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practical ideas about giving and receiving feedback

Description of the tool

To prevent conflicts and cultivate a good atmosphere working with people it is essential to be able to receive and to offer feedback. Giving and receiving feedback keeps you in contact with the others and gives you the opportunity to adjust your behaviour according to other peoples reactions.

Now, what is feedback? Just to give a wider view, this is a definition, what feedback means in cybernetics:

“Feedback is a process whereby some proportion or in general, function, of the output signal of a system is passed (fed back) to the input. Often this is done intentionally, in order to control the dynamic behaviour of the system”. (25.01.2006)

Feedback in interpersonal communication means that you give a person a description on how you feel about the persons certain behaviour and describe it without any judgement. You can feel good, or you can feel bad about the person’s behaviour, so it does not mean you have to tell only bad things. Positive feedback is just as important.

It is important to choose the right moment for feedback. It should not be too long after the situation you would like to give feedback on, but at the same time you have to make sure the person can concentrate on what you are saying and is not busy doing something else. First you offer feedback: “Would you like to receive feedback on this and that?” The person could reject your offer, or could ask to postpone it for a more suitable moment.

There are few rules you have to keep in mind, if you give feedback. Instead of starting with “You are always … “, to put your emotions in the following pattern:

Start your sentence with “I”.
Tell the person how you feel about their behaviour (I felt upset, when you…)
Do not judge, but try instead to describe the person’s behaviour as neutral as possible: “You were speaking very fast and loud and it made me feel...”
Tell her/him, what you need in future (I would be grateful, if you could let me speak out without interrupting me).

Receiving feedback could be sometimes far more difficult than offering it. Even if you develop an ability to offer people feedback in a sensitive manner, you might not receive the same from your mates. What can you do, if you are being yelled at or insulted as a result of someone’s feedback to you?

If you are being confronted with a constructive feedback, thank the person for it – it is a resource, on which you can grow as a person, reflecting upon your own “blind spots”.

If the feedback you receive is rather destructive, for example you are being shouted at and accused, it is crucial that you respond to the person in a way which does not make things worse. Sometimes it can be useful to ask to postpone the conversation. It can be that the person calms down and is then able to tell you about his/her concerns regarding your behaviour.
There could be several reasons, why you get feedback: either your behaviour affected someone in a positive or negative manner, or the person talking to you projects his/her own issues on you, and they do not have anything to do with your actions.

In any case it is always worthwhile to deal with the feedback you get however it is presented to you and to look for the kernel of truth in it.

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Tool overview

This tool is for


and addresses

Social Inclusion, Project Management, Networking and Follow-up, Intercultural Learning, Personal Development, Conflict Management, Organisational Management, Peer education

Materials needed:




Behind the tool

The tool was created by


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The tool was published to the Toolbox by

Evelina Taunyte (on 2 March 2006)

and last modified

17 December 2008

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