In every day or professional life, there can be many opportunities to provide feedback, whether it’s from a manager to a team member or the reverse. It could also be to a colleague, a customer or even a friend. However, it’s a challenging and difficult task, mastering it is a true art. Without understanding the best practices, there’s a risk of achieving counterproductive results.

It is possible to divide them into two types: positive and constructive criticism. Positive feedback is frequently forgotten, yet it’s simple to give, it requires only a moment. Below are two sentences to illustrate this:

  • Congratulations on the creative solution you provided for the project! It was truly impressive!
  • Great job on your product launch presentation!

The cost is minimal, but the positive impact is high. Consider providing it publicly if possible to enhance its effect.

As the second category, constructive criticism, tends to be the most challenging, we will focus on best practices within the article to address them. At the end, methods for receiving this type of critique will be explored.


A Tale of Winter (1992), by Eric Rohmer, who likes to capture the nuances of human interaction


The content is fundamental. Careful crafting is essential. Let’s consider the following scenario : you are in a managerial position and a member of your team is facing challenges meeting project deadlines. Here’s a potential example to share :

You have difficulties meeting deadlines, this is not acceptable. You need to learn to manage your time better.

Although this holds a valid message, it lacks helpful elements and doesn’t encourage improvement. Now the question we can ask ourselves is how can we do better ?

The idea involves using a framework in order to facilitate the process. My favorite is the DESC for describing the facts, expressing your feelings about those facts, specifying actions to solve the problem, and explaining the consequences for solving the problem. Sharon Anthony and Gordon Bower developed this framework.

Now let’s rephrase using this!

Refining Content

Before using this template, I prefer to include a positive statement. It’s not mandatory, but it serves as a good introduction.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication you bring to our team. Your attention to detail and commitment to achieving high standards are admirable qualities that contribute positively to our projects.

The initial phase is often the same across various models which involves describing the facts. It’s important to maintain objectivity and avoid exaggeration while presenting the facts, and offering a real example can be helpful.

And you’re missing an element to improve, indeed I’ve observed a pattern of missed deadlines within our recent projects. The last two reports were submitted after the scheduled deadline, leading to a slowdown in the project’s progression.

Then express your emotions or sentiments regardings these facts.

As a manager, it’s important to ensure a smooth workflow and timely delivery to achieve our goals, and these missed deadlines make me concerned about our ability to maintain that standard.

Afterward, it’s essential to specify one or several actions to prevent the described situation from happening again; these actions must be clearly achievable and realistic.

Let’s work together to effectively navigate these challenges and maintain our project deadlines. First of all, I suggest that you divide tasks into smaller components to gain better visibility of external dependencies that might affect the project. Don’t hesitate to take the initiative to identify and communicate any potential obstacles. Additionally, for more complex project phases, request sessions with senior team members to receive advice and assistance.

Finally, to conclude the discussion, verbalize the positive consequences from following the advice.

I believe these actions will not only improve our project outcomes and team capabilities but also your efficiency and proactive problem-solving skills.

Criticism Ratio

While acknowledging the significance of both positive comment and constructive criticism, determining the optimal balance between them poses a challenge. Various studies have explored this subject, particularly Marcial Losada’s The critical positivity ratio proposing a 6:1 ratio for high-performing teams (6 positive comments for 1 focused on improvement). Objections regarding the calculation method of this ratio have been raised. Nonetheless, the value of providing positive statements rather than negative ones remains widely recognized.

Excessive criticism can undermine confidence in one’s abilities. If a majority of comments tend to be negative, they might cancel the effects of positive ones. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them, as it’s valuable. It’s crucial to use it carefully by using models like the DESC and keep an eye on the ratio to have a higher number of positive statements.


When providing both positive and area of improvement it’s essential to offer it relatively soon after the event occurs. As Chris Williams, former vice president of human resources at Microsoft says You should never let more than one sunset pass before giving your feedback. For instance, if there’s an issue that arises during a meeting, it’s recommended to address it with the person involved no later than the following day. We should talk about the meeting and what happened yesterday. If you wait too long before intervening, there’s a risk that the person involved will forget the event. Additionally, the perception of the meeting may become distorted over time. Moreover, while reactivity matters, it’s equally important to find a balance by refraining from moving too quickly, particularly in emotionally charged situations. Delivered too quickly, it can carry an excess of emotion and lack of practical value.

Follow up

When it comes to follow-up, practice patience is mandatory. Grant the individual sufficient time to reflect and incorporate the necessary adjustments into their approach. If you notice the expected changes haven’t occurred after some time, schedule periodic check-ins to assess progress and offer encouragement that fortifies the commitment to change and demonstrate continuous support. Sometimes, individuals might encounter obstacles or require additional guidance in implementing the information effectively. In such cases, offering support or providing resources to assist in the process is immensely helpful. Lastly, after the successful implementation of changes, showing appreciation and acknowledging efforts enhances positive behavior. Closing the loop offers closure and encourages ongoing growth and development.

Learn to receive

Now, we will explore how to receive feedback. Actively and attentively listening to the entirety without interruptions is crucial for fully understanding the perspectives being shared. Equally important is refraining from the urge to justify oneself, as the primary objective is to collect valuable insights rather than engage in a debate. Additionally, it’s imperative not only to recognize but also to express a sincere commitment to resolving the highlighted issues. This approach cultivates an atmosphere where individuals feel recognized and valued, encouraging regular exchange of ideas. Emphasizing constructive exchanges that go both ways play a significant role into continuous improvement and achieving optimal performance levels.

In summary, we have seen essential elements such as the distribution of positive feedback and areas of improvement. The importance of using the appropriate content, maintaining a balance between positive and area of improvement, taking into account the timeline, ensuring complete follow-up and closure. Also welcoming feedback as an opportunity for personal and professional development. Now, it’s time to make a transition from understanding to implementation. By practicing and refining these fundamental elements, we can enhance not only our capacity to provide constructive criticism but also nurture a culture of growth and improvement within our professional and personal life.