This week we focus on negative or constructive feedback – “softening the blow,” as they say. 

You can skim this short blog or click the links to learn more!

Let’s do this….


You ASKED for it … One of the most common Qs that I receive is, “how can I effectively deliver negative or constructive feedback?” I briefly touched on this topic in the recent Q&A episode, but I know you want more.  So here goes!

(NOT the ideal body language for delivering feedback!)

I am so happy to learn that you Talk About Talk listeners are so empathetic.  You truly care about their employees and seek to provide them with feedback in the most effective and constructive way.


This focus on delivering negative feedback applies to other non-managerial contexts too, including:

  • Teachers & students
  • Personal contexts –  maybe you’re in a relationship with someone and there’s just something that they need to know…
  • Parenting context – we certainly have lots of feedback and course-correction to offer our children, right?!


I pulled together research and advice from  books by management and leadership gurus, as well as self help and managerial articles in Forbes, Fast Company, HBR and other online resources. My findings are summarized in a one-page checklist in the ShowNotes.  In this episode, you will learn:

  1. The ideal MINDSET for when we are planning and delivering feedback. We need to adopt a constructive mindset. Our mindset should be all about construction, as in building and creating. We want the employee to thrive and excel, right? Our sole intention is to help.
  2. The DO’s & DON’Ts of delivering feedback.  Some are obvious, some less-so.  (See below…)
  3. Four Feedback FRAMEWORKS to consider.  Three that I recommend, and one that I do not!!





  • Don’t make it a surpriseTell the person you hav some feedback for them and ensure they are mentally prepared.  No one should learn about an issue for the first time in a formal evaluation.  Start informal and undocumented, then escalate, if necessary, to formal and documented.

  • Don’t joke around – People laugh when they are nervous.  This is no laughing matter.

  • Don’t threaten the person!



  • Be empathetic.  For starters, compliment in public, criticize in private.

  • Be objective and professional.  According to a recent HBR article called The Feedback Fallacy, the research is clear:

    • Telling people what we think of their performance and how we think they should improve does not help and may hinder learning.
    • What we should be doing instead is giving them objective instructions. This is how they can succeed. So it’s not, here’s what I think. It’s more here is exactly what you need to do, like an instruction manual.
  • Listen. This one is often forgotten. We must listen.


This works for both goals and for feedback. Make sure that the feedback is specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic and timely.

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Double check that al feedback is (and is perceived as) both valid & important.  Valid as in undeniably true.  And Important and in important to the employee and important to the firm. 
 ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Avoid the poop sandwich, also called “the feedback sandwich.” You know, the good-bad-good model.
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Try the Start-Continue-Stop (or Traffic Light) framework. You’ve assessed their performance and identified things that they should start doing, things that they should continue doing, and things that they should stop doing – all things that will help them advance to the next level.

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(BTW, I don’t always agree with every quote I include in this blog.
My criteria is that it is relevant and thought-provoking…

I hope you enjoy this week’s podcast on GIVING NEGATIVE FEEDBACK

Did you have a chance to listen to last week’s podcast episode on amplifying our consumer voice? While this episode appeals to marketers and market researchers, other listeners appreciate guest expert Kathy Cheng’s passion for leveraging technology – including her penchant for WeChat and… chatbots! 

If you enjoy these free weekly blogs and podcasts, I encourage you to forward this email or send this link to your friends and colleagues who may also be interested in learning about how to become more a more effective and confident communicator.

(That reminds me, Siri makes a guest appearance at the end of this week’s episode…)

Please don’t hesitate to email me or post on social media anytime with FEEDBACK! YES!!!! I would love to hear your feedback on the blog and the podcast.  BRING IT ON!  Maybe in the form of “Start-Continue-Stop”?