How to give feedback and accept criticism?

Today, Bobbie, the ordinary office worker from our newsletter, finally finished the project he had been working on for the last few months, trying his best to do everything perfectly. Bobbie was very nervous before handing the project over to his boss, so he decided to show it to his colleague Sasha and get his opinion. He walked into the office with wobbly legs from excitement:
That's nonsense as usual! You're always acting like a fool

What's wrong with this feedback?

Everything is :)

Firstly, it's not feedback at all. In our culture, feedback is any kind of criticism. In fact, it is information that is intended to change a person's behavior or actions.

Secondly, feedback should not be directed at the individual – it's goal should be actions only. A person cannot affect their personality in a minute, but they can affect their behavior.

How to give feedback, even if it's critical? A few important steps:

Step 1. Get the right to give a feedback

If you want to give advice you weren't asked for, ask permission! Especially if you want to change their behavior with it.
It could go like this: - Do you want me to share some thoughts about your project? - Yeah, sure, go ahead
It could be the other way around: – Do you want me to share some thoughts about your project? – No, thank you, the project is still in work so I will ask you for the feedback later if you don't mind
If the person is not ready for your feedback, you shouldn't push it through. There will be no point in it, and it will be perceived as an attack and an attempt to violate personal boundaries.

Step 2: Explain your purpose from the beginning

Why do you want to give feedback? What is your goal? What do you want to achieve with it? If you are giving feedback to an employee, make it clear that you value your colleague and share the same goals here.
– I want our boss to like the project, so I hope I can help. – Thank you!

Step 3: Describe the context

If you want to discuss a situation in the past, be specific about which one you want to talk about.
When and under what circumstances did it happen? Avoid using generalization and judgments, such as: "you never…" "you always...". Something like this is sure to turn a coworker against you and a productive discussion.
– I remember our boss rejected your project last year. – Fact!

Step 4: Give your opinion

It should be detailed, specific and supported by facts. Do not evaluate the person, but only specific situations.

In this step, you give your honest opinion and describe the situation that happened. And don't forget Kim Scott's framework – it's important to be honest, show concern and don't try to withhold important facts.
– Your project’s structure and conclusions look like the other year so I think it could be rejected again

Step 5: Offer a solution

Focus on the future, don't parse the past for too long. Discuss how to fix the situation and not make mistakes right now.
If we discuss your weaknesses now, you won't make the same mistakes again and you'll have less stress

Summarizing the steps:


  1. Get the right to give feedback: “Are you interested in getting feedback on your project?”
  2. Explain your purpose: “We have a common goal which is to make sure your project doesn't get rejected by the boss”
  3. Describe the context: “There were few difficulties with the presentation and the speech last year”
  4. Give your opinion: “I see the same mistakes and worry the presentation may drug your project down again”
  5. Offer a solution (with focus on the future): “It will only take you a couple hours to fix these slides, but this way your project will definitely be approved. And you won't make the same mistakes in the future”

Thanks to a colleague, Bobbie tweaked his project and successfully presented it to his boss!
That's brilliant!

None of this would be possible without the basic principles of good feedback which are:

- feedback should be specific, based on facts
- feedback should be about action, not personality
- feedback should be relevant and given on time


In the following articles we’ll show you 5 feedback structures for different situations:

a) when it’s important not to criticize
b) when it’s necessary to influence a person's behavior in a particular situation
c) when standards or rules were ignored
d) when you're in informal environment where it’s appropriate to talk about emotions
e) when you need to reinforce strong and helpful practices

Feel that there is a lack of feedback in your team? There is no comfortable atmosphere to share your opinions?

We know it can be tough so we want to help!
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