An measure of interpersonal communication satisfaction I use in class asks people to rate how comfortable they are in various communication situations. One such situation is giving feedback to a friend who has asked you to read his or her writing. Do you see where this is going?
So, the in class discussion on this issue is always interesting because it can be very hard to be honest and constructive with friends. Inevitably, we raise American Idol comparisons. How could anyone tell that person they could sing? I think there are a few things at work.
First, we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, so we try to focus on that which is positive. Nothing wrong with that. Second, over time, we learn how people react to feedback, and if they are generally negative or argumentative, we stop being honest. Feel free to direct that poor responder to my earlier post on receiving criticism.
Another element I've seen in critique groups is that once you become invested in a person or a story, selective perception kicks in. If we like someone, we may literally see the story better than if someone we didn't like handed it to us. It's called the "halo effect" in interpersonal communication.
I've been really fortunate to be a part of a couple of great writing/critique groups over the past couple of years. I appreciate all the feedback I get, even if I choose not to make changes as a result. I'd like more. I'm looking for either a few people who might want to read a middle grade novel to provide general feedback, someone who wants to exchange manuscripts for beta reading, or a small group of writers who might want to start a new critique circle. I'd prefer YA/MG writers. I'm totally flexible. I'd love to hear from you if you're interested.