Renata Bernarde Home

How to Give and Receive Feedback

I created this document following an event where someone asked a question about feedback. I then said, “I will send you a great checklist,” when I got home, I realized that the checklist I used in the past was outdated. I then decided to create my own: it incorporates bits of advice I received and gave over the years, and the last tip includes a reference to one of my favorite management books, in case you need extra help to manage challenging conversations at work, or during your exit interview.

This list includes a lot of “common sense” as well as good research on how to give and receive feedback. You may wish to use it in other areas of your life as well. I will leave that up to you.

Note that this checklist can and should be improved upon and adapted to your situation and personal style. There is no “one size fits all” in the world, but I hope it is a start for you to work on.

The Checklist on How to Give and Receive Feedback


Choose a Calm and Bright Environment: Select a quiet space with natural light, where the setting doesn’t feel intimidating. Consider the seating arrangement too – sitting side by side rather than across from each other can create a less adversarial atmosphere.

Allocate Ample Time: Ensure you have more than enough time for the feedback session. Rushing or squeezing it between meetings can detract from its effectiveness. You want to ensure you’re doing this right.

Adopt a Learning Mindset: Remember, you don’t fully understand the issue until the session is over. Keep an open mind, listen actively, and be prepared to ask questions to fully understand the other person’s perspective.

Stay Present and Confident: Be in the moment and relax. Remind yourself that this is a constructive conversation, not a life-threatening situation.

Be Vulnerable and Open: If you expect the other person to be open and vulnerable, make sure to reciprocate. Share your side of the story honestly and be on the same wavelength as them.

Communicate Clearly and Honestly: Put the problem forward succinctly and honestly. Use specific examples to make your feedback more tangible and actionable.

Connect Genuinely: Make eye contact occasionally to genuinely connect. Ensure they see your hands; don’t hide them under a desk. Hands are an essential body language; use them to represent peace and protect yourself. I have learned to place my hands
on the table and keep my palms up as much as possible. This helps me deliver lousy news and helps the listener understand that I am not a threat. I have also learned to place my hand near my heart when receiving bad news.

Focus on Solutions: Move the conversation from problem identification to solution generation. Aim to conclude the meeting with a collaborative plan.

Use Physical Anchors if Necessary: Squeezing a pen, button, or paper clip can help maintain focus. Drinking water or placing a hand on your heart can help manage emotions.

End Positively with a Feedback Sandwich: Start with positive feedback, address areas for improvement with specific examples, and conclude on another positive note. This approach, when done sincerely, can soften the impact of criticism.

Assess Feedback Delivery: Understand that poor delivery doesn’t always equate to malintent. Sometimes, it’s a skill the other person needs to improve. But also be aware that consistently negative interactions could indicate a toxic environment, as discussed in “The No Asshole Rule” by Robert Sutton.

Still Need Help? Here are Other Services that Will Help You

Scroll to Top