Giving and receiving positive feedback

Read a magazine article about giving feedback at work to practise and improve your reading skills.

Instructions

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.

Reading text

Your manager stops you and says she needs to have a word about your performance in the recent project. You worry about it all weekend, wondering what you might have done wrong. When you step into her office on Monday morning she begins by praising you for the good work you've done on the project, and you wonder if this is the obligatory praise that starts off the typical 'feedback sandwich'. You know how the feedback sandwich goes: say something nice, say what you really want to say, say something nice again.

In an attempt to inject some positivity into their feedback, many managers rely on sandwiching negative feedback between two positive comments. However, when feedback becomes such a routine, employees can start to perceive positive feedback as simply a form of sugarcoating the negatives, thus diminishing its value. Instead, positive feedback should not simply be seen as something to cushion the negative, but should be delivered so as to reinforce and encourage good performance. Below are three tips to help you make positive feedback count.

1. Don't always follow positive feedback with negative feedback

When positive and negative feedback always appear to go hand in hand, the positives can become devalued and ignored. Ensure there are times when positive feedback is given for its own sake and resist the temptation to offer constructive criticism.

2. Cultivate a 'growth mindset'

Psychologist and 'growth mindset' proponent Carol Dweck spoke of the plasticity of the brain and our ability to develop skills and talents that we might not have been good at to start with. Many of us tend to focus our praise on the end result and seemingly innate talents, e.g. 'You really have an eye for details' or 'You have a real talent for organising events'. However, research suggests that by focusing on the process of how things are done – praising effort, experimentation and problem-solving strategies – we can encourage the development of new skills and the continued honing of talents.

3. Create a culture of offering positive feedback

Make giving positive feedback part of your team/department/company culture. Don't just wait for special moments like appraisals to give feedback. Offer informal positive feedback when making small talk or when walking down a corridor. Feedback doesn't have to only come from the higher ranks either. Encourage peer feedback among team members and colleagues and actively ask them for positive comments on each other's performances on tasks. 

It might take time to counter the effects of an environment where there is a cynical view of positive feedback, but in the long run, by embracing positive feedback, you can not only enhance working performance but also enrich the quality of life in the workplace. 

Discussion

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Submitted by Fevzi98 on Sun, 04/12/2022 - 00:25

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I think positive feedback must be in the right situation and the same for negative feedback, if we use positive feedback when we give negative feedback to cushion the effect of negative feedback, and this will make positive feedback valueless (without value).

Submitted by Mocosilla on Thu, 15/09/2022 - 02:13

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I think that feedback sandwich is a way to communicate certain things to our team. But my point of view is that isn't the best way to face when a worker isn't given the best performance. Always be polite and honest with ourself and others is for me the best way to recognize the failures and get self improve. (Sorry for my mistakes writing I still learning)

Submitted by Jorge.ACL on Wed, 07/09/2022 - 19:31

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I believe the main thing to keep in mind to be able to give motivating feedback would be to know where the person that you are giving feedback to is at. You need understanding. Say for instance, you are evaluating a new employee, and they are still getting the hang of things. It would be better to acknowledge the efforts that they are doing rather than to nitpick the errors that they've made. But let's say, you've got an employee who's been at the company for a while, and they haven't been giving it their all lately. In that scenario, you'd need to point out to them that they could be doing more of an effort, remind them reasons why they should, indicate their areas of opportunity and give some encouraging words relevant to them.

Submitted by meknini on Sat, 16/07/2022 - 02:19

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Motivating someone means encouraging them to keep on the path they're on without strictly tying them to it. There are many ways to deliver this and as we know no two individuals are totally alike thus the methods should slightly differ.
1. Those who are extrovert would most likely appreciate a publicly open appreciation during informal gatherings whereas an introvert would most probably prefer a pat on the back and quietly spoken praises.
2. Those who have close relationships with colleagues wouldn't mind for everyone to find out thus openly praising in meetings even jokingly would be highly valued as compared to those who have only professional relationships whereby jokes even in an attempt to praise could be deemed as demeaning.
3. Those who like treats should be treated with lavish luncheons accompanied by chosen invited colleagues while those who prefer gifts should be gifted with surprise holiday get-away or a weekend stay at luxurious resort.

Some would just be fine with frequent kind words when the occasion raises.

Submitted by tuguu4 on Sat, 12/03/2022 - 00:08

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This article was concerned with the power of postive feedback. I have been working as manager for three years. In my experience the most imfortant think of the team is team members encourage. In this fact that team members would be contented if they have enough courage.

Submitted by PhamThiDien on Sat, 26/02/2022 - 03:05

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In task 1, may I ask
1/ why the answer to the question "A cynical view of positive feedback …" is not "can make the quality of working life richer" but "can be changed gradually."
in the article, I read " by embracing positive feedback, you can not only enhance working performance but also enrich the quality of life in the workplace. "
2/ in the article, "Ensure there are times when positive feedback is given for its own sake and resist the temptation to offer constructive criticism."
I thought constructive criticism is necessary (so we know where we need to improve) is it correct when I say that constructive criticism is necessary but we can offer it another time? - not the time that we are giving positive feedback? but thinking this way I wonder when is the time for constructive criticism? don't they go hand in hand like 2 sides of a coin?
Thank you.

Hello PhamThiDien,

1/ A cynical view is something that we do not see as positive, so it's hard to imagine it improving the quality of a person's working life.

2/ Yes, that's right. The sense here is not that it's wrong to give constructive criticism, but rather that there are times when all that is needed is to give positive feedback and support. You can have too much of a good thing, after all!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Tue, 26/10/2021 - 11:47

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Giving feedback in postive is the most crucial in workplace and team building. Encourage team members and appreciate their work is the best for members.
A team member wants praise for their work hard and they want leader must do it.

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Submitted by Hennadii on Tue, 29/06/2021 - 16:35

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I think everyone wants to hear about how well we perform. It's important to know your work is worth something, that you don't waste the best part of your day on nothing. And I'm sure all the ways are perfect. You can encourage someone in private talk or in front of the whole team, you also can do it by messages or emails. If there are various possibilities - use each. Don't be greedy on praises. But - the important thing - all your praises must be sincere. It has to be from your heart not from a smooth-talking approach.