Guidelines for Constructive Feedback
1. Constructive feedback is based on a foundation of trust between sender and receiver. Examine
your own motives: be sure your intention is to be helpful, not to show how perceptive and superior
you are, or to hurt the other; be on the other person's side. If the organization is characterized by
extreme personal competitiveness, emphasis on the issue of power to punish and control, and rigid
superior-subordinate relationships, it will lack the level of trust necessary for constructive
feedback, thereby contributing to closed communications and limited dialogue.
2. Constructive feedback is specific rather than general. It uses clear and recent examples. Saying
"You are a dominating person" is not as useful as saying "Just now when we were deciding the
issue, you did not listen to what others said. I felt I had to accept your argument or face attack
3. Be descriptive rather than evaluative. Describe what the person did and any feeling that aroused
in you, but do not label or evaluate it. "You interrupted me and that frustrates me because I lose
track" is descriptive; "You were rude” is evaluative.)
4. Constructive feedback is given at a time when the receiver appears to be ready to accept it. When
a person is angry, upset, or defensive, it probably isn't the time to bring up other new issues.
5. Constructive feedback is checked with the receiver to determine whether it seems valid. The
sender can ask the receiver to determine whether it seems valid. The sender can ask the receiver to
rephrase and restate the feedback to see whether it matches what the sender intended.
6. Constructive feedback includes behaviors the receiver may be capable of doing something about.
7. Constructive feedback doesn't include more than the receiver can handle at any one particular
time. For example, the receiver may become threatened and defensive if the feedback includes
everything the receiver does that annoys the sender.
8. Give feedback promptly. Feedback given soon after the event, except when the individual is upset
or otherwise not ready to listen, is better then when details are no longer clear in anyone's mind.
9. Offer feedback in a spirit of tentativeness. Offer it as one's personal perception, not as "the truth".
Being dogmatic usually puts people on the defensive.
10. Highlight costs of behavior to the other. If you can, help the other person see how the behavior in
question costs him/her, or prevents meeting his/her objectives, he or she will be more open and
willing to change.
11. Be open to receiving feedback yourself. Don't start a "feedback battle" because everybody will
lose, but be sensitive and listen to the reasons why the individual performs poorly. How can you
help to improve the performance. For example, the poor performer may think that you are favoring
one employee over the other. Why does he/she have this perception? Think about ways you can
avoid those perceptions.
12. Watch for any behavior of the other person while receiving feedback which confirms or
disconfirms the feedback. For example, while you give feedback the individual may be looking
around in the room instead of focusing on you. Use that as an example of why you perceive him or
her not to be listening to you when you speak.