Anything that is too open-ended is generally bad feedback.

I have dealt with enough freelance clients in my life who have asked me the question, “Can you make it more…?”. My guy, do you think I have a list of gerunds that I go through while doing the technical work? I have heard things like “convincing”, “appealing”, “efficient”, and whatever. If I were a fast food worker and someone asks me, “Does this burger look okay to you?” What should my response be? If it is bad looking burger tell me it looks bad because of this and that, if it tastes bad tell me it tastes bad because of this and that.

These open-ended feedbacks are usually shit because the reaction is always predictable. My follow-up question is always, “What do you mean by…?” Then they will give the actual issues they have problem with. Now, instead of one message of feedback, we now have three messages.

But if you are working with an incompetent manager/client, they will reply with, “never mind,” because now they are hinting at you to be their therapist and go on a spiritual journey together into the depths of abstract project descriptions. You cannot just reply, “cool.” You have to frickin’ write, “Oh no. I am genuinely interested :) How can I help?”

In asynchronous communication like emails, this takes up time and mental capacity. In synchronous communication, this takes up patience.

Avoid open-ended questions at all costs when managing someone. Either be specific or ask them to go through their process. Not every, if not no, task is a process of self-discovery or a spiritual and mental idea of “why this is not more this or that.” As a manager, always assume the engineer has done their homework.