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15 Ways To Offer Truly Constructive Feedback

9. Start With What Is Working

Real feedback is actually about telling the truth without blame or judgment. And the truth always has two parts: something is working, and something could be better. Start with what works, then share the upgrade.


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15 Ways To Offer Truly Constructive Feedback

15 Ways To Offer Truly Constructive Feedback




Key Ideas

15. Show Respect And Stay Objective

  • Choose words that do not put the receiver on the defensive.
  • Use "I" messages, like “I’ve noticed”, rather than "you" messages, like “you always.”
  • Keep your emotions out of it, as they can derail your message.
  • Maintain dignity by giving choices where possible.

14. Use Criticism Well

If you use criticism to bash or undermine, it will be harmful. If you dismiss criticism without reflection it will be useless. But if you assess criticism objectively and without emotion, you can discover what's useful to you, and shrug the rest off. 

13. Discuss Behavior, Impact And Action

Focus on the impact of specific behavior and give expected corrections, but refrain from focusing on personality or intent. This causes less hurt feelings.

12. Maintain Collaborative Communication

If someone brings up an idea you disagree with, don’t shoot the idea down. Doing so can shut down your channel of communication and make others less likely to share ideas in the future.

Instead, focus on building a culture of collaboration to encourage constructive criticism. 

11. Focus on a Behavior That Can Be Changed

Most people give feedback by making broad-based claims without providing evidence. Broad-based claims are interpreted as character evaluations and tend to be harmful.

Constructive criticism highlights things can be changed and provides some indication of how to change them.

10. Know When To Get To The Point

One of the biggest misconceptions about constructive criticism is that you must wedge your critique between positive openings and endings. However, this method doesn’t always translate into better performance.

Sometimes a leader has to get straight to the point and offer guidance on how flaws can be overcome.

9. Start With What Is Working

Real feedback is actually about telling the truth without blame or judgment. And the truth always has two parts: something is working, and something could be better. Start with what works, then share the upgrade.

8. Build A Bridge, Don't Burn One

Constructive criticism’s aim is to strengthen people, not to tear them down. Focusing on the issue or the behavior and not the person helps with that.

Explain the impact the behavior had on the business. Coming from a place of collaboration and support helps keep that bridge of communication.

7. Use Emotional Intelligence

Before delivering criticism, consider your emotional state and how the feedback to be delivered impacts all involved. 

Manage your emotions beforehand to obtain the desired outcome. 

6. Prepare The Recipient For Feedback

Frame the feedback with the outcome in mind, and prepare the recipient for what you have to say. It never hurts anyone to be told, "I need to tell you something that may be hard for you to hear."

5. Have A Private Conversation

Praise in public, criticize in private. Feedback loses value when people feel humiliated or embarrassed. So, use the right tone and motive and be constructive.

4. Point Out Opportunities, Not Faults

State your intention, why you’re the one sharing this feedback and how you are willing to help the person learn from it. 

Choose a private place and give them time to understand the next steps. Being proactive, by showing respect and listening to their impression helps to build trust.

3. Give Your Intention Some Attention

If you want to criticize to help someone improve their performance, approach it from a place of how you would want the information communicated to you.

Stay factual to avoid an emotional confrontation and make sure you create the space for it to be a conversation (versus a directive) that leads to a positive outcome.

2. Ground Your Constructive Criticism In Behavior

Constructive criticism clearly describes the behavior that you want changed. Examples:

  • Don’t say they are irresponsible, provide the dates when they have come in late.
  • Don’t say they are disrespectful, reference how they roll their eyes and sigh.
  • Don’t say they need to be more of a "team player," explain the specific behavior that you expect.

1. Focus On How To Change

To criticize constructively, frame it in a way that the focus is on the change that needs to occur and the benefits of implementing it without resorting to accusations or derogatory tone and comments.



Feedback provides an opportunity to gain insights about a person's personal and professional actions.
Without feedback, we will move in the same direction without realizing our shortcomings. ...

Types of feedback
  • Positive vs. negative. Positive feedback confirms that someone is taking good action, while negative feedback shows what actions need to be corrected.
  • Formal vs. informal. Formal feedback is given on a set schedule, and informal feedback is short and follows after an action or event.
  • Annual vs. monthly
  • Verbal vs. written
  • Manager vs. peer
Effective feedback
Effective feedback is:
  • Objective. Don't let your personal feelings get in the way.
  • Timely. Feedback should follow when the event is still fresh.
  • Constructive. Give respect and show that you have their best interests in mind.
  • Actionable. Feedback must include immediate next steps.
  • Warranted. Give your employees room for mistakes and learn from them.

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Start With A Casual Conversation

You’re trying to make the relationship better, so don’t jump to conclusions, be petty or accusatory. State what you’re experiencing in a non-threatening way and follow it wit...

Ask For A Private Discussion

Instead of avoiding the person, seek to address the issue head-on because, if left unaddressed, it’s only likely to get worse. 

Ask for a private discussion with the other person to express what you’re experiencing as pleasantly and agreeably as possible to avoid damaging the relationship further.

Always Be Direct

All people deserve to be treated professionally and with dignity. Remembering that being direct is not in contradiction with professionalism is imperative. Be direct, brave and respectful.

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Three different sides of risk
  • The odds you will get hit.
  • The average consequences of getting hit.
  • The tail-end consequences of getting hit.

The first two are...

The tail-end consequences

The tail-end consequences of an action or event (those with low-probability, high-impact) are all that matter.

In investing, the average consequences of risk make up most of the daily news headlines. But the tail-end consequences of risk (for example, pandemics and depressions) are what make the pages of history books.

Two of the biggest innovations
Two of the biggest innovations

Two of the biggest innovations of modern times are cars and airplanes. At first, every new invention looks like a toy. It takes decades for people to realise the potential of it.

Innovation is driven by incentives

There are three types of incentives:

  1. "If I don't figure this out, I might get fired." It will get you moving.
  2. "If I figure this out, I might help people and make a lot of money." It will produce creativity.
  3. "If we don't figure this out now, our very existence is threatened." Militaries deal with this, and it will fuel the most incredible problem-solving and innovation in a short time.

During World War II, there was a burst of scientific progress that took place. The government was in effect saying that if a discovery had any possible war value, then it had to be developed and put in use, regardless of the expense.

The conditions for big innovations to happen

The biggest innovations seldom happen when everyone's happy or safe. They happen when people are a little panicked and worried, and when they have to act quickly.

In 1932, the stock market fell by 89%. It was an economic disaster where almost a quarter of Americans were out of work. However, the 1930s was also the most productive and technologically progressive decade in history. Economist Alex Field writes that in 1941, the U.S. economy produced almost 40 percent more output than it had in 1929, with little increase in labor hours or private-sector capital input.

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