How To Give Valuable And Constructive Feedback

We should all know how important it is to be able to accept feedback from others, specially constructive feedback, which allows us to improve ourselves, or the project or whatever received the feedback.

One way of giving feedback is to simply let it out there. Say it like you mean it, just like when the Sergeant is yelling into the faces of Privates in military movies (but without the yelling part of course). That’s a good approach for a lot of things, but when it comes to giving feedback, you really need to know how the recipient will handle that kind of feedback, before you let it out like that. Otherwise you run the risk of not getting anything good out of it – and then what was the point of giving feedback…?

A method of giving feedback, that I learned a few years ago, was to “open up” the recipient first. Don’t start out with the bad stuff, it will often cause the recipient to shut down and not pay enough attention to what you’re saying. Imagine how you feel when you spent hours working on something and you really did your best, only to have your teacher/boss tell you about all the bad things about it – leaving out what you actually did good, in the process. I don’t like that. Do you?

Instead, try to start out by saying something positive. Something that you really believe is good. I was taught to find three specific things to mention first, things that I liked about the project or whatever you’re giving feedback on. Yes, finding three specific things will most likely require you to really put an effort into it. But it’s worth it in the end.

For example, if you’re providing feedback on a report, you could say:

“I think the report you made were really good. Your choice of words on page XX was a wise choice and I agree with your conclusion on page XX”.

The recipient should be more open to feedback now, allowing you to explain what you didn’t like about the report. It’s important not to tear it apart though, pick your words wisely, make it sound like suggestions on how he could evovle – not only now, but in the future as well. Don’t just say “I think your report was too long, it took me forever to finish”. Instead, say something like “Next time you could try to make your report somewhat smaller by cutting down on …… and maybe …..”.

By now you have provided positive feedback and you have given constructive feedback with suggestions on how to improve and possible evolve in the future.

It’s now time for the closing. “I think you did a good job, I appreciate your efforts and I’m looking forward to…….”.

So to bottom line it:

  1. What you liked. Pick three specific things if you can.
  2. What you didn’t like. Make suggestions.
  3. Finish the process by providing more positive feedback.

That’s all it takes.

2 thoughts on “How To Give Valuable And Constructive Feedback”

  1. I really like what you wrote up here! 🙂 No matter how bad a project may seem at the first sight, it isn’t impossible to find a few good things in it. And if we bring up the positive aspects first, the other will be more open to accept some criticism put as suggestions.


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