How to give feedback

by Unre Visagie

How to give feedback, bridging the feedback gap



For some reason I have a feedback gap. Ìt always makes me nervous. When I receive feedback, I often withdraw and go into the poor me – mode. When I give feedback, I’m always afraid that people will take it as criticism. How should I bridge this feedback gap?

giving feedback to peers


Feedback is essential for growth. The most important thing about it is that it should always lead to something constructive, only then can it really act as a motivational tool for growth.

Feedback consists not only of getting feedback, but also of giving feedback. The glue that bonds these two dimensions together, is the development of an action plan to deal with the content of the feedback. It is essential that action follows feedback, otherwise no growth will result.

giving receiving feedback


When is feedback positive and when is it negative?

Can you give me some guidelines that will enable me to be more effective in giving feedback?

how to give effective feedback to your students


One can close the feedback gap and enhance feedback by:

  • Focusing on what you say, how you say it and when you say it,
  • Distinguishing between negative and positive feedback, and by
  • Ensuring that your feedback results in a SMART(M) action plan

The SMART(M) action plan and closing the feedback gap

S Specific: You should be able to break your goals into manageable chunks.
M Measurable: How will I know? (See? Hear? Feel?) What is the evidence procedure?
A Achievable: Is this within my control? Do have I the skills, the resources, the authority? Do I give myself permission to act?
R Rewarding: The benefit must be greater than the cost, otherwise you won’t achieve the goal (causes procrastination).
T Timing: When do I start? How long will it take? What are the mileposts so that I can monitor that I am on my way?
M Monitor: We added a last M for monitor. We found that one can have the most amazing plan, but without monitoring and tracking it until completion; the chances for successfully completing this plan is minimal.

Feedback should always result in something constructive and actionable. When you are about to give feedback and are afraid that it might be destructive in a way, rather apply the 24 hour rule.

Sometimes the need to give feedback was caused by something that triggered emotions; these emotions can interfere with giving constructive feedback. If this is the case allow at least 24 hours to pass before giving feedback. The 24 hour rule allows these possibly interfering emotions to play themselves out before giving feedback. This is sometimes difficult to do, but once you have done this a few times the feedback gap will be significantly reduced!

how to give constructive feedback

Constructive Feedback

Developing a SMART(M) action plan

  • What is to be done?
  • Who is to do it?
  • When is to do?
  • How do we monitor?

Close the feedback gap by giving

  • Descriptive feedback
  • Specific feedback
  • Constructive feedback
  • Timeous feedback
Negative feedback Positive feedback
Should always be in private. Praise in public as person and others benefit as well.

Focus on the problem:

  • What was the behavior
  • What was done
  • What’s was said

And not on the person.

Focus on the person:You did a great job!

Put into context – Period of time.

People are then more ready to accept.

Make permanent by using:You “always” produce good results.
You” never” let us down.
Make specific – Resolved Copy (great)
how to give performance feedback


Remember that feedback should always be constructive.

Never cause pain, other than as a signal to learn something new or to do something differently.

how to give good feedback


Receiving feedback is an even worse nightmare! I often feel that everyone else is trying to burst my bubble… What can I do to change this mind set and close this feedback gap I have even more?

giving feedback to your boss


Always give constructive feedback, be aware and bridge the feedback gap!

There are two different sets of tools that will enable you to deal effectively with the feedback you receive:

  • Using open-ended questions to explore exactly what is expected of you. Read the questioning skills applet.
  • Using NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) techniques like reframing and dissociation to see yourself inside the picture.

It is natural to feel attacked when one is at the receiving end of critical feedback (poor me); however, reacting in a defensive or attacking manner curtails the feedback, stops the growth process and stretches the feedback gap even more.

A person coming from the personal power model (maturity), who receives unpleasant feedback controls his natural feelings of defensiveness and gets more information by using the following technique:

negative positive feedback

Negative Positive Feedback

  • TELL me more.
    • Use Open-Ended questions: What, when, where, who, how to determine an Action Plan.
  • WHAT is to be done?
    • (Now/Next time/In future)
  • WHO is to do it?
    • (Who is to be responsible? What other resources are needed?)
  • WHEN is it to be done?
    • (When is it to be started? How long will it take?)
  • WHERE is to be done?
    • (What area, location etc.)
  • HOW do we monitor it?
    • (How will I know your plan is working? Who does the checking?)
  • Reframing
    • What else (that would be to my benefit) could this mean – this method is commonly known as Lateral Thinking.
  • Dissociation
    • When feedback is hurtful, I can dissociate from the feelings in order to effectively manage the feedback to find a solution.
giving feedback exercises


Deal with feedback in an emotionally intelligent way. While you’re at it why not also use the six thinking hats to enhance communication and understanding.

The first few times you are going to react like you always did. Make a conscious effort to be aware when giving or receiving feedback; focus on what to do, what to say and how to react for all to get maximum benefit from the feedback.

Handling feedback in a mutually beneficial way will eventually come naturally. Use the support of those around you and make them aware of how you are developing certain skills. Others will then learn from you and everybody grows and develops new skills!

About Unre Visagie
I am a master coach with 30 years of career and business coaching experience. I have built and sold many of my own multi-million dollar companies. I have always built my companies based on the principle of successful people make a successful company. I invest in people. As your coach you get 30 years of experience to help you do the work you love and earn the salary you want.

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