20 Examples Of Negative Feedbacks & Best Practices

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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Dealing with negative feedback in the workplace can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope. You want to address issues but are also wary of damaging team morale or creating tension among colleagues. But fear not – offering constructive criticism can be a powerful tool for enhancing teamwork, communication, and overall performance. The trick lies in how you deliver the message.

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In this guide, we’re ditching the generic advice and providing real-life examples and practical strategies. Keep scrolling down!

What Is Negative Feedback?

Negative feedback is essentially feedback that focuses on identifying areas where things didn’t go as planned or didn’t meet expectations. It serves as a signal for areas needing improvement. While it may highlight shortcomings, it’s also about providing constructive insights on how to address those issues and make enhancements.

Constructive Feedback

Constructive feedback is like a helping hand. It’s given with the aim of helping someone get better. This type of feedback looks at both the good and the not-so-good parts of someone’s work or behavior. 

Then, it offers specific advice on how to make improvements. Constructive feedback is meant to be supportive and encouraging, creating an environment where people feel motivated to learn and grow.

Destructive Feedback

Destructive feedback is the opposite of helpful. Instead of lifting someone up, it brings them down. This kind of feedback is hurtful and doesn’t offer any real solutions. 

It might just criticize without offering any guidance on how to improve. Destructive feedback can damage relationships and confidence, making it harder for people to grow and succeed.

4 Different Types of Negative Feedback

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Evaluative Feedback

This type of feedback involves comparing someone’s performance to a standard or set of criteria. It’s like using a yardstick to measure how well they’re doing. Evaluative feedback gives a clear indication of where someone stands and what areas they need to focus on to meet expectations.

Example: “In your presentation, you missed addressing two key points outlined in the project brief. While your delivery was engaging, it’s essential to ensure all relevant aspects are covered to meet our client’s expectations.”

Directive Feedback

When you give directive feedback, you’re telling someone exactly what they need to change or do differently. It’s like giving them a roadmap for improvement without any ambiguity. This type of feedback is especially useful when immediate action is needed or when specific adjustments are required.

Example: “Your report needs more detailed analysis in the financial section. Please include specific data points and trends to support your findings.”

Coaching Feedback

Coaching feedback takes a more collaborative approach. Instead of just pointing out flaws, it helps individuals identify their weaknesses and develop solutions. It’s like being a supportive coach who guides them through self-discovery and encourages them to take ownership of their development.

Example: “I noticed that you struggled with time management during the project. Let’s work together to identify strategies that can help you prioritize tasks and stay organized in future assignments.”

Expert Feedback

Leveraging your expertise, expert feedback goes beyond general observations to provide tailored insights and solutions. It’s like having a specialized consultant who can pinpoint precise problems and offer targeted advice. Expert feedback is particularly valuable for addressing complex issues or challenges that require specialized knowledge.

Example: “As someone with experience in marketing, I suggest refining your social media strategy to target a more niche audience. This could involve leveraging analytics to identify demographics that align with our brand’s objectives.”

Why Giving Constructive Feedback is Necessary

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Let’s face it: Giving feedback, especially constructive criticism, can make others feel uncomfortable. But it’s essential for growth, both for your colleagues and for the entire team.

1. Unlocking Potential

We all have blind spots. Constructive feedback helps colleagues see areas where they can improve, unlocking their full potential and allowing them to excel.

2. Stronger Teamwork

Imagine a team where everyone is operating at their best. Constructive feedback helps create that synergy by identifying areas where colleagues can support each other and work more effectively.

3. Improved Performance

By addressing weaknesses, colleagues can significantly improve their performance. This translates to better results for projects, higher quality work, and, ultimately, a stronger team overall.

4. Building Trust

Open and honest communication, including constructive feedback, fosters trust within a team. Knowing that teammates have your back and are willing to offer helpful criticism creates a safe space for learning and growth.

5. Fostering Innovation

Constructive feedback encourages healthy debate and challenges the status quo. This can spark creativity and lead to innovative solutions and approaches.

How to Deliver Negative Feedback Effectively

Preparation and Planning

Before delivering any criticism, take time to organize your thoughts and identify the specific behavior or issue you wish to address. Consider the impact on the team or project and how it aligns with company values. This preparation ensures your feedback is constructive and relevant.

Timing and Setting

Choose an appropriate time and place for delivering feedback. Opt for a moment when the recipient isn’t under undue pressure or stress. Schedule a private meeting to discuss matters candidly, avoiding public settings for feedback discussions.

Start on a Positive

Initiate the conversation by highlighting the recipient’s strengths and contributions. This sets a positive tone and fosters openness to receiving feedback. Recognizing their efforts demonstrates your appreciation and balances the conversation.

Be Specific and Offer Examples:

Provide specific instances or examples to illustrate your feedback clearly. Vague criticisms can confuse and hinder improvement. For instance, instead of stating, “Your communication skills need improvement,” specify, “During yesterday’s team meeting, your interruptions disrupted the flow of discussion.”

Focus on Behavior, Not Person

Direct your feedback towards actions or behaviors rather than personal characteristics. Avoid making assumptions or resorting to personal attacks. For example, instead of saying, “You’re lazy,” say, “I’ve noticed missed deadlines. Is there a reason for the delay?”

Use “I” Statements

Frame your feedback using “I” statements to express your perspective without assigning blame. For instance, say, “I observed errors in recent work,” rather than, “You always make mistakes.”

Listen and Encourage Dialogue

After sharing feedback, actively listen to the recipient’s response. Encourage open communication by asking questions and avoiding interruptions. Understanding their viewpoint fosters mutual respect and trust.

Offer Solutions

Rather than solely highlighting issues, propose solutions or improvement suggestions. This demonstrates your commitment to their growth and success. Provide actionable steps they can take to enhance performance.

End Positively

Conclude the feedback session on an encouraging note. Acknowledge their strengths and express confidence in their ability to improve. Reinforce positivity by affirming their potential and offering support.

Follow-up and Provide Assistance

After giving feedback, stay in touch to provide ongoing support and resources for improvement. Check regularly to see how things are going and to address any issues that come up. Offering extra training or coaching could also help for long-term improvement.

Top 20 Negative Feedback Examples

  1. Missed Deadline: “Hey [colleague’s name], it looks like we missed the deadline for [project name]. No worries, mistakes happen. How can we prevent this next time? Maybe using a project management tool or breaking tasks into smaller steps could help?”
  2. Small Text on Slides: “Your slides are informative, but the text might be hard to read from the back. Want to increase the font size and use brighter colors for better visibility?”
  3. Unprofessional Email Tone: “Your email to [recipient] seemed a bit strong. Using a calmer tone might ensure a smoother message. I can review your drafts before you send them!”
  4. Poor Confidence: “Hey [colleague’s name], I’ve noticed you have some great ideas, but sometimes you hesitate to share them. Your input is valuable. Maybe we can brainstorm to help you feel more confident about sharing?”
  5. Technical Language: “Your reports are detailed, but sometimes the language can be too technical. Let’s simplify things a bit to ensure everyone can understand your points easily.”
  6. Interrupting Others: “During meetings, it seems like people speak over each other. How about we wait for everyone to finish speaking before jumping in? This way, everyone gets a chance to express themselves.”
  7. Poor Listening: “In meetings, it seems like some important points might get missed. Let’s practice active listening and summarizing what’s been said to ensure everyone is on the same page.”
  8. Team Collaboration: “We’re a team, and collaboration is key! Sometimes, it feels like tasks aren’t evenly distributed. How can we improve communication and teamwork to ensure everyone contributes and feels supported?”
  9. Overcommitment: “You’re always ready to lend a hand, which is awesome! But taking on too much can stress you out. Let’s chat about managing your workload – maybe we can find ways to share the load or use a handy to-do list app?”
  10. Inadequate Prioritization: “Sometimes those urgent tasks don’t get the attention they deserve. Ever heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? It’s a great way to sort out what’s important and tackle it first.”
  11. Inefficient Meeting Participation: “Meetings are important for teamwork, but they can drag on sometimes. How about we jazz them up with clear agendas and stick to our time limits? That way, we can get back to doing what we do best – getting stuff done!”
  12. Holding Grudges: “Hey, we’re all human, and sometimes things can rub us the wrong way. But holding onto grudges just makes things awkward. How about we have an open chat and clear the air? Sounds good?”
  13. Inflexibility: “Change is the only constant, right? But adapting to it can be a bit tricky sometimes. Let’s roll with the punches and brainstorm some solutions together. What do you think?”
  14. Lack of Empathy: “Understanding where others are coming from is key to building a strong team. Let’s make an effort to listen and see things from different angles. It’ll make our teamwork even stronger, don’t you think?”
  15. Lack of Vision: “Alright, let’s get real. Sometimes, it feels like we’re not all on the same page about where we’re headed in the long run. Why don’t we discuss and clarify our goals together? We need a clear vision to keep us motivated and moving forward.”
  16. Negative Attitude: “Positivity is key around here. Is there anything specific on your mind that’s bringing you down? Maybe focusing on solutions and celebrating achievements can help. We need to keep the energy upbeat in the office.”
  17. Unrealistic Expectations: “Aiming high is great, but let’s be practical too. Your goals might be a bit out of reach sometimes. I think you should set achievable deadlines and milestones.”
  18. Lack of Creativity: “We need to shake things up. Let’s brainstorm new ideas and try different techniques. We’ve got to ignite our creativity and find innovative solutions.”
  19. Failure to Learn from Mistakes: “We need to own up to our mistakes and figure out what went wrong. Let’s analyze our past slip-ups and use that knowledge to improve.”
  20. Ineffective Stress Management: “Work can be overwhelming, but you need to handle it better. Try stress management techniques like mindfulness or time management. We need to find that balance and keep our cool.”


When Is It a Good Time to Give Negative Reviews?

It’s best to provide negative feedback shortly after the incident while it’s fresh in both your minds. However, avoid addressing it in the heat of the moment; wait until you’ve both had a chance to cool down.

Additionally, if you observe your colleagues actively seeking feedback or improvement, they may be particularly receptive to constructive criticism. This is an opportune time to share your thoughts and suggestions.

When Not to Give Negative Feedback?

Wait if your colleague is stressed or overwhelmed, aiming for a calmer moment when they’re more receptive. Avoid giving feedback right before important deadlines or presentations to prevent adding extra pressure. Remember to always provide negative feedback in private, one-on-one conversations, avoiding public settings.


Did you get the hang of giving negative feedback? Great! Remember, it’s not just about what you say but also when and how you say it. Take the time to prepare, focus on specific behaviors rather than generalities, and offer constructive solutions. Above all, keep the tone positive and supportive – feedback is about growth, not blame.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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