The Positive Side to Negative Feedback


When you’re a leader, feedback is a vital part of working with other people – and a way to gain the best from your team. When the feedback is positive, it can be so easy. But when negative, it could be a challenge. But feedback doesn’t always have to be seen as negative – think of it as constructive feedback.

When the time comes to talk to one of our team, how can we ensure that we’re reframing something they might perceive as a negative, into feedback that is going to be constructive in helping them build their skills – allowing them space to rise, instead of sinking further – providing them an opportunity for professional development.

It’s all about reframing the way you present your feedback, and making it useful to person on the receiving end.


Whether you are a new leader, or are more versed in leading teams – giving candid feedback could be uncomfortable for some. In order to attain the results needed, there is a definite need for feedback. It may be surprising, but studies show that honest, straightforward feedback is exactly what a majority of employees want.

 In an assessment by Harvard Business Review, it showed that employee attitudes toward ‘positive’ and “corrective’ feedback revealed 57% preferred receiving this feedback. Even more so, 92% believed that ‘negative’ feedback was effective in improving performance.



Performance reviews are a great time to give constructive feedback. However, having a more informal one-on-one with a team member is a great way to show you care about their professional development.

 By sitting down informally, this gives the both the chance to have a more personable and friendly conversation. It opens up the floor for honesty, and promotes a two-way-street, allowing space to come up with effective steps toward making progress, together.



Using the correct tone when giving feedback is important in how it will be received effectively. Don’t get personal, or emotional. All feedback must be balanced, and leading the conversation with something positive is a great segway into an area that needs improving on – both are important as one another. Ensure your positive feedback is sincere, avoiding negative tones such as ‘but’, ‘however’, and ‘although.’

Once you’ve delivered something positive, it’s time to be clear and specific. Think actionable feedback and examples that are specific. Instead of saying something like ‘you always forget to update clients on important details’ think about reframing it with something actionable, like ‘I’ve noticed that when speaking with clients you sometimes miss the opportunity to tell them about…’ 

We must remember that our end result is for our team member to go away with a ‘growth mindset’ rather than a ‘fixed’ one. This is the first step to achieving what you want after you’ve given feedback.