How to Give Feedback (Constructive Criticism)

April 7, 2019 Morgan Meredith

We don’t often learn how to give feedback appropriately. Learn how to set the tone and how to phrase feedback and constructive criticism to deepen relationships at HealthyPlace.

We often practice receiving constructive criticism appropriately, but many people don’t learn how to give feedback to others. Feedback makes our romantic and working relationships stronger, so giving that constructive criticism can truly change our lives for the better. 

Before You Give Feedback

Before giving the feedback, make sure the other party has time to chat. It’s difficult to deliver an important message when that person is trying to leave in the next five minutes or focused elsewhere. You can even ask, “Do you have time to chat for a couple minutes?” Make sure this conversation happens in private; public negative feedback can be embarrassing for everyone involved.

Start the conversation by creating a sense of relatedness with the other person. Thank her for taking the time for the conversation. Find something you can acknowledge her for. Tell that person what you appreciate or admire about her. Starting the conversation with this puts that person at ease and sets the tone for a productive discussion, rather than an adversarial one. 

Also, make your goal clear. Tell the other person that you want to have a better working or romantic relationship, and that you want to come out of the conversation closer. Share that you want to know each other on a deeper level

How to Phrase Feedback

The older corporate model of the feedback sandwich, with a negative criticism couched in positive feedback, is ineffective at best.1

Instead, when you give feedback, be genuinely curious. If you have an interpretation of a situation, make sure to share your interpretation as exactly that. Avoid hyperbole such as “always” and “never.” Also, whenever you have the opportunity, phrase sentences to portray that you’re on a team together striving toward the same goal.

Ask questions to find out what the real issue might be. It’s rare that someone acts callous on purpose, so try to find the true source of the difficulty.

For example, if a coworker consistently fails to deliver work for important deadlines, you might give this feedback as follows:

Kai, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I’m grateful for the working relationship we share. Hearing about your dedication to learning to play the trumpet outside work has inspired me to focus more on developing a new hobby myself. 

I want our working relationship to continue to grow, and for our team to excel together. What I’m concerned and curious about is our deadlines. I’ve noticed that, at times, we have a deadline pass, but our team’s work isn’t complete. We have a great team of capable people. Do you think that our deadlines are too ambitious for the team to manage? Is the work unevenly distributed, in your opinion? Would putting another process in place help us remember the deadlines better or communicate more effectively?

Asking these types of questions allows the other person to think about the situation and come up with solutions. You may have some solutions of your own, but it’s possible you have solutions for a problem that doesn’t exist. 

As you prepare to give feedback, think of the reaction you’d have as a recipient. That way you’ll be more likely to have empathy as you give feedback. 


1. Von Bergen, C. W., et al., "The Sandwich Feedback Method: Not Very Tasty". Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business.

Tags: feedback

APA Reference
Meredith, M. (2019, April 7). How to Give Feedback (Constructive Criticism), HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Morgan Meredith

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