How to give feedback


Feedback is commentary you give in response to someone’s behavior or attitude. The difference between ‘feedback’ and ‘criticism’ is that feedback only addresses the behavior someone is capable of changing.

  1. Only describe behavior that you have personally witnessed or heard. Do this clearly and discreetly, don’t use words such as ‘always’ or ‘never’. So instead of “You’re always late,” it would be better to say “I saw you come in yesterday at 11.00”.
  2. Use the first-person; addressing someone in the second-person often comes across as an attack. It’s better to say, “It’s hard for me to concentrate if you talk too much”, rather than, “You talk too much”.
  3. Talk about the effect the other person’s behavior has on you. For example, “I heard you all talking about me this morning. I don’t think that’s very nice. If you’re not happy about something, I would prefer it if you would tell me to my face”.
  4. Give the other person the chance to respond and ask if they understand what you mean. Ask that person if they can change their behavior.
  5. Don’t forget to also give positive feedback. People often learn more from clear commentary on what they’ve done right than from criticism in response to mistakes.


  • This article can be found in Issue 28.

Text Caroline Buijs  Illustrations Louise Lockhart