Constructive Feedback – A positive approach to behaviour change

We have previously discussed the importance of expressing feelings, and encouraging repetition of desirable behaviour, using positive feedback. Sometimes the behaviour you witness is not the behaviour you wish to see. In these instances you could easily get angry and frustrated with the other person. But, this is only likely to result in friction and stress in the relationship; leading to a further dip in performance levels. Constructive feedback offers a stress-free approach to dealing with these situations. Rather than taking an aggressive approach to the situation; constructive feedback requires you to adopt a positive and assertive approach.

Yes, you do have to point out that something is wrong, and you have to insist that change occurs but it is important to respect the other party's dignity at all times. The best way to do this is by assuming that the other person is unaware that they have done something to upset you. This allows you to keep the feedback constructive i.e. focused on helping them to improve their performance.

Constructive feedback is easy to use. You just have to remember the what,  the why, and the how.

​Assertiveness Tactics Report

The ability to deliver constructive feedback is a key assertiveness tactic. You can learn more with my FREE Report - Assertiveness Tactics.


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What is the issue?

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​In order to fix a problem, one must first know the exact nature of the problem. It is important to be as specific as possible. If you have any doubt as to whether they will understand the specific nature of the problem, then you need to make your explanation even more specific. Remember, you are seeking behaviour change, not personality change. Therefore, you must focus on providing a descriptive, non-personalised, account of what has taken place.

Why is it an issue?

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​It may sound obvious but it is important to know why this is an issue for you. If you don't fully understand, how will the other person? Most people never set out with the intention of upsetting others. When they realise that their actions have caused a problem, they are usually more than happy to remedy the situation. So make sure you explain exactly how the issue is impacting you.

How do you move forward?

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Every issue needs a solution. Ensure that your feedback is constructive by agreeing on a remedy with the other party. It is usually best to allow the them to identify the best way forward as this helps them feel more involved. Involvement serves as motivation to implement the solution, as they will be the one who suggested it. However, in some cases it may be necessary for you to insist on a specific course of action.

So, now that you know the important aspects of constructive feedback; how do you deliver it?


6 Steps to delivering constructive feedback:

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  1. Clarify the issue and the reason it upsets you before you seek to deliver the feedback.
  2. Ask the other person for a moment of their time and ensure that you are in a location where privacy is guaranteed.
  3. Explain the issue and why it upsets you in a clear manner.
  4. Clarify their understanding of the issue.
  5. Inform them that you are not happy for things to continue as they are and ask them to suggest solutions.
  6. Agree on a suitable way forward. Only agree on a way forward if you genuinely believe that it will solve the issue.

Constructive feedback can take time. It is always important to follow-up after you have delivered the feedback. Allow the other person sufficient time to implement the agreed actions.  Should they fail to implement the agreed actions, you may choose to reinforce the feedback; implement disciplinary procedures; or, escalate the matter to a higher authority e.g. a more senior manager. The appropriate choice is a matter of context and conscience which must be determined on a case by case basis.

​Assertiveness Tactics Report

The ability to deliver constructive feedback is a key assertiveness tactic. You can learn more with my FREE Report - Assertiveness Tactics.


Get Your FREE Copy Here


When you learn to deliver constructive feedback, it helps you avoid many of the dangerous pitfalls of communication. For more great communication strategies, check out How to Talk So Others Will Listen.

Where constructive feedback is implemented it is important that this is recognised. Remember to use positive feedback and praise them when they display the desired behaviour.