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8 Tips to Give Constructive Feedback at Work (with Scripts)

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Giving feedback is scary. It can be hard to deliver gracefully. And it could lead to conflict.

Though research suggests1 that embracing conflict in the workplace can boost team-building, spark innovative ideas, and improve critical thinking skills.

It’s worth learning how to give feedback well. It can make you feel closer to your team, improve your work culture, and make things more efficient.

In this article, we’ll go through the 8 critical steps (for managers and employees) to deliver feedback in a way that the other person can receive. 

You’ll be a feedback pro in no time!

Feedback Shortcut Steps

If you need a quick script to give feedback, try this:

  • Ask ahead of time to plan a meeting to give feedback
  • Start by sharing a genuine appreciation for the other person
  • Talk factually about the situation
  • Share how it impacted you or the team
  • Empathize with them
  • Brainstorm solutions together

Here’s an example script:

“Hi Tammy, I have some feedback I want to go over together with you. Do you have a few minutes later today to connect?…

First, I want to appreciate all the effort you put into the project. You did a very thoughtful job, and it didn’t go unnoticed… 

I just want to talk about how you turned the project in 3 days after the deadline…

It caused a backlog and some stress for other team members and might impact how our client views us… 

I understand you had a lot on your plate and put in a lot of extra time. 

And I’m wondering what gave rise to the late delivery and if we can brainstorm solutions together. What do you think?”

Now, let’s go over the steps in a bit more detail.

Get Clear on Your Feedback Ahead of Time

Before stepping into the feedback conversation, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of why you’re giving it. Is it because an action had an unpleasant impact on the team? Or have you noticed a potential area for improvement that could propel someone’s career forward? 

Once you’ve reflected on the “why” behind your feedback, it is also helpful to practice what you are going to say. Doing a trial run can help clarify your thoughts and uncover any hidden feelings you weren’t aware of.  

Action Step 1: Reflect on why you want to give this feedback. It might be one of the following:

  • You’ve noticed a way they could perform better
  • Their actions are impacting you negatively
  • There is a relational conflict to clear
  • You’ve spotted a professional development opportunity for them
  • They made a mistake on a project

Action Step 2: Practice saying everything you want to say without a filter before having the actual conversation.

Don’t Sit on It

The timelier the feedback, the better. This group of researchers2 found that it’s better to share your feedback as soon after the incident as possible.

If you wait too long, the specific event might become hazy and hard to refer to. 

A prompt approach also helps prevent the recurrence of undesirable behaviors or performance issues, leading to quicker adjustments and improvements. 

And as a manager, timely feedback shows your employees that their work is being noticed and valued in real-time.

Action Step: Do you have feedback to give but are waiting for the right time? Consider sending an email right now to the other party asking if they have some time to chat tomorrow.

Create Safety Around the Feedback

Creating a safe and supportive atmosphere for feedback is not just about what you say but also how and where you say it. 

The safer the environment you can create around your feedback, the more likely it is to land and the less likely the other person is to get triggered.

Creating a safe environment comes down to three main factors:

  1. Give a heads-up. If someone is caught off guard by feedback, they might not be in the right headspace to receive it. A preemptive approach removes the element of surprise and lets them mentally prepare for the conversation. 
  2. Privacy. A private space ensures confidentiality and shows respect for their feelings, making the experience less intimidating. 
  3. Time spaciousness. A rushed feedback session can feel dismissive, bring forth an unnecessary air of time stress, and might not give enough space for a meaningful conversation.

Scripts to Use:

  • “I would love to sit down and review last year’s goals together. When is a good time for you?”
  • “Now that we’re done with the project, I was wondering if you’d like to meet for a post-mortem to share reflections.”
  • “Something came up in the meeting the other day that I want to share with you. Do you have time for a short meeting this week?”

Pro Tip: If you have feedback to give, there are two ways to give a heads up and brace the other person. 

  1. Plan a time. One route is to plan a meeting around the feedback. For example, you could send an email that says, “Hey Jim, I have some feedback I’d like to share with you, and I was wondering if you’d be open to meeting tomorrow to talk about it?” 
  2. Get their consent. Or if you’re already in a meeting and you notice you have some real-time feedback to give at the moment, you could say, “I just realized I actually have a piece of feedback I’d like to share with you. Are you open to hearing it right now?”

Now that the stage is set, the next steps will help you conduct the actual conversation. Consider that most conversations aren’t linear, and you might cycle between each of the following steps multiple times.

Factually Describe the Situation

When giving feedback, it’s helpful to anchor your points in specific examples and concrete descriptions of what happened. When you start with the facts, you aren’t blaming or accusing. You’re both just getting on the same page of what happened.

For instance, instead of saying, “You’re always late to meetings,” you could say, “I noticed you arrived 15 minutes late to the last three team meetings.” 

Starting with what factually happened makes the feedback less personal and more about the behavior that needs addressing. 

Focusing on the specific behavior allows the recipient to see the specific issue without feeling attacked, making it easier for them to accept and work on the feedback. 

Pro Tip: When sharing your feedback, can you describe the event as an event in a textbook? 

  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • What exactly happened?

Scripts to Use:

  • “I wanted to talk about the moment at the meeting today when you said there wasn’t time for me to share my report.”
  • “I wanted to address the project you turned in 3 days after the agreed-upon deadline.”
  • “I wanted to talk about the moment that you and Sam got into a conflict in front of the client.”

Share Impact

This step involves clearly articulating how their actions affected you, the team, or the project. 

Script to Use:

  • “When I didn’t get to present my report, I felt disappointed because I put so much time into it.”
  • “By missing the deadline, the team had to work overtime, which affected everyone’s work-life balance.” 
  • “When you got into the conflict, it might have caused the client to lose trust in us, which could affect our partnership with them in the future.”

Highlighting these impacts helps the recipient understand the broader implications of their actions and why this is an important conversation to have.

Plus, by connecting individual actions to larger outcomes, feedback becomes more meaningful. It can encourage employees to see their work in the context of the collective success and challenges of the team. 

Pro Tip: When giving the feedback, share any of the following impacts that are relevant:

  • How their behavior impacted you

E.g., “When you dismissed my idea in the meeting, I felt dejected.”

  • How their behavior impacted the team

E.g., “When you didn’t get your task done, the rest of the team had to work extra hours.”

  • How their behavior impacted the project 

E.g., “When you missed the milestone, the project was late, and it hurt our reputation in the customer’s eyes.”

While constructive feedback is helpful, also remember to share positive feedback! Studies suggest3 that when work stress is high, giving positive feedback to coworkers can help them access more creativity.

Understand Their Experience

Once you’ve shared your part, it’s time to listen, understand, and empathize.

They might become defensive, feel the need to explain themself or shut down. But the more you can empathize with their experience, the more they’ll feel understood and be open to seeking change together.  

This type of listening not only provides valuable insights into their thought processes and potential obstacles but also signals that you care about their experience. 

Scripts to Use:

Try asking one of the following questions at some point after giving your feedback:

  • “How is this all landing?”
  • “What was the experience like from your perspective?”
  • “What would be helpful for me to know to better understand your experience of the situation?”

Brainstorm Solutions Together

This approach has you get on the same team as the other person and look at the situation together. It makes it less Blamey and more collaborative.

For example, after highlighting an area for improvement, you could ask, “What are your thoughts on how we can tackle this issue?” 

Questions like this invite the other person to be an active participant in their own development process. 

This approach can also strengthen the relationship between the feedback giver and the receiver of the feedback. It shifts the dynamic from being hierarchical to being partnership-oriented, where both parties are invested in finding the best path forward.

Script to Use:

At some point in the open dialogue, ask the question: “Do you want to brainstorm some possible solutions together?”.


Following up is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of the feedback process. Instead of providing feedback and moving on, it can be helpful to touch back to make sure the feedback leads to tangible improvement. 

Following up could mean scheduling a future meeting to revisit the conversation, or it might involve checking in informally to see how they’re doing with the action plan. 

Staying in touch with the issue also shows that you are genuinely invested in their development.

As a manager, it provides an opportunity to acknowledge progress and adjust strategies if needed. Maybe you’re both aware of the issue, but their first attempt to improve didn’t shift anything. You can revisit it together and keep brainstorming.

Keeping a pulse on the feedback item also creates accountability. So, feedback isn’t a sporadic, isolated conversation but something integrated into your relationship with this person.  

Action Step: Put an event in your calendar for two weeks after your feedback conversation to check in (formally or informally) with the other person to see how it’s going.

Giving good feedback is a critical professional skill. Though there are some other key skills to add to your professional toolkit. If you’re interested in learning how to boost your professional trajectory, you might be interested in this free training:

Ready to start planning your professional development?

Use our free worksheet to get started on your Professional Development Plan.

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6 Bonus Tips For Leadership to Create a Feedback Culture 

Feedback is way easier to give if your company culture has feedback baked into it. If it doesn’t, then every time you try to offer feedback to someone, it might come off as a surprise or feel unwanted.

Plus, consider that 70% of the differences4 in employee engagement at work are related to the behaviors of their manager. Your actions have a huge impact. Creating an open and transparent work culture can help your team feel more engaged and happy at work. 

If you’re a manager or company leader and want to create a feedback culture at your company, consider the following tips.

  1. Actively give feedback in every 1-on-1 (both positive and constructive)

Every time you have a 1-on-1 with someone on your team, make a point to share:

  • An appreciation, celebration, praise, or acknowledgment of them (studies show5 that sharing appreciation for someone makes them feel more valued)
  • An opportunity for growth

You could also try the classic feedback sandwich, where you have a positive type of feedback for the buns and a constructive kind of feedback for the filling.

  1. Actively ask for feedback in every 1-on-1

If you’re the only one who gives feedback, this alone won’t create a feedback culture. You also have to help the rest of your team feel comfortable giving feedback.

One great way to do this is to have them practice on you.

In every 1-on-1, consider asking one of the following questions:

  • What have you appreciated about my management since we last talked?
  • What could I do better as a manager?
  • If you had my job, what would you do differently?

It’s much better to ask directive questions like this instead of asking, “Do you have any feedback?” Because with a question like that, they might just say “no.”

Remember, you are creating an opportunity for them to practice giving feedback. So even if they don’t have any big, obvious feedback to give, sharing any feedback (even small stuff!) is a helpful practice.

  1. Set up anonymous feedback mechanisms.

Another way to integrate feedback into your company culture is to develop a system for anonymous feedback.

This could be slips of paper that people put into a shoebox, or it could be entries from a Google Form.

  1. Create reward systems for people who give feedback 

Humans are motivated by rewards6

If you acknowledge or reward employees for giving feedback to you, to the team, or to each other, then you are making a loud statement that “We want you to give feedback!!!” and it will likely encourage the behavior.

  1. Set up a training session on constructive feedback

You could also consider bringing in a third party to lead feedback training sessions.

This creates a safe practice ground for everyone to try out giving feedback and cultivating the skill set of giving and receiving.

  1. Create safe spaces for open communication.

One last idea is to create open forum spaces where people can talk openly about work, the company, and management. It might be best if you don’t join these meetings, to give the employees an experience of greater freedom for what they can share.

This can help promote a culture of honesty that will permeate all aspects of company culture.

FAQs on How to Give Feedback

How to give negative feedback in a positive way examples?

To give negative feedback in a positive way, focus on specific behaviors rather than personal traits. For example, say, “I noticed your reports have had several errors recently; let’s look at ways to improve their accuracy.” Also, orient toward solutions and possibilities.

How to give positive feedback?

When giving positive feedback, be specific about what actions you appreciate. For example, “Your presentation was very well-researched, and it clearly communicated our project goals.” Also, consider appreciating a quality or character attribute of the other person, like their kindness, courage, or articulateness. If you can, describe how their action contributed to a company or personal goal.

How to give negative feedback to your boss examples?

Giving negative feedback to your boss requires tact and focus on the issue. It can be trickier than giving feedback to colleagues or peers. You might say, “I’ve observed that our team meetings often run over the scheduled time, which might impact our productivity; perhaps we could try a more structured agenda?”

Here’s a comprehensive article on how to give feedback to your boss.

How to give and receive feedback?

To give and receive feedback effectively, it’s important to be clear, specific, and empathetic. When receiving feedback, listen actively, consider the points raised, and discuss ways to implement the suggestions.

Takeaways on How to Give Feedback

Best of luck in giving your feedback! Just remember the following tips:

  • Get clear on your feedback ahead of time: Understanding why you’re giving feedback is crucial for a focused and effective conversation.
  • Don’t sit on it: Provide feedback promptly.
  • Create safety around the feedback: Give them a heads up beforehand, meet somewhere private, and give the meeting enough time.
  • Factually describe the situation: Starting with factual descriptions of events makes feedback less personal and more about specific behaviors.
  • Share impact: Share how their actions impacted you, the team, or the project.
  • Understand their experience: Listen, empathize, and strive to understand. This makes it more collaborative and makes them less likely to get triggered.
  • Brainstorm solutions together: Collaborating on solutions makes the feedback process less about blame and more about partnership and improvement.
  • Follow up: Circle back in two weeks to see how it’s going.

Giving feedback to someone in your organization is considered “internal feedback.” If you’re also interested in “external feedback” or getting feedback from people outside of your organization, then you might be interested in this article.

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