How to give Negative Feedback in the workplace


Negative feedback can be hard to give but it is necessary. Receiving feedback is one of the best ways for an employee to perform.

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Negative feedback can be hard to give but it is necessary. Feedback, positive or negative, is essential to every individual in the workplace. Receiving feedback is one of the best ways for an employee to improve and perform. You need your colleagues' and managers' opinions in order to know if you are on the right path with your work. Could you picture yourself finding out your project is completely off track the day you hand it in?

Some people get nervous about giving negative/constructive feedback to others. Some are even afraid a confrontation will occur if they bring up criticism to someone else. Negative feedback is something that is necessary but you need to deliver it properly in order for it to be well received.

Here are a few tips on how to give negative feedback to your employees or colleagues:

1. It should be an unusual thing

Negative feedback shouldn't be something people are used to receiving. It should be a constructive comment about someone's work. It should also focus on how the other could improve. People who receive negative feedback too often will stop being motivated and will stop caring about the feedback they receive. The last thing you want to do is to make your employees or colleagues feel like whatever they do, it will never be enough.

2. It should be real-time feedback

Some people often think it is a good idea to wait for the "right moment" to give negative feedback to someone, but it's the opposite. Feedback is more effective when given in real-time or right after the incident occurs. That way, you will be able to discuss it with the other while having a fresh memory of what happened. For instance, if you want to give feedback to someone about the way they acted in a meeting, waiting a week might not be a good idea. Acting fast will resolve the problem sooner. Waiting to give feedback will only resolve in you making it a bigger deal than it actually is. Bringing up something that happened a long time ago can also make the other feel like you are holding grudges. This is not the reaction you are looking for when you are giving feedback.

3. It should always be given face-to-face

It can be tempting when you feel uncomfortable giving feedback to someone to just sent an email and call it a day. Indeed, it can seem easier, but it will just make it worse for the person receiving the feedback. When it comes to negative feedback, it is okay to send it digitally, but giving the person a heads up in person, if possible, can make things so much better. If not, you can always end your feedback with an invitation to talk more about it over skype or in person, if needed. Feedback should be the beginning of a conversation between two people. Sharing your feedback face-to-face allows others to share their insights on the situation as well. It also helps to avoid any misunderstandings regarding the feedback that was given.

4. Show others you believe they can improve

Giving constructive criticism is great in order for others to improve, but we sometimes need to be careful with how we address a situation. People can sometimes be discouraged when receiving negative feedback, especially if they thought their work was great. If they feel that way, they will be less likely to perform better after you deliver feedback. This is why reassuring the other person that you think they can do better might be necessary. Receiving encouragement at the end is always welcomed and ends the discussion on a positive note. Using feedforward here can be a great idea. You can focus on the other's strengths and figure out how he or she can use them to add something to the next project.

5. Build good relationships with your colleagues or employees

Building good relationships in the workplace can seem like a no-brainer. Its importance, though, is crucial. People will accept feedback better when it is coming from people they actually know. Receiving negative feedback from a manager you only talk to once a month won't feel as good as if you receive it from another manager who you talk to every week. Getting negative feedback from someone you barely interact with can be harsh. This is why building good relationships with others and taking the time to deliver positive feedback as well is important. You don't want people to feel like you only interact with them to criticize them.

6. End your negative feedback with a question

Ending your feedback with an open question is a great way to make the other understand you and also want to understand their side of the story. This shows that your feedback is not a one-way conversation. The main point of receiving feedback is to grow and improve. Your question at the end will likely start a conversation about how the company can do better. Make sure your question drives self-evaluation so the other can reflect on the situation.

7. Offer your help at the end

At the very end of the conversation, make sure you offer your help. Make yourself available to your colleagues or employees and show them you will be there for them while they improve. You can even make an action plan with the other person in order to help them even more. Consequently, showing your support is crucial because it demonstrates the reason why you gave feedback. The main reason to give feedback is always to help others and the organization you are in. Offering your personal help at the end will prove that point.


In the end, negative feedback can be hard to give and receive for everyone. It is important to keep in mind, though, that it is one of the best ways for any individual to improve and succeed in the workplace. The main goal of negative feedback is for the company to do better and we should all strive for its success. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are having a hard time delivering feedback to someone. Just remember that if you show your intentions are good and that you only want to offer your help, your feedback should be well received. Instead of focusing on just the past actions that were wrong, try to always end your feedback with a future perspective on how to improve!

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