No one likes being told the hard work they put in stinks! Like, really stinks!  You know that project you spent a million hours on both at work and at home just to get a “that’s not exactly what I was looking for” message from your boss.  Most people don’t like being the ones to deliver a harsh message about a project they know someone has spent countless hours on.  Sadly, it happens and needs to happen!  In order to grow and develop as a professional we need to learn the essentials of both giving and receiving better feedback.

I’ll always remember one of my first bosses criticizing me for not planning an event exactly how they saw it happening.  They weren’t upset about how the event went, actually really happy with it, but my process was different from their process.  I felt bullied, inadequate and questioned who I was.

As a professional, it’s so important to understand where people are coming from when they give feedback, stand up for yourself, and when it’s your turn to give it know exactly what to do.  These 5 tricks will ensure you’re off to a great start to both receive and give better constructive feedback.

Know the goals. 

Before you give or can fully receive feedback think about you and your team’s goals.

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • For whom?
  • Why are these the goals?
  • Who set them?
  • Are they set in stone or are they meant to change as the project develops?

Constantly refer back to these goals as you go through the feedback process.

Keep it professional.  

When both giving and receiving feedback, make it about the task or project and not a personal attack.

We all have different ways of doing things and the more we can understand each other’s processes the better we can improve and work together.  When someone is giving feedback or are receiving it, remember to not make it about the person.  This is not an attack on you as an individual, and is strictly professional..

Ask questions. 

If you’re unsure why you’ve received the feedback ask for clarification and be prepared, open minded and ready to hear the answers.  Use clarifying questions or statements like:

  • Tell me more
  • Can you give me an example?

This is known as a feedback loop.  Where it becomes a conversation between person a and b as opposed to one person disseminating information.

Tell the truth. 

If you don’t like something-say it.  If you’re in the position to give feedback, be constructive and say it where it needs to be said as opposed to talking about it when it’s either too late or not with the people who can implement the change.

Don’t be the one talking about it behind someone’s back.  Give the person the chance to speak and have an open conversation.

Be specific. 

If you’re receiving feedback, be specific about your project and how you came to the conclusions.

This isn’t a time to be defensive but to express and address any concerns in a professional way.  If giving feedback, let the person know what is not working and why it isn’t working.    This shouldn’t be a “read between the lines” situation.  They should be able to understand exactly what you mean and how they can implement a potential change.  You should also be open to them asking you questions along the way.


Praise Sandwich Technique for Giving and Receiving Better Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback is not always easy!

I’ve used the praise sandwich which tends to work well. It helps you focus on both the negative and the positive.

The outside layers (think bread) are the positive aspects while the inside (meat) is the negative.


It works like this:

  1. Start with something positive. Be truthful and honest about what you liked about the person’s work.
  2. What you noticed that can be improved upon, changed, or tweaked.
  3. End with something positive.

This is not meant to sugar coat the truth but is a great exercise for both the person giving feedback to identify the strengths and assets of the individual and for the person receiving feedback.

Have you tried this before?

Now that you know some strategies to both give and receive feedback, what do you think you’re going to try first? What has worked for you in the past?  Let us know in the comments below.

Alissa Carpenter

TEDx Speaker, Author, Facilitator at Everything's Not OK and That's OK
Alissa Carpenter is a multigenerational workplace expert, owner of Everything’s Not Ok and That’s OK and host of Humanize Your Workplace podcast.
She provides training, consulting, and speaking services to organizations all over the world. She has an MEd in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education from the University of Pittsburgh and is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. Her work helps to bridge communication gaps across generations, job functions, and geographies, and she has worked with organizations ranging from non-profits to multi-billion-dollar enterprises. She has delivered a TEDx talk on authentic workplace communication, and has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, ABC, FOX, and CBS. Her book, Humanize Your Workplace (Career Press), is set to release next year.
Alissa Carpenter