Brené Brown, giving a TED talk. Source: Screengrab from

SmartCompany Plus

Give and take: The art of useful feedback

SmartCompany Plus
Managing, People
8 minute Read

How you communicate with your team is critical to how your team thinks, acts and performs. There are techniques to ensure the feedback you give, and take, is treated seriously, especially when delivering negative news.

This Expert’s Playbook features input from successful managers, cognitive psychologists, founders, and professors, explaining how feedback is received, and how it should be given.

“Feedback is not one-size-fits-all. Everybody is different,” says Ben Horowitz, cofounder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, in The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

“Some employees are extremely sensitive to feedback while others have particularly thick skin and often thick skulls. Stylistically, your tone should match the employee’s personality, not your mood. Be direct, but not mean. Don’t be obtuse. If you think somebody’s presentation sucks, don’t say, ‘It’s really good, but could use one more pass to tighten up the conclusion.’ While it may seem harsh, it’s much better to say, ‘I couldn’t follow it and I didn’t understand your point and here are the reasons why.’ Watered-down feedback can be worse than no feedback at all because it’s deceptive and confusing to the recipient. But don’t beat them up or attempt to show your superiority. Doing so will defeat your purpose because when done properly, feedback is a dialogue, not a monologue.”

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