Effective Coaching Blog
Kevin William Grant- Counsellor and Life Coach

Ten critical considerations when giving and receiving feedback

  • Kevin William Grant

A gold rule of coaching is identifying and sharing "what is so" and zeroing on the client’s "truth". Coaches don't confront clients, question their integrity, or inform them they are wrong.

Telling the truth means pointing out potential inconsistencies, contradictions, or intuitions about problem areas while at the same time acknowledging and upholding the client’s strengths.  Coaches help clients build upon the strengths they already possess. Effective coaches say what they mean and say it with conviction and honesty.

Feedback is telling another person how their words and actions affect you. In other words, letting someone know how they come across to you. Feedback helps you to realize what your words and actions mean to other people.

Ten Critical Considerations

Ten Important considerations when giving feedback are:

  1. Be positive. Focus on what the person is doing well when giving feedback (and not just what they can improve upon).
  2. Focus on the behavior, not the person. When discussing a problem with performance, keep your emotions in check. Focus on the actions of the individual, not the person.
  3. Be specific. Provide tangible examples of the behavior in question, not vague, “drive-by” criticism like, “You’ve been arguing with customers a lot” or “I’ve heard complaints about your attitude.”
  4. Be timely. Don’t wait until the employee’s annual performance appraisal to provide positive or negative feedback. The closer feedback is tied to the behavior in question (good or bad), the more powerful it will be.
  5. Make sure you are clear on why you are delivering the feedback. Often, feedback comes from judgment, and we don’t want to pass it off as feedback. So, it’s essential to pause and think about where the input is coming from and how can you deliver it in a way that will be received positively.
  6. Don’t use judgment as a means for feedback. Don’t use feedback as a cover for you to share an actual judgment or be critical of another person. Judgment is just your opinion of a person’s character and isn’t neutral.
  7. Provide feedback from a neutral place. Feedback is a piece of information or observation you are sharing. Once a person receives the feedback from a neutral space, the person can decide to change or not.
  8. Make it a two-way conversation. Take time to engage the employee and check for understanding. Focus on “partnership,” not “this is what you’re doing wrong,” or “this is what you need to change.”
  9. Follow up. If your feedback concerns a problem, look for opportunities to “catch them doing it right.” Reinforce positive behavior.
  10. Make sure you have these three qualities before delivering feedback. Feedback can best be received when you have the authority, credibility, and trust already established in the relationship. Without these three things, it makes it more challenging to receive feedback.

Pointers when Receiving Feedback

  • Ask for it.
  • Receive it openly.
  • Do not make excuses.
  • Acknowledge its value.
  • Don’t just sit there with a blank stare.
  • Express appreciation that they cared enough to give you feedback.
  • Don’t just say, “Thank you,” and let it drop.
  • View feedback as a continuing exploration.
  • Indicate what you intend to do with it.
  • Watch out for becoming defensive.
  • Try to avoid getting mad, seeking revenge, ignoring what’s said or the person saying it.
  • Don’t look for motives or hidden meanings.
  • Seek clarification.
  • Think about it and try to build upon it.

Pointers when Giving Feedback

  • Talk about behavior you can see.
  • Make it specific.
  • Make sure it’s relevant.
  • It does not necessarily have to be given on the spot, but it should be given as soon as possible.
  • It should be given directly, not hinted at or filtered through a third party.
  • Give the other person a chance to explain.
  • Give it caringly.
  • Feedback is not feedback when it’s meant to hurt – then it’s just attack.
  • Don’t just nag or hound a person about their behavior unless he/she has told you that he/she wants your help.
  • Avoid being judgmental. Watch for “right” or “wrong.”
  • The way we feel as a result of another’s behaviour is authentic and genuine. Share how you feel.
  • Be direct.
  • Avoid sarcasm or a condescending manner when giving feedback.
  • Share the positive too.
  • Do not give advice, just reactions.