Published: 02nd January 2021
The art of giving positive feedback: How to use words like 'Well done', 'Great job' and more
Positive feedback is given to someone who has accomplished something or has tasted success. Whether a person gives positive or negative feedback, they should be constructive in their approach
It is easy to praise someone using beautiful words and phrases but it is not easy to give constructive criticism. The word ‘criticism’ has a negative connotation. The moment we think of criticism, the following words and phrases come to our mind: mistake, error, fault, accusation, personal attack and character assassination.
The word ‘feedback’, however, is a neutral word. When we give constructive feedback to someone, we use positive language and the outcome is positive. It is done not with the intention of discouraging or hurting the person but to encourage and motivate the person to do better. Knowing how to give constructive feedback is an art that everyone should master.
What are the characteristics of good feedback? The person who gives constructive feedback focuses on the construction and not on destruction. It focuses on issues and not on persons. Therefore, there is no room for personal assault or value judgment about individuals.
At times, those in managerial positions avoid giving negative feedback as it is quite an unpleasant task. But it is important for managers to provide their team with negative feedback in a positive manner. Here are words of wisdom from a thirteenth-century Sufi: “Before you speak, let your words pass through these three gates: At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’ At the second gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it necessary?’ At the third gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it kind?’”
Positive feedback is given to someone who has accomplished something or has tasted success. Here are some useful expressions for giving positive feedback:
• Well done!
• I like it!/I love it!
• Great job!/Good job!
• That’s it!/That’s nice!
Encouraging feedback is given to someone who has shown some improvement or is on the right track. The purpose of giving such feedback is to help the person achieve their goal. Here are some useful expressions for giving encouraging feedback:
• Great! Keep trying!
• Good progress! Go ahead!
• Proud of you!
• Keep up the good work!
Whether a person gives positive or negative feedback, they should be constructive in their approach. If the giver of feedback puts it nicely, it will have a positive impact on the receiver. While giving negative feedback, instead of saying “You made a mistake”, “You’re wrong” or “That’s not acceptable”, the following expressions can be used:
• You tried but couldn’t complete it. Try again.
• You should try it again.
• You were almost right. Give it another go. You can do it.
• I’m afraid that’s not right. Give it another shot.
With no positivity, there is no hope; with no negativity, there is no improvement.
— Criss Jami