Part 1/4 The Survival Guide of Giving & Receiving Conscious Feedback

This is the first part of a series of 4 articles to open up the benefits of Receiving and Giving conscious feedback. In the 4 parts we’ll cover the following areas:


Part 1. The 6 Different faces of Feedback
Part 2. The 5 Rules to receive Feedback
Part 3. The 5 Rules to give Feedback
Part 4. The 5 Reflection topics to prepare for Feedback

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How to get the Best out of Feedback Instead of Creating Conflicts and Distress?

Giving and receiving feedback often leads to tensions and discomfort. People so easily feel criticised and get defensive. Feedback, however, is necessary to improve and grow, but only when done wisely. By combining self-reflection with feedback, we can significantly increase the positive impact it can have. 

These 4 blog posts give checklists to help supervisors, leaders and HR managers to simplify and structure their current way of working with feedback. The 5 rules to receive feedback, the 5 rules to give feedback and the 5 topics of reflection are designed to help you get the most out of feedback and turn insights into actionable improvements. 

If you rather watch a video than read this text about Feedback & Reflection, click this link.

The 6 Different Faces of Feedback

Feedback means different things to different people. In the name of “Feedback”, people justify a lot of different behaviours - not all are beneficial to your organisation. So, before deep-diving into the rules of conscious feedback, let’s look at the 6 different faces of feedback. How are you as a manager or leader choosing to use Feedback?



1. Feedback to Complain


People often confuse feedback and complaining. In some companies, the only way to fix problems is to fill-in a “feedback form” or fill-up the “suggestion box”. Complaining-feedback between colleagues easily starts conflicts. This confusion is one of the reasons why people are so afraid of receiving feedback.


2. Feedback as a Feedback Loop


When you’re driving fast, you need to know exactly when you cross that invisible speed-limit, to avoid getting a ticket. It’s the same with human behaviour - feedback can help you to adjust behaviour to different cultures, personalities and styles of relationships. Every person we work with is unique. Without feedback, we easily make wrong assumptions about how to behave and overstep that invisible line of respect.


3. Feedback as a Social-Contract


In companies where continuous improvement is of the utmost importance, every new employee makes a social-agreement about staying open to receive feedback. This is symbolised by “I love feedback” stickers used around the offices. Unfortunately “I love Feedback” is sometimes construed as a licence to be “brutally honest”, which usually creates more havoc than positive company culture.


4. Feedback as a Design Process


Dyson is famous for having used several hundred iterations of prototyping and feedback. With user-centred design-processes, teams invest time and energy as early as possible to make rapid prototypes. This is done with the sole intention of testing their design early enough to receive valuable feedback from users. It allows the team to fail and try again. Feedback can be built into any process to improve, develop and learn.


5. Feedback as a Gift


Just like people who gather at Christmas to share gifts, feedback in TEAL organisations is often considered to be a precious gift given to help each other learn and grow. This is something to look  forward to. They use a “harvester”, who writes down the feedback from a small group of colleagues. The harvester then hands over the written feedback from the group as a symbolic gift for each person. Everybody reflects on 2 powerful questions for each person receiving feedback:


What is the one thing I value with you? 

What is the one area where I sense you could change and grow?


6. Feedback as a Way to Lead


The US Navy Seals talk about taking “extreme ownership” for feedback with regards to what worked or failed on the battlefield for example to debrief causes of accidental “friendly fire”. As a leader, asking for feedback is more heroic than giving feedback, because it requires great courage to ask and great humility to receive that feedback. 

As you can see, feedback can be used in many ways to benefit your organisation, teamwork and individual growth. In Part 2. we’ll focus on The 5 rules to receive feedback to get the most benefits out of it.  

Green Elephant empowers the next generation of conscious leaders to become more influential by upgrading their capacity to have meaningful and crucial conversations. 


Daniels, J. A., & Larson, L. M. (2001). The Impact of Performance Feedback on Counseling Self-Efficacy and Counselor Anxiety. Counselor Education and Supervision, 41(2), 120–130.

Fishbach, A., Eyal, T., & Finkelstein, S. R. (2010). How Positive and Negative Feedback Motivate Goal Pursuit: Feedback Motivates Goal Pursuit. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4(8), 517–530.

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112.

London, M., & Smither, J. W. (2002). Feedback orientation, feedback culture, and the longitudinal performance management process. Human Resource Management Review, 12(1), 81–100.

Moss, S. E., Valenzi, E. R., & Taggart, W. (2003). Are You Hiding from Your Boss? The Development of a Taxonomy and Instrument to Assess the Feedback Management Behaviors of Good and Bad Performers. Journal of Management, 29(4), 487–510.

Shute, V. J. (2008). Focus on Formative Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153–189.

van Duijvenvoorde, A. C. K., Zanolie, K., Rombouts, S. A. R. B., Raijmakers, M. E. J., & Crone, E. A. (2008). Evaluating the Negative or Valuing the Positive? Neural Mechanisms Supporting Feedback-Based Learning across Development. Journal of Neuroscience, 28(38), 9495–9503.

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The Anthropologist

An inspirational design anthropologist and coach, Estève founded Green Elephant and continues to drive the movement with his creative energy and burning ambition.

The Coach

A powerfully driven event designer and communication coach – not to mention our CEO – Anu keeps us on track with femininity, strength and determination.

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