Feedback: love it or dread it?

What are the first words that come into your head when you think about

  • Giving feedback?
  • Receiving feedback?

David Rock (2008) tell us that when we hear the word ‘feedback’ our brain responds as though someone is walking behind us down a dark alley. Do you answers to the above questions reflect that?

Feedback, both positive and negative is of course central to learning. In such a changing world of work in which we must constantly learn and grow, it is important that we can both give and receive feedback well.

Lets see if we can change our perceptions about feedback. This is what I believe about it:

  • Feedback stops gossip
  • Feedback helps us and helps others
  • Through feedback people learn and grow – it is a gift
  • Through feedback we can learn more about ourselves and become better people
  • It’s normal and ok to feel defensive during or immediately after receiving negative feedback. It’s what you do with the information that is important
  • Asking for feedback about specific areas that you would like to develop is empowering and assists the feedback giver to know how to best respond

There is no magic formula for giving either positive or negative feedback. You can find many resources and frameworks. What is important is to:

  • Don’t only give negative feedback. When you see people doing something well or achieving something, tell them
  • Be authentic and do it from a place of caring about the person
  • Make sure constructive or negative feedback occurs as soon after you have noticed the need for it as possible
  • Be direct
  • Give constructive or negative feedback in private
  • Find out how each person you work with likes to receive both positive and negative feedback

Also, while it important to consider all feedback, you don’t have to accept all of the feedback you receive. You can choose what is relevant to you and your situation based on :

  • Who the giver is, in relation to their relationship to you and their level of  experience, knowledge and competence in the area they are providing you feedback in
  • Whether or not you believe the intention of the feedback is to serve you and help you grow or to diminish you in some way
  • What your personal development goals are

How are your perceptions and beliefs about feedback serving you?

Once you begin to view feedback differently you will feel differently about giving and receiving it. The only thing left to do then, is to find a way using your existing communication skills, or by developing new ones with which you are comfortable to make it an even better experience.

This article has been adapted from our online course Women in Leadership  If you would like more information about that or coaching, please give me a call on  0421 775 924.


David Rock, SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others, Neuron Leadership Journal, Issue one, 2008

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