Based on the work of Hattie and Timperly (2007) the following was extrapolated; not all feedback is created equal. “In this review, feedback is conceptualized as information provided by an agent (e.g., teacher, peer, book, parent, self, experience) regarding aspects of one’s performance or understanding. A teacher or parent can provide corrective information, a peer can provide an alternative strategy, a book can provide information to clarify ideas, a parent can provide encouragement, and a learner can look up the answerto evaluate the correctness of a response. Feedback thus is a “consequence” of performance” (Hattie & Timperly, 2007).

 

Anyone in a position of authority should understand the three general categories of feedback, Positive, Negative, and Neutral. Then based on the issue, situation, or conditions under which the feedback is to be delivered, a second consideration should be considered in regard to the intent of the feedback. For example, the intent of Positive feedback may be summarized as:

          Constructive (building up, or on a given situation for the purpose of improvement)

          Corrective (realignment of a process for the purpose of refinement)
          Praise (acknowledgement of a favorable result for the purpose of encouragement)

Whereas Negative Feedback, whether intended or not may be construed as:

          Destructive (purposely damaging ego)

          Corrosive (adding to an already damaged personal persona)

          Shame(creating guilt based on inadequate performance)

As might be imagined, negative feedback, while well intended, typically provides the least favored results for behavioral or
attitudinal change.
Lastly, Neutral Feedback, while not always as negatively impactful as negative feedback, can cause an individual to create an internal dialogue which may be based on an incorrect perception. “In the absence of fact, perception becomes the reality” is an appropriate aphorism. Neutral feedback may be construed as:
          Antipathy (deep seated feeling of dislike)
          Dismissal (the treatment as though unworthy of serious consideration)
          Uncaring  (lacking sympathy, concern, or interest in the welfare of another)
It is also worth noting that in addition to understanding each category of feedback, that the timing as to when the feedback is provided will impact whether the recipient is most likely to accept, reject, or ignore by the feedback, as well as to what degree the feedback will be accepted.
 
So What?

The purpose of this introduction to feedback was to reaffirm the significance of the phrase, “everything communicates” and to cause supervisors, managers, and leaders to pause and consider the ramifications before providing their next feedback. Too often the intent is overshadowed by the impact, and we are left wondering why subordinates or direct reports reacted differently than expected.

Having a general understanding as to the impact of feedback could make a significant difference in the outcome of that next conversation. Feel free to add your perspective to this narrative.

Reference

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of educational research, 77(1), 81-112.) http://asp.evaluationdesign.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/power-feedback.pdf