Active/Collaborative Learning Student Teams Integrating Technology Effectively Women and Minorities Assessment and Evaluation EC2000 Emerging Technology Foundation Coalition Curricula Concept Inventories
Easy-to-Remember Guide to Constructive Feedback


The Team Handbook, Peter R. Scholtes and others, Joiner Publishing, 1988

Sequence Explanation
1. "When you..." Start with a "When you..." statement that describes the behavior without judgment, exaggeration, labeling, attribution, or motives. Just state the facts as specifically as possible.
2. "I feel..." Tell how their behavior affects you. If you need more than a word or two to describe the feeling, it's probably just some variation of joy, sorrow, anger, or fear.
3. "Because I..." Now say the way you are affected that way. Describe the connection between the facts you observed and the feelings they provoke in you.
4. Pause for discussion Let the other person respond.
5. "I would like..." Describe the change you want the other person to consider.
6. "Because..." ...and why you think the change will alleviate the problem.
7. "What do you think?" Listen to the other person's response. Be prepared to discuss options and compromise on a solution.


"When you are late for meetings, I get angry because I think it wastes the time of all other team members and we are never able to get through our agenda items. I would like you to find some way of planning your schedule that lets you get to these meetings on time. That way we can be more productive at the meetings and we can all keep to our tight schedules."


Acknowledge the need for feedback

  • Feedback is vital to any organization committed to improving itself.
  • Feedback skills will help you communicate effectively, improve your team meetings, and improve interactions with team members and others.

Give both positive and negative feedback

  • People will more likely pay attention to your complaints if they have also received your compliments

Know when to give feedback

  • Consider more than your own need to give feedback.
  • Constructive feedback happens only within a context of listening to and caring about the person.
  • Do not give feedback when:
    • You do not know much about the circumstances of the behavior.
    • The feedback is about something the person has no power to change.
    • The other person seems low in self-esteem.
    • The time, place, or circumstances are inappropriate.

Know how to give feedback

  • Be descriptive
    • Be objective and give specific, recent examples.
  • Don't use labels
    • Be clear, specific, and unambiguous.
    • Describe the behavior and drop the labels.
  • Don't exaggerate
    • Be exact.
    • The receiver will argue with the exaggeration rather than the real issue.
  • Don't be judgmental
    • Don't use words like "good," "better," "worse."
    • This invites the receiver to respond as a child since you are using the words of a controlling parent.
  • Speak for yourself
    • Don't refer to absent, anonymous people.
    • Encourage others to speak for themselves.
  • Talk first about yourself, not about the other person
    • Say, "I appreciate your coming to meetings on time," not "You are very prompt for meetings."
    • This creates a peer relationship, not a ranked relationship
  • Phrase the issue as a statement, not as a question
    • Questioning can be controlling and manipulative.
  • Restrict your feedback to things you know for certain
    • Don't present opinions as facts.
  • Help people hear and accept your compliments when giving positive feedback

Know how to receive feedback

  • Listen carefully
  • Ask questions for clarity
  • Acknowledge the feedback
  • Acknowledge valid points
  • Take time to sort out what you heard


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