Giving [good] feedback

– not yet another formula –

There is much discussion around how to deliver feedback. Some talk about the sandwich approach, others believe in going straight to the point, and a few dress cruelty up as honesty and have lots of fun making mean comments on other people’s work or performance.

When somebody is receiving feedback, they likely feel vulnerable, unsure of how well they performed. Of course there are exceptions to every rule and some people might believe themselves above feedback and beyond reproach.

Assuming you are giving feedback to the former, not the latter, it is a good idea to keep that person’s feelings in mind. Being empathetic is always a good policy in my books. But it doesn’t mean there’s poetic license to flout the truth. I guess good feedback lies in the intersection of honesty and empathy.


For any kind of feedback to be effective, it has to be clear. When things need improving, well, there is no sugarcoating that: they need to be improved. On the other hand, it is also important to acknowledge the positive points and offer support and encouragement.

As someone who appreciates receiving feedback, I can say that clarity is essential. Always make sure to pinpoint exactly what needs improvement, how it can be achieved and why it is needed.

Giving feedback doesn’t necessarily require a magic formula. It just needs three ingredients:

  empathy     honesty           clarity

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