Giving and Receiving Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback, whether it is during an annual evaluation or periodically during the year, does not have to be a painful or demeaning process.  Diane Levin, attorney and mediator, reminds us that the purpose of feedback is “an opportunity to build a relationship and trust with someone else.”  In her blog, “Seeing ourselves as others see us: the art of feedback”, she suggest seven tips for artfully giving feedback.


  1. Think about your goal.  The objective of feedback is to:
    1. Help people understand the goals to be met.
    2. Explain what they’re doing and not doing to meet those goals – be honest.
    3. Provide a realistic blueprint for improvement
  2. Provide privacy.  Giving and receiving feedback can be more comfortable for everyone involved if it’s done properly.
  3. Give specifics.  Provide specific details of exactly what isn’t working well and steps that need to be taken.  Be direct and clear.
  4. Stop being an avoider.  Delay doesn’t make problems go away – they will only get worse and be harder to deal with.
  5. Set out a clear action plan.  People need to know what comes next.  Make sure the goals are clear and that the other person understands them.
  6. Give positive feedback too.  Let people know what they’re doing great, as well as the negatives.
  7. Follow up.  Establish follow-up session(s) to see if goals are being met.*

When you are the receiver of feedback, recognize it as an opportunity for improvement and taking on future challenges.  Communications typically include a content message and a relationship message.  When trust is lacking in a relationship, it is easy to ignore the content of the message and to be overly focused on assuming or guessing the person’s motivation.  Tips to help the receiver of feedback make the most of the opportunity include:


  1. Be a good listener, avoid taking comments personally.
  2. Good listeners ask questions for clarification and learning.
  3. Acknowledge the information being given to you.
  4. You own 100% of your attitude, avoid acting defensive or argumentative.
  5. Own up to shortcomings or mistakes, we are all human.  Recognize the opportunity to learn from mistakes.
  6. Make sure you are clear and understand future expectations and goals. 
  7. Follow up.  Request “check-in” meetings with your supervisor to obtain feedback and discuss progress in meeting expectations and goal achievement.


* -ourselves-as-others-see-us-the-art-of-feedback/ by Diane Levin on March 13,2007