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Characteristics Of Useful Feedback
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By Pfeiffer and Co.

Useful Feedback Is:

1. Given with care. To be useful, feedback requires the giver to feel concern for the person receiving the feedback--to want to help rather than hurt the recipient.

2. Given with attention. It is important for the giver to pay attention to what he or she is doing while giving feedback. This promotes a two-way exchange with some depth of communication.

3. Invited by the recipient. Feedback is most effective when the recipient has invited the comments. This provides a platform for openness and some guidelines; it also gives the recipient an opportunity to identify and explore particular areas of concern.

4. Expressed directly. Good feedback is specific; it clearly describes observable behavior and specific incidents. Making general or vague comments about an issue is of little value. The most useful feedback is direct, open, and concrete.

5. Expressed fully. Effective feedback requires more than a bald statement of facts. Feeling reactions also need to be expressed so that the recipient can judge the full impact of his or her behavior.

6. Uncluttered by evaluative judgments. Feedback is most helpful when it does not consist of judgments or evaluations, such as assuming the other person's motivations or intentions. If judgments must be included, the giver should first state clearly that these are matters of subjective evaluation, then describe the situation as he or she sees it, and finally, let the recipient make the evaluation.

7. Well-timed. The most useful feedback is given when the recipient is receptive to it and is sufficiently close to the particular event being discussed for it to be fresh in his or her mind. Storing comments over time can lead to a buildup of recriminations that reduces the effectiveness of the feedback when it is finally given.

8. Easily acted on. The most useful feedback deals with behavior that can be changed by the recipient. Feedback concerning matters outside the recipient's control is not often useful. Often it is helpful to suggest alternative ways of behaving that allow the recipient to think about new ways of tackling old problems.

9. Checked and clarified. If possible, the recipient of the feedback should check with other people to determine whether the giver's perceptions are shared by others. Different viewpoints can be collected and assimilated, points of difference and similarity clarified, and a more objective picture developed.

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