Strategies for Effectively Giving and Receiving Feedback in Business

By: Kaplan Financial Education
March 29, 2019
Meeting betweek two colleagues to provide feedback on performance.

Feedback: for most of us, this gift isn’t our first choice to receive. The term, whether we call it feedback, input, constructive criticism, or collaboration, resonates with most of us as a negative instead of positive. I soundly think that an individual’s ability to appropriately respond to and incorporate feedback makes or breaks leaders.

There are two sides to the “feedback gifting” equation: giving and receiving. In today’s workplace, the ability to refine both skills is critical to leading well. Feedback is an artform. Most people would prefer to opt out of participating because frankly, it takes some serious effort to articulate feedback in a constructive way. It is even more challenging to receive it in a wise way.

Below are my top 3 tips for both giving and receiving feedback in a way that promotes leading well.

How to Effectively Give Feedback   

  1. Be selective. Make sure it’s observed as a trend, because everyone has a bad day once. Ensure the feedback is based on a pattern that is causing the individual to reach an outcome that is not the desired one. Ensure the feedback is important enough to make a difference, as opposed to coming across as “nitpicking.” Plan appropriately to ensure sharing this feedback is actually helpful.
  2. Be gentle. Receiving input that has to do with changing behavior is not easy. Recognize this and think about how to express the input gently. Each recipient has a different tolerance for directness with coaching. Ideally, you’ll know your team member well enough to determine the best approach. With that said, always err on the side of being as gentle as possible during the feedback phase. If the behavior escalates to the point where it requires advanced coaching or disciplinary action, that is a different story. But for simple feedback, gentle is better.
  3. Be encouraging. Once you’ve shared the primary feedback, prepare to share a couple positives from the situation. Provide encouraging observations to relay that your intentions are genuinely intended to support the team member’s overall success.

How to Effectively Receive Feedback  

  1. Be attentive. Listen carefully and take notes if needed. Be 100% present in this moment to truly hear everything the giver is saying. Resist the urge to let your mind wander to a defensive place or tune the person out. The information they are sharing with you is a gift, and you can choose how to use it.
  2. Be engaged. Restate the feedback and the impact that it is causing, as you have heard it. Make sure this comes across as clarifying the feedback, not discounting it. Ask for ideas and suggestions to handle the particular situation or behavior in a way that would be more beneficial to all involved.
  3. Be appreciative. A team member bringing feedback to you, whether it be your boss, customer, or peer, is a way of them telling you, “I care about your success.” Thank them sincerely for the feedback. Let them know that any time they have feedback for you, it is welcomed. This will reinforce the culture of transparency and trust.

Real trust is built on honest dialogue. Receiving and giving feedback is part of honest dialogue. Spending the time, seeing it as a gift, and wrapping it well (whether giving or receiving), will have high returns in your ability to lead effectively. The best teammates are the ones who can be candid with one another. In order to trust each other, highlighting both negative and positive feedback is critical. Kaplan offers programs for leadership training that include giving appropriate feedback. Learn more about them here.


Asha Bianca is a dynamic, innovative, and resourceful Senior Level Executive with 20+ years of proven history in growing measurable value in student, customer, employee, and shareholder interests. Asha understands how to grow the bottom line without negatively impacting the business and corporate culture. Throughout her career, she has led teams and departments of all sizes through major change, while minimizing the risk to the business to ensure the organizational health of the company is strong.