How to give feedback

All feedback is supposed to be helpful and constructive. Yet, giving feedback can sometimes feel like walking a fine line between hurting someone’s feelings and being useful or positive.

Do you need to give feedback but fear coming off rude? Do you give feedback, but nobody listens?

There is a skillful way to deliver feedback to other people, and here’s how!

Speak at the right time

Don’t give feedback immediately after a situation, unless you are able to immediately put your emotions aside. Let yourself cool down and think logically in order to give feedback in the most constructive way. On the other hand, don’t wait too long until several mistakes have been made. Being approached at this point may feel like an attack and you may also have unconscious resentment due to repeated errors or behaviours that could have been corrected sooner.

Talk in private

No one likes to be criticised in public, it can cause humiliation or shame and can also make those around you uncomfortable. Make sure to set time aside privately to discuss the issues at hand.

Prepare them for the chat

On that note, when asking for a meeting, you should mention that you are wanting to give some healthy feedback. Something like “Can we catch up today after lunch, I was just wondering if we could discuss some feedback around client satisfaction?” It doesn’t matter what the feedback will focus on, however it will help for the person to mentally prepare for receiving some advice.

Mention positive attributes first

If warranted, mention something positive first. This not only softens what’s to come but it helps to show you realise they are competent, talented and capable to do their job. Doing this re-enforces that the feedback is specific and can be fixed easily without drastic changes to the way they usually work. 

Be specific

Tailor your feedback to the very precise situation, behaviour or error. Being vague can sometimes appear ingenuine and including too much feedback can seem like a personal attack. Make sure you are focused and prepared about what it is that needs to be addressed.

Don’t make it personal, keep to the topic at hand

Don’t ever make it personal and judge the persons character. You can, however, ask if everything is okay and check in with them to see if there is a reason they might not be performing so well. Just be human and remember not everyone always performs at their very best. All kinds of mistakes can be worked round and repaired. Even bad behaviour can be transformed. Keep a positive mindset, and instead of listing fault after fault, get to the point and then offer potential solutions. This will bring attention away from what the person has done incorrectly and focus more on what you can do to help and what they can do to improve.

Ask for feedback in return

Lastly, all individuals have room for improvement. Ask them, ‘is there anything I can do better to help you?’ or ‘is there any feedback you have for me which you think could help both of us?’. By including them in a back and forth conversation they won’t feel belittled. Rather, they will feel like an equal which is important because this is how they should be treated.

In this article: