsolicited advice, or any advice really, make it constructive and leave the petty jabs out of it.

You’re probably wondering how I responded to Donna M.

Feel free to read our conversation below, but I pretty much said “Girl bye.”

She didn’t respond. A few weeks later, I realized I still had the message in my inbox. I randomly blocked her because, well, I can.

She can have a stadium of seats, and as my late grandfather used to say, I think I did a pretty good job at telling her that in a “nice nasty” way.


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