When was the last time you provided feedback to someone? Do you remember why you gave feedback?

Since my work around feedback with Ewen and the lecture of Thanks for the Feedback. The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen I am much more conscious and intentional with my feedback practice. 

Receive feedback with openness and curiosity. 

That was my personal conclusion from my earlier blog How to train your feedback practice: Receiving feedback with openness and curiosity and my Zoom chat with Ewen

In this blog post, about the giving side of feedback, my conclusion is:

Give feedback with care and compassion.

I am a facilitator. For each workshop I support, the first step is clarifying the purpose. The Why is guiding and orienting the process. 

It is the same with giving feedback. 

Give feedback with a purpose in mind

You give feedback for a reason. 


Sometimes more consciously. Other times more spontaneously. 

In their book Thanks for the Feedback. The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen differentiate three types of feedback:

  • You give someone “flowers” to celebrate and encourage (appreciation)
  • You help someone to reflect, learn and grow (coaching)
  • You tell someone where she/ he stands (evaluation)

It is helpful to have these three types of feedback in mind even though the sharp line of the categories gets mixed up in practice. 

This is no problem. Just reality.

Feedback is at the intersection of two needs: our drive for learning & our longing for acceptance. – Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

So, the starting point for good feedback is purpose.

As a feedback giver it is my and your responsibility to do it right. 

Deliver feedback with care and compassion

Coming back to your feedback situation, do you remember how you went about it? Have you prepared for it? Was the feedback followed by conversation?

Ewen and I recorded another Zoom chat in our Facilitators Unplugged series: What can we do at our personal level to make feedback easier to take or give?

I summarised this here for you:

Be respectful

Stop and think before you speak. Taking a moment to prepare (even when only quickly in your head). Clarify your purpose and double check with your own triggers: Why am I giving feedback? Why now? What has the feedback to do with me (am I eventually triggered myself)? How you phrase a feedback can make a huge difference (check the book, it is full of examples). It is helpful when you try to put yourself into the shoes of the receivers and seek to understand her/ his perspective. 

Make it helpful

Always start with appreciation and then move to coaching. Be specific and timely in what you describe and offer some direction. By providing your perspective, how things look like from your point of view, you open the door for reflection and learning. 

Personally, I love the feed-me-forward kind of feedback with seeds of appraisal, encouragement and reflection. This helps me to work on my blind spots.

Make it mutual 

It is evident, feedback needs at least two persons, a giver and a receiver. I would add it is even better when a giver becomes a receiver and receiver becomes a giver. That way feedback is mutual with both parties involved. Engaging in conversation creates space for clarification and reflection.

If the listening is mutual, feedback is powerful. 

Give feedback with care and compassion.

In our 3rd Zoom Chat about feedback in our Facilitators Unplugged series, Ewen and I will focus on giving feedback collectively in a team or group.

PS. For upcoming learning opportunities check: https://linktr.ee/nadiavonholzen

Photo by jesse ramirez on Unsplash