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Feedback with Feeling

Feedback can be hard to give and hard to get. Almost everyone tenses up when the words “I have some feedback for you” are spoken. But in organizations where feedback is a part of the culture, people ask for feedback if it is not forthcoming.

It’s people’s feelings about feedback that is the problem. We all give ourselves feedback and instinctively know we would benefit from an outside view to make up for blind spots. The question is, feedback from whom?

How do you as a sales leader or salesperson become the person whose feedback is valued? How can you help create a culture where feedback is a core competency? Where there is trust? Sure, it would be great if executive leadership were the role models, and in some organization that is the case. But the big factor is the role modeling — it starts with you asking for feedback and listening and incorporating what, after consideration, makes sense to you. When you ask for feedback, you lay the groundwork for giving feedback. And peer-to-peer feedback can be the most powerful in improving performance, but it is even less prevalent than feedback from sales managers to salespeople.

How you give feedback matters as much, and I truly think more, than the content of the feedback itself. How you deliver it determines how it is heard and felt. It is important to remember that feedback evokes emotions. The cognitive message is shaped by feelings — how you feel giving it and how the person feels receiving it.

Let’s recap guidelines you can put into practice immediately to make yourself feel good about giving and getting feedback and turning it into a competitive edge.


Balance feedback with strengths and areas for improvement. No one is 100% and no one 0%; be specific; Focus on two strengths and two areas of improvement at most; Don’t forget praise; Increase positive feedback but have the courage to say what has to be said — be honest.


Take you emotional temperature and if you are angry delay, Check out your intent — is it to help or “get him/her”; Be the model; Trust and be trustworthy; Respect confidentiality and privacy — close the door.


Give feedback close to the event; Let them talk first and listen; Start on time; Avoid interruptions; End on an action step; Don’t be a go-between; Ask for feedback on the feedback you give; Ask for feedback for yourself.

Feedback with Feeling

Effective coaching is both cognitive and emotional. If your intent is to help, listen, and give balanced feedback, you almost can’t go wrong. Giving feedback is giving a gift. At Richardson Sales Performance, there was the joke that it was the gift that never stops giving because it was pretty constant. There is no question that feedback can have a positive impact on performance — but it can also have a negative impact. The feelings you have when you give feedback and your skill make a big difference in the impact your feedback has. You have what it takes to learn and teach and strengthen relationships, but keep in mind the cognitive and emotional side.

About the Author

Linda Richardson is the Founder and Executive Chairwoman of Richardson, a global sales training business. As a recognized leader in the industry, she has won the coveted Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales Excellence for 2006 and in 2007 she was identified by Training Industry, Inc. as one of the “Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals.” Linda was also recognized with the Top Sales and Marketing Award for Thought Leader in 2012 by the Top Sales World.

Complimentary White Paper: Great Coaching is Counter-Intuitive