Giving constructive feedback, whether to colleagues or clients, is difficult and can often be met with resistance.

One way to overcome this is to make your feedback seem less like personal criticism, by focusing on your own experience when providing feedback. This way, the feedback will be less about what the other person did or did not do, and more about you and how their behaviour or work – as observed by you – made you feel.

To give feedback in this way, keep the following steps in mind:

  • Observe behaviours – begin with an ‘I’ statement and explain to the feedback receiver what you observed in their behaviour or their work.
  • Describe the impact – express how this behaviour or work made/makes you feel. This should be expressed as a personal feeling.
  • Pause – give the feedback receiver a moment to let your words sink in.
  • Make a suggestion – at this point, the feedback receiver will be more open to receive your suggestion for improvement.

Focusing on yourself while giving feedback relieves the “pressure” on the person you are talking to. By doing so, you will significantly increase the chances that your feedback will be heard and acted upon. Try it next time!


BCW Sports practice is the sport unit of global advisory firm Burson-Marsteller. We provide strategy and communication advice for sport clients around the world. For more information: