The Art & Science of Feedback

One of the most important interpersonal communication skills in maintaining healthy personal and professional relationships is giving and receiving feedback. It is also the most challenging. Whereas giving feedback opens one to the risk of being misunderstood, accepting feedback from others demonstrates that one is invested in the relationship and willing to take the time to help resolve issues. When we engage in feedback, we are open to the suggestions of others and disclose our feelings, it’s a give-and-take. 

What is feedback?

Most people recoil when they hear the word “feedback.” This is because it brings about memories of others telling us that we’ve done wrong. However, attacks and insults aren’t what is meant by feedback. In fact, feedback is not merely a list of our negative qualities, it’s an inventory of how others experience us, both good and bad.


For instance, the feedback includes those things that could be improved to enhance the relationship as well as those things that are currently going well. Most importantly, the purpose of feedback is to let those around us know what we need from them.

Why is feedback important?

We all need feedback. We need to give and receive feedback in all of our relationships in order to thrive and build security. Feedback can strengthen a relationship because knowing that the other person is going to speak honestly creates and builds trust. What’s more, trying to ignore unhealthy behaviors can lead to those behaviors continuing or escalating over time.


The encouraging news is that feedback does not have to be so painful. One can learn the skills and techniques to give and receive it constructively. Here are some tips to remember when giving/receiving feedback:


1) Making sure that feedback is ongoing: Feedback need not be given just once in a while, but instead can be part of the ongoing maintenance of the relationship so that when given, it does not come as a surprise to the other person.


2) Including positive feedback: Constantly criticizing the other person can damage a relationship. To give constructive criticism/feedback to someone, it is important to have built a relationship with them that includes positive feedback too.


3) Self-disclosure: Feedback, when given well, also involves a bit of self-disclosure. That is because disclosing the impact of the other person’s behaviour on them involves being somewhat vulnerable, which in turn, helps the other person to receive it with a degree of openness.


4) Distinguishing between requests and demands: All constructive feedback is a request, not a demand. Requests allow room for each other’s perspectives. Demands do not.

Giving and receiving feedback requires openness, empathy, and nuanced dialogue. This comes with practice. With the right training, one can make feedback an essential component of one’s personal and professional relationships.


It may be difficult to give feedback in a way that promotes a loving and secure relationship. One may be worried about hurting the other person’s feelings or whether or not one can live with this behaviour, but enabling a healthy conversation about our needs can be well worth the effort. 

About Author – 

Sarika Pandit – 

Psychotherapist, Advanced level in REBT, AEI, NY

Sarika Pandit has completed her MBA and worked for 15 years in the corporate world with organizations such as Unilever, Nielsen and L’Oreal, before opting to pursue counseling. She has also completed MA in Counselling Psychology, and PG Diploma in Counseling (TISS). She has trained in Advanced level in REBT with the Albert Ellis Institute, New York and in Single Session Therapy (SST). She is the Co-founder of an NGO that works in the area of creating safer spaces for children and adults.