Feedback is one of the most powerful tools in communication. It allows us to express our honest opinion of somebody else’s behaviour; wherever it is necessary. In work related situations, it may be necessary for us to provide feedback. If we have a degree of responsibility for another person’s personal and professional development, we will certainly have to provide feedback; if we want to discharge our responsibilities effectively. In fact, whether planned or spontaneous, we all provide feedback, several times each day. There is one major problem that I have with feedback though; it is overwhelmingly negative.

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The ability to deliver both positive and constructive feedback is an essential component of asserrtiveness.

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The 2 main types of feedback

There are many different feedback techniques but the two most common are constructive feedback and positive feedback. On a daily basis, there will be ample opportunity to use both. Below, is a brief overview of each.

1. Constructive feedback

Constructive feedback is intended to be used when another person has done something wrong. The intention is to approach the issue in a clear manner and; through positive and constructive dialogue; encourage the person to make the necessary changes to ensure that they perform better in future.

One of the key components of constructive feedback is that it is inclusive. While you must insist on some form of behaviour change; the other person is included in the process of identifying the best way forward.

While constructive feedback is intended to be a more positive form of feedback, and it is; it can still be easy for the other person to feel that you are being negative; especially if it is the only form of feedback that you use.

You will find a more comprehensive guide to constructive feedback here.

Correction does much but encouragement does more - Von Goethe

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2. Positive feedback

Positive feedback is intended for use whenever you see somebody performing or behaving in a manner which you agree with and, would like to see more of. The hope is that by providing the positive feedback, the other person realises what is expected of them and; seeks to repeat the behaviour.

When used properly, positive feedback is incredibly powerful, despite Its simplicity. Positive feedback can often be delivered in couple of minutes. However, perhaps due to Its simplicity, positive feedback is often overlooked and forgotten.

A good leader or manager will use positive feedback far more frequently than they use constructive feedback. Encouragement does more for encouraging improved performance and collaboration than pointing out faults ever will. Of course, constructive feedback should be used where necessary but it will be far more effective if the other person doesn’t feel that the only time you talk to them is to complain. So, seek first to provide encouragement via positive feedback.

You will find a more comprehensive guide to positive feedback here.

If you would like to improve your communication skills, check out How to Talk So Others Will Listen.


Feedback is not intended to be so negative but for most of us, we tend to be more inclined to speak of someone’s behaviour when we find it to be unacceptable; rather than speak up when they do something right. This is getting the balance wrong. If the other person does something wrong; we certainly need to address the issue so that corrective action can be taken. But we can avoid a great deal of constructive feedback by being positive and acknowledging excellent behaviour or performance, whenever we see it. If we provide the acknowledgement in the right manner, the other person is going to want to repeat the behaviour. After all, who doesn’t enjoy being praised. Correction does a great deal for shaping personal and professional behaviour but even more can be achieved and, in a far more enjoyable manner; by simply practicing positive feedback on a consistent basis.


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