The Best Ways to Give Feedback

Jul 03 2019

One of the surest ways to improve your management skills lies in the art of giving constructive feedback.

Communication expert Christine McMahon suggests a 6-step process that will help prepare your thoughts and then engage in an easy flowing conversation.

Building Brave Expert Christine McMahon

Christine McMahon


  1. State the purpose of the meeting: Thank you for meeting with me. I would like to talk to you about the X project and how a couple of recent decisions were made.
  2. State the positive intention: I know you’ve worked hard on this project and I appreciate your commitment.
  3. Ask questions or state the issue: I understand there was a glitch with X. I’m wondering if you could walk me through what happened after that issue became evident? When you learned the results were falling short of expectation, how did you proceed?
  4. State the issue or Ask questions: Based on those results, what did you do? Where are you now on the project timeline and what do you want to happen next?
  5. Explore solutions: Would it be okay if we brainstormed some options together?
  6. Define and confirm next steps: Okay, so we have three initial options and it seems we both like option 1 best. Do you agree?

Relationship expert Lisa Merlo-Booth  believes feedback is a tremendous gift for all of us when given with a clean energy and no ulterior motives. It helps us grow and learn.

Building Brave Expert Lisa Merlo-Booth

Lisa Merlo-Booth

Give feedback directly and with compassion. You’re responsible for how you give feedback, not how the person receives it. Too often people try to sugar coat or dance around an issue when giving feedback, which increases the chances of confusion and lack of clarity about what exactly is being said.  

  1. Deliver feedback one-on-one, not in front of a group.
  2. Have clean energy when you deliver feedback, free from contempt, disgust or intense judgement (people make mistakes, your job is to help them learn from it– not beat them up about it).
  3. Speak to the issue keeping all comments focused on the specific behavior at hand and the consequences of those behaviors, not character traits of the person who did the behavior.
  4. Be specific about what needs to change, improve, or what you want going forward (without concrete suggestions, feedback turns into a complaint.
  5. Reward accountability – often people struggle with receiving feedback and being accountable. Be sure to tell people when they do a nice job handling feedback rather than spinning it into defensiveness or anger.

Download Building Brave’s Mobile Mentoring app for more advice from professional women at all ages and stages. Get guidance for your specific situation, or consider fresh voices and perspectives.



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About the Author

Meghan Wollack


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