Feedback in the corporate context is constantly associated with praise due to some points of convergence that exist between them, such as the contribution to someone's development and with the context of the behavior made by the employee.

But what about when feedback is not given with the intention of praising someone's activity, but rather to make them understand the reasons for their mistakes and why they need to work on improvements? The concept of negative feedback is about this and, in order to be effective, it requires great delicacy by the leaders.

In this text, we bring some relevant aspects about negative feedback, including the analysis of when it is necessary and how to apply it. Check it out!

What is negative feedback?

Negative feedback is a feedback focused on correcting errors, inadequacy or poor performance, for example. Unlike positive feedback, which is focused on praising successes, negative feedback serves to highlight points of improvement and to boost the personal performance of the person who receives it.

This type of feedback can be extremely useful for the overall results of an organization, since it acts directly on problems and with a great focus on improvements.

Just as positive feedback needs certain good practices to be carried out with attention, negative feedback does too. In any case of feedback, there are some fundamental points of attention to carry it out. One of them is specificity, since, in order to have feedback, it is necessary to have an activity or behavior that requires attention. Regardless of whether they are positive or negative, it is extremely important that they are clear and objective.

In the case of negative feedback, it is important to emphasize that they fit well in individual conversations (1:1 meetings) and that they should not be carried out in an expository way. After all, if there is nothing to praise, there is no reason for the person's colleagues to know.

Why pay extra attention to giving negative feedback?

According to HubSpot data, 43% of the most engaged employees in an organization receive feedback on their demands at least once a week, which makes the relevance of the topic very present in the corporate environment. However, when we talk about negative feedback, there are appropriate contexts to carry it out.

Unlike positive feedback, there are very important aspects to pay attention to when giving negative feedback. In general, they require more delicacy on the part of the person who will communicate, since they can negatively impact the receiver.

If this type of feedback does not succeed, some of the aspects that can most disturb the perception of the employees who received it are:

  • Bad feelings: sloppy feedback can lead to feelings of frustration, discouragement, anger, shame or embarrassment;
  • Demotivation: as a result of the bad feelings we have already mentioned, negative feedback can affect the employee's motivation, especially if the employee feels wronged. Consequently, this can lead to a decrease in productivity;
  • Low self-esteem: if feedback is given aggressively or without consideration for the employee's feelings, they may feel undervalued and have low self-esteem. This can affect their confidence in themselves and their ability to do the job;
  • Self-doubt: the person may question their skills and competencies, believing that they are not good enough;
  • Resentment: the employee may feel resentful towards the person who gave the negative feedback.

However, again: the purpose of this type of feedback is the same as any other: to promote the employee's reflection on their own behavior, in a healthy way, and making them able to identify what they did wrong, encouraging them to think about ways to reduce the possibility of future mistakes.

How to give a negative feedback?

Before even thinking about giving negative feedback, it is important to identify if this type of feedback fits the situation. If it does, then there are some points of attention to have before doing anything. Check them out!

Don't give up on clear communication

The importance of clear and cohesive communication in the corporate environment is not only necessary to keep tasks and teams on track to avoid conflicting situations. When failures happen and criticisms of improvement need to be made to employees, it is also essential to keep the communication clear. This is because it requires delicacy to be able to separate personal issues from behavioral issues.

After making a mistake, the employee needs to understand the negative impact caused by their actions and what should be done so that this does not happen again and that objective improvements are achieved in the performance of that particular person. It is important to find the right measure so that this feedback is beneficial to the person and does not discourage them from reducing their productivity.

Support your feedback with data

An important aspect that can help develop the clear communication we mentioned at this point is to bring data explaining why the behavior was inappropriate or wrong, making the review clearly necessary for a given context.

For example, when an activity carried out by someone in sales has considerable impacts in relation to loss of customers, recurring complaints or significant reduction in results, this information can be presented to support your argument.

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Don't make the feedback personal

Keep very clear in mind what should be highlighted when giving feedback; this includes the approach that will be used and under what circumstances it will be given. During this process, it is essential to focus specifically on the behavior that caused the feedback, not on the person or their technical capabilities.

In this way, the employee will understand that their failure, regardless of what it is, was exclusively behavioral and that it does not concern their professionalism. Mistakes happen and it is important that leadership has this understanding and conveys confidence to their leaders at the time of feedback.

Offer the solution

Having to highlight mistakes should not mean the end of the world for the employee. Quite the contrary, this moment serves to develop it further through its mistakes. One way to stimulate this depends directly on the leadership itself, since it can bring solutions.

At this moment, it is worth rethinking strategies, listening to the needs of the person led and following the way that is best for both parties; both valuing the fair load of activities and focusing on results.

Examples of well-executed negative feedback

As we have already reinforced, this type of feedback requires delicacy and, after all the tips we have commented on how to give negative feedback, we have separated some practical examples to facilitate visualization.

Suppose a subordinate of yours has problems related to communication; he is unable to be precise with words, makes confusing presentations and is unable to request appropriately. When you approach him to give this type of feedback, it is worth paying attention to some words and being careful with the message that will be transmitted.

Emphasize behavior

Think about the exact context in which the inappropriate or faulty behavior took place and make it clear to the person in a respectful way and without relying on too general concepts.

Example: Instead of saying "you don't communicate well", go for "in today's meeting presentation, I had difficulty following your line of reasoning".

Be objective

Don't beat around the bush and just make it obvious what needs to change and why.

Example: "you need to improve your communication so we don't have any more noise in the daily meetings".

Offer solutions

It is essential that this part of the process is associated with the previous one, because, although the employee needs to know clearly what their points of improvement are, they also need to know that they can count on the support of their leadership.

Example: "To help you with this issue, we can think of initiatives that gradually get you to speak 'in public' more often".

Recognize progress

As a leader, you will know if the employee in question has progressed in any aspect that concerns the mistake they made. And, if they have progressed, it does not hurt to support them in the process.

Example: "although you have this difficulty, you are doing a great job and have improved a lot compared to the previous period."


In this article, you were able to better understand what negative feedback is, what is the importance of adopting it in your team and how to do it with the proper care. We also brought the importance of planning for this type of feedback, balancing the rationality necessary for results with the delicacy of dealing with people, necessary for people's mental health and motivation.

If you want to know more about how our Feedback platform can help your company, contact us and clear your doubts!