In all kinds of situations we may need to give feedback to someone about something they have said or done.  This may be an employee, a work colleague, a business partner.    But it may  equally well be a close friend or relative.  In my view the same principles hold good and they certainly work for maintaining a positive approach in change teams

McGill and Beatty (in “Action learning: A practitioner’s guide”, London: Kogan Page, 1994, p. 159-163) provide useful suggestions about giving effective feedback:

1. Clarity — be clear about what you want to say. Think before you speak!

2. Emphasize the positive —  this doesn’t mean you are endorsing the present behaviour!

3. Be specific — avoid general comments and clarify pronouns such as “it,” “that,” etc – be as clear and simple as you can!

4. Focus on behaviour or the words spoken or written rather than the person.

5. Refer to behaviour/approaches that can be changed.

6. Be descriptive rather than evaluative. Try to stay in the neutral ground emotionally!

7. Own the feedback — Use ‘I’ statements. This is your view!

8. Generalizations – be wary of word like “all,” “never,” “always,” etc., be more specific — often these words are arbitrary limits on behaviour.

9. Be very careful with advice!  People rarely struggle with an issue because of the lack of some specific piece of information; often, the best help is helping the person to come to a better understanding of their issue, how it developed, and how they can identify actions to address the issue more effectively.

I would add one further piece of advise – always put yourself in the other person’s shoes!  Think how you would feel receiving the same information!  No room here for humiliation!


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  2. Great post Wendy – it is something dear to my heart and can be well done following your simple guidelines 🙂

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