How to Give Feedback

Two Parts:Forming a Helpful OpinionDelivering Constructive Feedback

Criticism and praise are powerful tools in an office, business or creative project. Good, constructive feedback is rich in description, direct and delivered in a positive way. Learn how to deliver and give helpful feedback.

Part 1
Forming a Helpful Opinion

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    Wait to give feedback until you aren’t feeling angry, excited or overwhelmed. Emotions can cloud good judgment, so give it a day or a week before you express yourself.
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    Consider your intentions before you give feedback. If it comes from a place of jealousy, resentment or boastfulness, your feedback is unlikely to be helpful or constructive. You may make a situation worse by speaking out.
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    Try to remain as neutral as possible. Although feedback is a subjective opinion, you should be able to assess all aspects of something. Appreciate the good and the bad.
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    Write down your observations. Describe how you felt and what you saw. Try not to muddle this important feedback with interpretations or emotions.[1]
    • For example, an observation is “your report was heavily sourced” while an interpretation might be “you couldn’t have possibly ready all the books in your bibliography.”
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    Divide feedback into positive (pro) and negative (con) columns. This is for your own personal use to ensure your feedback is fair and balanced.[2]
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    List reactions that the person should be aware of. You can suggest a course of action. Don’t give feedback that doesn’t provide options to review and change the situation.
    • This is the time when you can reference rules, acceptable behavior, a syllabus or term of service that has not been met.
    • Be specific, not ambiguous. For example, instead of writing “This is unacceptable,” try writing, “The writing style does not follow the protocol and professionalism that is expected for market research reports.”
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    Reread or review the item a second time to ensure you have all the necessary info.

Part 2
Delivering Constructive Feedback

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    Choose face-to-face feedback over email or phone whenever possible. You will get your message across better because you will be able to convey your meaning with emotions and handle issues that arise.
    • Although online feedback is helpful, consider calling a company to complain about a product or shipment. A customer service representative will be able to handle your issue more quickly. They may also give you the apology and reparation that you are looking for because they can hear the concern in your voice.
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    State your reason for the feedback if the person whom you are addressing is not aware that they will be receiving it. Try saying, “I arranged this meeting because I wanted to discuss the recent project.”
    • If the feedback is mostly negative, you can prepare the person by saying, “I have a concern that I thought we could address.”[3]
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    Start with a compliment. If you’ve ever heard the adage, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” then you know that negative criticism should be wrapped in positive statements. Choose something from your “pro” column to lead the conversation.
    • If you are critiquing someone for work, try saying “What I appreciated about your work was…”
    • If you are writing a review online, try saying, “I was so excited to try out this product. I’ve been waiting for a product like this.”
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    State your observations. List the things you saw as directly as possible. Avoid adding emotional reactions.
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    Add the reason that those observations have bearing on a project, a person or a company. Don’t allow hyperbole, just state what problems it may create.
    • For example, if you observe that a person’s report didn’t address the subject they were asked to answer, you could say, “I feel that we can address this now and improve your final paper.”
    • Also, if you are explaining unacceptable behavior to an employee, you can say “I saw the way the team was interacting, teasing Mr. G because of his age. The employee rules of conduct don’t support this behavior and it should stop before there is a harassment problem.”
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    Allow the person to respond to the criticism. Ask the person “What are your thoughts about this paper/event?” This is your opportunity to ensure they have understood the feedback.
    • If you are calling a business, ask them what they think about what you’ve said. Then, be silent. Don’t break an uncomfortable silence for 30 seconds, but give the person time to think about how to handle the feedback.
    • Don’t be afraid if the person’s reaction is angry or negative. This is how some people respond when embarrassed or caught off guard. Allow the person to blow off some steam or respond at a later date if necessary.
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    Respond with support. Thank the person for their time and say that you would be happy to support them with a new draft. If the feedback was mostly positive, try a statement like “Keep up the good work” or “I’m really impressed by your work ethic.”
    • Always end the discussion on a positive note.
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    Keep your tone calm and unemotional during the exchange.[4] Defensiveness or anger will reduce the effectiveness of your feedback. This is especially important if you are calling to complain about a service, since a customer service representative is more likely to respond to a calm, reasonable complaint.

Article Info

Categories: Conversation Skills