How to give and receive feedback to make it work

Imagine the situation: a person needs to draw a picture with his eyes closed. Something will come out, but you don’t know what it is. This is exactly how specialists who receive no feedback feel. They continue to perform tasks, but there is no understanding of whether they are doing it well or poorly. Or vice versa: they only hear about the shortcomings or merits of the work. Gradually the motivation falls and the desire to achieve results disappears, because everything is already very bad or very good.

According to statistics, 96% of respondents want regular feedback on their work. So if you feel that there is no one to give feedback to, this article will still be useful for you. Not only specialists should receive feedback, but also colleagues, managers or customers. This article explains how to give and receive feedback so that you don’t want to give up.

What is feedback and what is it

Feedback is one person’s reaction to another person’s action or inaction. The purpose of feedback is to correct the behavior of the person to whom it is given. Feedback is feedback only if it is addressed to the person whose behavior needs to be changed.

Feedback comes in several varieties.


  • The absence of any response is also feedback. Any person who loves his job wants to get better. But with zero feedback he falls into an information vacuum.

This leads to the fact that:

  • the person doesn’t understand how he or she is doing at work;
  • continues to perform tasks by inertia;
  • gradually loses motivation and begins to either work worse or refuse the task.


This is one of the most effective ways of non-material motivation. According to a Gallup survey, 67% of employees who regularly received positive feedback were fully engaged in the process, as opposed to 31% of professionals who were constantly criticized.

But if given only positive feedback, it could be that:


  • At first, the person will be very pleased and continue to perform well;
  • then the praise will be devalued;
  • there may be doubts about success or a “crown” on the head;
  • only positive feedback will be accepted;
  • Motivation will slowly but steadily decline.


This kind of feedback is perceived worst. It is very often the blind spot from Johari’s Window, a psychological model of self-knowledge.

The term refers to qualities or elements of behavior known about the person to others, but not known to himself. For example, everyone knows that a specialist often exceeds his advertising budget, but he does not notice it because he is given more and he considers it the norm. A conversation on such a subject may be received with hostility.

Negative feedback can be a good tool for development, but only if the person himself is willing to work on his mistakes. According to a study by psychologist Marcial Lozada, the ratio of praise to criticism should be 3:1.

Negative feedback alone has the following consequences:

  • the person works under great psychological pressure;
  • motivation drops because he thinks that the work will not be appreciated anyway;
  • the quality deteriorates;
  • the refusal of cooperation is possible.


Such feedback combines both recognition and work on mistakes. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 57% of professionals want developmental feedback more than they want positive feedback.

With this kind of feedback:

  • the person feels constant supervision and support;
  • understands what was done well and what can be improved;
  • knows their growth areas;
  • motivated.

Developmental feedback is considered the most effective.

The rules of feedback

Always talk about a specific event

Generalization is not appropriate for quality feedback and sounds like an unsubstantiated accusation. It is important to talk about specific situations where undesirable and/or desirable behavior was demonstrated, to tell what actions caused success or failure. Otherwise, it will be difficult to repeat a great result or correct mistakes.

Bad: “You’re constantly delaying reports.”

Good: “This month you sent your reports a week late. Last month I got them five days late. Let’s talk about what the reason is and how we can fix it?”

Speaking immediately after the event

Feedback has an expiration date. The more time that has passed since the situation that needs to be discussed, the lower the effectiveness of the dialogue.

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Bad: “Remember two weeks ago when I asked you to send a new SN for approval? And you didn’t!”

Good: “I asked you to send me a new SN by 6 p.m. today, but I didn’t get it.”

Use objective, unambiguous information.

When giving the feedback, it is important to give facts, not speculation. Otherwise it will be a game of offense and defense.

Bad: “I think you spent a lot of time on key selection and budget allocation again.”

Good: “It took you six hours today to select keys and calculate your ad campaign budget. That’s a lot.”

Discuss the event or action, not the person

It is very easy to insult a person. Some will be offended and shut down, some will become aggressively defensive, and some will turn negatively on others. Quality feedback is a list of facts, but not a personal assessment of the situation. It’s important to tell what the person’s actions look like from the outside and what the consequences are.

Bad: “How slow you are! Not the first year you’ve been running a campaign, but you spend two days working on your reports!

Good: “On Project XXX, it took you 16 hours to create the report. Because of that, I couldn’t budget for the next month in time because I don’t quite understand the current situation. I know that in you can create online reports. Takes about a minute.”

Giving feedback in person

There’s a rule of thumb: “Scold in person, praise in public.” And if the first part is obvious (public criticism can cause stress and discourage work on mistakes), then you can argue with the second. Public praise makes many people nervous, too.

It’s better to give feedback personally, even if it’s positive. It’s not just about the individual perception of the OS, but also about the other person’s desire to speak up during the feedback.

Bad: “Well done everyone, everyone worked well. Petya did a particularly good job, but because of Vasya our positions almost sagged.

Good: “At the end of the month we doubled the conversion rate. Within an hour I will send each letter with a detailed feedback.

Listening to the interlocutor

It is important that the person you are talking to can share his experiences, his point of view, ask for advice, or even argue. It may be that the person giving feedback has incomplete or erroneous information, or the incident occurred for reasons beyond the professional’s control.

If the professional has had errors in his or her work, you don’t need to bombard him or her with speculation. It is important to ask about the reasons for what happened, to ask questions that help make sense of the problem for both parties. Feedback is always a dialogue.

The bad: “It takes you a long time to write announcements. It slows down the whole process. Teach you to write faster.”

Good: “Because you took 5 hours longer to write ads, we didn’t get the campaign up and running yesterday. What prevented you from meeting your deadline the most? What do you think caused the problem?”

Looking for solutions to problems together

After figuring out the problem, don’t dump the professional or immediately offer your own solutions. Let the person think for himself or herself what can be done to improve the result. It is easier and more pleasant to carry out solutions that have not been imposed. If the specialist does not know how to solve the problem, and the one giving the feedback has options for solutions, you can offer them.

Bad: “I suggest that next month we automate processes. It’s important for work.”

Good: “To work more effectively with keyword phrases, you can use automation tools. When I was running a campaign myself, they helped me a lot. What else do you think you can do to get tasks done faster?”

Feedback Models

There are many models of feedback. Let’s break down the most popular ones.


This is the classic developmental feedback pattern. It is used in conversations on the correction of results, goal setting, development.

  • Positive. Starting with a positive assessment.
  • Improve. Talks about what needs to improve, agree on an action plan.
  • Positive. We end the conversation in a positive, express confidence that things will work out.
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A person doesn’t fight back when he hears about the weaknesses of the job, because more is said about the strengths. It’s important to turn negative sentences (“Don’t do that anymore”) into positive ones (“In my opinion, this is more effective”) and to really believe that everything will work out.


This goal achievement technique is actively used in coaching. But even so, it is also suitable for providing developmental feedback. Answering the questions helps to analyze the situation independently, to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to draw conclusions about what needs to be improved.

  • Goal. What were the goals you set?
  • Reality. Was it accomplished? On a scale of 0 to 10, how much do you rate your performance?
  • Options. If something else could have been done, what would have been done to get a score of 10? What would a more experienced person do in this situation? How would he or she have solved the problem?
  • Will (Intent, plan). What will be done next time to accomplish the goal? How will it be done? What will be the first step? When will it be done?


Like GROW, this developmental feedback model requires self-reflection. It allows you to self-describe the situation, articulate the problem that was faced, outline the actions to be taken to solve it, and talk about the result.

  • Situation. What does the situation look like? What emotions does it provoke?
  • Task. What tasks were assigned.
  • Action. How were decisions made? What was done?
  • Results. What results were achieved?
  • Alternative Results. What could have been done differently? What will be done next time?




The model is often used in situations where you need to give a negative feedback, but it works well for developmental feedback as well. It is considered very effective, because the person giving the feedback, says what he or she feels, and this evokes an emotional response and additional attention from the interlocutor. It is important to be sincere. If you express feelings that no one else has, it will be immediately obvious and have a negative effect.

  • Behaviour. Talk about the event, the action, the facts. We do not add any emotional connotations, but provide objective information.
  • Outcome. Lists the consequences of what the behavior did or could have led to.
  • Feelings. Describe only own emotions, feelings that were a reaction to this behavior.
  • Future. Discusses what specific steps we need to take to stop the behavior from happening again. Asking questions to see how the problem will be dealt with.


Can be used for disciplinary conversations, situations that involve misconduct, failure to perform duties. It is appropriate if there are written agreements and standards that are clear and known to both parties.

  • Standart (Standard). A reminder of established standards (“This is how it should be”). Explaining why it is important to observe time limits, sequences of actions, and work rules.
  • Observation. Talks about observations, giving concrete facts.
  • Result: Explains why it is important to follow time limits and sequences, and why it is important to follow rules of work. Explains the impact of action or inaction on personal results, teamwork, business consequences etc., with specific examples. It is important for the interviewee to agree to comply with the standards.


The model is good for assessing the results of teamwork, positive feedback. It helps to consolidate the results achieved.

  • Successes. Ask them to share their successes, what made them possible.
  • Learn. We find out what important things the person has learned, what lessons have been learned in the situation.
  • Change. We discuss the changes learned from the new experience; we talk about how to apply them in the future to consolidate success.


This is a rather categorical model for negative and developmental feedback. It is suitable for working with conscientious people who will not be intimidated or offended by strictness.

  • Stop. Gives examples of undesirable behavior and asks you to stop doing it.
  • Start. Talks about how to behave.
  • Continue. Talks about what a person is good at, what they are valued for, and what you should keep doing.


The model fits all types of feedback. It has two options.

  • Example. We talk about a situation, giving examples.
  • Effect. Talks about the consequences that happened or what could happen in the future because of the behaviour.
  • Change/Congratulate. Depending on which type of OS is given, either talk about what and how to change the behavior or congratulate the success.

Whichever model of feedback is used, it is important to remember the rules of feedback. Only then will there be results.

How to take feedback

It is never pleasant to listen to feedback. Time was spent, effort was made, and the results were not good enough. It is important to remember that feedback is given primarily for the purpose of development. If the manager or client has no desire to improve the quality of the specialist’s work, it is likely that he is not very interested in it. Here are a few tips to help you work properly with feedback.

Ask for general feedback yourself if it is not given

Feedback can be general (about what the strengths and weaknesses are, what the points of growth are) and substantive (about what exactly is wrong with creatives, settings, etc.). The substantive feedback is given more often. The client, supervisor, or colleague may not have time for general feedback, so it makes sense to initiate the conversation yourself.

You can say this: “It is important for me to develop as a specialist, so I would like once a month or quarter to discuss the results of my work, receive recommendations. I’ve done this and that in the past period. Let’s agree on when it’s convenient to discuss my performance and points of growth.”

Accept information without judgement

The first reaction to a critical comment is anxiety, stress, and a desire to defend yourself.

You need to give yourself a few seconds and think about what you heard, not get defensive, focus on the subject of feedback, not on your own person. Any job can always be done better.


Recognize Objective Data

The desire to defend one’s decision by all means is natural. But it is wrong. Especially if the interlocutor is completely right.

Feedback is not a suggestion you can disagree with. It’s how the results of the work have already been seen. Instead of excuses, you should thank the person who gave the feedback and consider the reasons.

Don’t forget to be polite and humble. It’s worth making it clear that the effort and time other people put into helping someone with their work is appreciated.

Engage in the discussion, not remain silent on the sidelines

You don’t have to shy away from discussion and answering questions, and you don’t have to be afraid to ask questions yourself. The person giving the feedback is usually happy to discuss specific points.

It’s also important to figure out if there were enough resources to complete the task, if everything depended solely on the specialist. You can find out how other people handle such tasks. Figures, calculations and suggestions are much more convincing than excuses and empty objections.

Implement comments

Feedback will be useless if it is not taken into account. You need to listen to comments and advice, implement them, and have them checked to see if everything was done right. But you have to remember that in the work, the responsibility for the result lies solely with the specialist, and it is his right to decide what is useful and what is not. At the same time, it is important to have good reasons for not listening to some of the advice.

Feedback is an excellent tool that allows you to increase the effectiveness of your campaign. The main thing is to use it regularly and follow all the rules, so that communication will produce results.

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