We’re living in an ocean of feedback. Sometimes I feel drown by negative feedbacks. Sometimes I feel confused without any feedback. And I’m clueless how to give a proper feedback. Richard William is an internationally recognized business consultant specializing in leadership development. From his book Tell me how I’m doing, he advises readers how to give feedback in an effective way. I did the experiment myself. The results were profound, out of control and surprising.

Positive feedback

I seldom give appreciation to others or myself. Richard suggests giving positive feedback on look, behavior and character. I tried this to my brother. “You’re good-looking today. I’m happy that you washed the dishes. You’re a good kid, ” I said. My brother was not convinced at all and replied, “Why are you so fake today?”

Supportive feedback

When I want to appreciate others’ behavior, I followed Richard’s advice – describe the specific behavior, its consequences and how I feel. I tried to thank my mum in this specific way. “Mum, thank you for cooking me dinner. It’s yummy and it makes me feel full and lucky that I have a good mum who still takes care of me. I feel like I don’t have to grow up at all and I enjoy being taken care of.” Despite my long and specific appreciation, I couldn’t identify any reaction from her. Only poker face.

Corrective feedback

My mum always talks negatively to me. I have never heard of any compliments from her. My self-esteem is low with her presence. One day I asked her, “Did you realize everything you said to me is negative? Did you ever encourage others? Could you stop personal attack? Give encouragement in stead of criticism, please. I don’t think I can do anything with this negativity.” She kept looping the negative comments again. I felt totally hopeless. “What is the meaning of life? Does anyone know?”

My mum fails to give me corrective feedback and I refuse to change as she wishes. Me too. I fail to give her corrective feedback and she keeps being who she is. I feel happier to go no contact with her. So I think unless others want the corrective feedback, it’s better not to give any. Maybe you can do it better than me by taking Richard’s advice to deliver effectively as follows:

  1. Try the supportive feedback first
  2. Use carefully guided questions
  3. State that improvement is needed
  4. Use appropriate discipline
  5. Draw a line in the sand


The book Thanks for the feedback by Doug Stone and Sheila Heen talks about the art of receiving negative feedback. They suggest the best question to ask for feedback to self-improve is that “What’s the one thing I can change so as to make the biggest difference?”

Understand first

When we receive the negative feedback, do we really understand it? Most likely, we might have a wrong interpretation if we don’t clarify the true meaning. It’s great to understand it from other’s point of view first. Ask where is the feedback coming from, what the adviser wants you to do differently and why.

I think the hardest part is to decide if the feedback is valid or not. Yet the negative feedback does tell us the impact we’ve made on others somehow. It helps us to recognize our blind spots, letting us know what we don’t know. Just like a CCTV video tape showing what we did from a third party’s point of view. I wish I could have an exclusive and invisible camera recoding my life so that I could watch it myself. This can skip asking people for feedback (If you’re an introvert, you will understand).

Avoid switchbacks

I always get defensive when my mum criticizes me for not doing things her way. I scold her for being rude and loud, pointing the finger at her instead. Doug Stone and Sheila Heen call this switchback, which means changing to another topic. Do I switchback to her tone? They suggest not to switchback when receiving negative feedback. Simply focus on discussing one topic at a time. This takes self-awareness to do so. And obviously I’m lacking that.

Build a growth mindset

After I get the feedback and understand it more, what’s next? Two choices here. One, thanks for the advice and don’t take it. Two, do small experiments to change in progress. There could be one more choice and I just invent it. That is, ask a friend to improve together.

Happy reading! And please give me feedback. 🙂

51 thoughts on “Feedback

  1. People always seem to think that a negative feedback is “honesty”, and that they are so very honest. It’s not like that at all, one can give positive feedback and be very sincere. Plus, people should stop giving advice when it is not asked for. Well, parents might do that when they think it might help their children, but should consider telling also the good things, rather than always only the bad. We have a saying in my country: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

      1. It means you can charm people with fine words and attitude and win them by your side (persuade them as well), rather than trying to force something upon them or dwelling in insults and so on.

  2. “How to give feedback” is a good topic because I often receive feedback from people in my life whom just shouldn’t be giving me advice. Not that I know more than them or anything like that but, to me, unsolicited advice about things I didn’t ask for help with is SO FRUSTRATING. I’ve gotten to the point with some folks where I don’t talk about anything I’m doing because I don’t want them to try to “help” me.
    I’ve had a big problem with negative feedback in the past too (both giving and receiving) so I can see both sides of it. It took me a lot of reflection and pushing my boundaries to get over my fear of saying anything online that someone somewhere might disagree with because even reading the first sentence of a comment which was obviously going to be condescending and rude shot my anxiety through the roof. These days I’m more or less okay with it. On the plus side that anxiety did get me over the bad habit of leaving nasty comments on other people’s content when I disagreed with them. So did quitting booze though. Lol

  3. This is such a good post. As a book reviewer, I give a lot of unwanted feedback and only recently have I started to look into how catty I sound in my negative reviews. I’ve been working on changing that. Thanks for this reminder 🙂

  4. Awesome tips! Giving and receiving positive feedback is so crucial in this day and age. For one, we thrive and feel validated by it. For another, we need it for the development of our self-esteem. We become better people when we are complimented for who we are and what we have done. It’s so important to advocate for this to help reduce Evil in the world.

  5. I’m with you about parents who never praise their children. ❤️hugs❤️ I find it difficult to deal with compliments or praise. I just feel people are being nice or kind but not for any genuine reason. I feel uncomfortable and ashamed that I’ve put them in that position where the feel they have to say something. It’s strange as I’m happy to praise others as I know how important it is for others.

    1. Thanks for your hugs<3 😀 I can feel love is in the air ❤ It's great that you enjoy praising others!<3 You're such an awesome person with a big heart ❤

  6. Im sorry you get negative feedback from your mom. Its definitely hard. My mom can be negative and will never takes accountability when she is wrong. Annoying for sure! Stay strong. Great post.

  7. Hey! Great post! This was encouraging to me and was helpful too! I’ve been getting feedback on my college essays recently and seeing this post was refreshing and made me feel positive about my work! Continue writing!

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