I really hate the word " feedback." It's biz-blab of the worst sort, a weasel-wordy way of saying "criticism" without offending the "let's all be positive" snowflakes of the working world.

In addition, the term doesn't make much sense. Feedback is what happens when a microphone picks up what's coming out of the amplifiers--the loud, sustained squawk that causes everyone in the auditorium to cover their ears. Who wants to hear that?

That being said, the small-business credit firm Headway Capital just sent me a cool infographic that debunks about 90% of the common wisdom about negative feedback (aka "criticism"... if you're thick-skinned enough to use the more accurate term.)

Here's the infographic, followed by my comments.

Here's what I think is most insightful about this infographic:

  • Avoiding negative feedback is doing your employees and coworkers a disservice. As long as you're not being vindictive, pointing out errors is the only they way can improve.
  • It's OK to give negative feedback in public, providing it's specific to behaviors that you want change and there's some value in everyone else knowing about the error.
  • If managers are going to give negative feedback they should be willing to take negative feedback in return. Snowflake managers are the worst. Ugh.
  • Don't try to butter up the person with fake praise just before criticizing them. Give honest praise whenever it's due and criticize when it's appropriate.
  • Talk about how you want projects to go beforehand and then "debrief" after they're done so everyone can learn as much as possible from the experience.
  • Be precise. Criticism that can easily be acted upon is worse than useless. I once had an editor whose go-to criticism was "this doesn't work for me." Idiot.
  • Conflict is good. The worst organizations to work for are those where all conflict is suppressed. Can you say "massive passive-aggression," boys and girls?