The Best Approach When Giving and Receiving Feedback

A boss giving feedback to an employee

Recognizing the need to gather feedback from employees, peers, and customers is your first step to improving communications. The most important thing you can do is be approachable. If someone offers feedback, he or she is doing so for a reason.
Do not assume what the person will say. Listen carefully and focus on what is being said. Do not get defensive or interrupt. Be mindful of your responses and watch your body language; both will tell the other person if you are genuinely interested or tuning out.
Again, be receptive and practice active-listening techniques to show you understand what is being said. For example, repeat back what you have heard. It is also a good practice to pause five seconds before responding so you can gather your thoughts before speaking, especially if you disagree. Thank the person for his or her feedback and seek out a second opinion. Remember, you do not have to act on this feedback right away. Think on it and decide how best to respond. 
Considering the response above, picture yourself in the other person’s shoes. Giving feedback can be just as hard as receiving it, and can damage a professional relationship if mishandled. Start by prioritizing your ideas. Do not try to cover a wide variety of issues; focus on those most important. Ask yourself whether the feedback you are providing is actionable. What are you expecting the receiver to do with your feedback? 
Next, ask the person if he or she is open to feedback. Rather than cornering and forcing your views on someone, politely ask for a moment to share your thoughts, ensuring the other person has the time to listen. He or she will appreciate your asking permission. With that said, be mindful of your body language and tone. Do not put the other person on the defensive, or the recipient will be more focused on your bad behavior than on what you are saying.

A good way to present feedback is the “sandwich approach.” Start by saying something positive about the other person’s performance to reinforce strengths. You can then transition to your feedback and how you think things could change. Be specific without being overly negative.

Afterwards, conclude your feedback with another compliment to end on a positive note. Next, stand back and give the person time and room to digest what you have said. Allow him or her to gather their thoughts. If a follow-up meeting is needed, ask for another opportunity to discuss the feedback further. 


  • Practice pausing five seconds after receiving feedback to gather your thoughts. 

  • Before providing feedback, prioritize your ideas and pick one area to address. 

  • When receiving feedback, face the person and practice active listening. 

  •  Before providing feedback, think of one positive trait to lead the conversation.


The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.

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This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.