Home Insights & Advice What makes feedback constructive and not criticism? Tips on top give constructive feedback

What makes feedback constructive and not criticism? Tips on top give constructive feedback

by John Saunders
14th Sep 21 6:14 pm

There is no doubt about the importance of feedback to employees, managers, supervisors, team leaders, and the organization at large. It helps to enhance development, clarify expectations and helps employees to learn from their mistakes.

However, feedback is not just feedback. Feedback must be constructive to have the desired positive effect on the workplace and employees. Feedback can be equivalent to criticism if it is not constructive. A lot of people mistake criticism for feedback. In order to avoid this grave mistake that could have negative effects on the organization and its employees, we would be highlighting the differences between criticism and constructive feedback and also give you vital tips on how to give constructive feedback.

Overview of criticism

Although people view criticism differently, criticism is generally regarded as negative. It has a deflating effect on its recipients and it could demotivate them, demoralize them and even make them rebellious.

Criticism consists of harsh words that make it difficult for recipients to focus on what they could do better, learn from their mistakes, and make better and informed decisions in the future. Criticism robs people of motivation and could deflate their self-esteem. It also makes them unable to identify their strength and weaknesses.

Overview of constructive feedback

Unlike criticism, constructive feedback serves as a basis for employer improvement and better workplace culture and relationships. One of the biggest tools a manager can use to drive growth in an organization is constructive feedback. When proper feedback is given, it can promote more positive behavior, address all negative performance, and foster w strong workplace culture in the organization.

Constructive feedback comprises carefully chosen words that reflect the true situation of things, without sounding harsh or sugar-coating things. In order words, it is giving information on a prior task or information without condescending. This type of feedback is known as 360 feedback.

Effective tips on how to give constructive feedback

The primary reason some managers are scared of giving constructive feedback is that they fear it might be interpreted by the employees as negative feedback or judged as harsh criticism. Learning how to give constructive is key to having your employees fully understand you and not mistake your feedback as negative or as a criticism. The following are vital tips to help you give constructive feedback.

Constructive feedback is one of the best things managers can provide to their employees. When delivered properly it can, reinforce positive behavior, correct any negative performance and ensure a strong culture remains in your team.

Give it soon after you witness the event or behavior

It’s pointless to wait for several weeks or days before giving feedback about an event, incident, task, or project. Give it as you can but ensure it doesn’t take too long. Providing feedback can be based on the severity of the issue or the level of the task. If it can wait till your weekly meeting, they give the feedback at the meeting. However, if the issue or behavior is severe and is better addressed immediately, give feedback immediately. Ensure you are well-prepared before giving the feedback so you can sound articulate, solid, and straightforward. Apply the same logic to positive appraisal as well, and give your feedback frequently.

Give feedback at the right time and place

Before providing feedback, ensure that you choose the right time and place. Sometimes you need to schedule a formal meeting, or you could just talk in the tearoom or invite them for a talk in your office. Wherever, you choose to give the feedback, ensure it’s a private place where you can be as honest as possible without worrying about the influence of others.

There are several other ways in which you can give constructive feedback. They are:

  • Be specific in your feedback and use examples to buttress your point. Do give vague or ambiguous feedback. Explain what you feel in clear terms.
  • Don’t use negative language for any reason. Don’t tell your employees off or use foul language. Do use command tones as well. Use a friendly tone and subtle pleas instead of outright orders.
  • The use of negative language is vital to constructive criticism. Positive language works wonders on our brain by stimulating it and opening us to new ways of learning.


Giving constructive feedback is a great tool to enhance your team. But learning how to give constructive feedback is another thing entirely. Once you master the art of giving constructive feedback, you’ll be able to unlock the potential of your employees and enhance the growth of the organization as well.

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