HomeSpecial ReportThe Positives of Negative Feedback

The Positives of Negative Feedback

Many managers hesitate to give negative feedback out of fear it will drag on workers’ motivation. There is some truth to that, says psychologist Ayelet Fishbach, but learning from error is imperative to growth, and managers and employees alike must embrace the positives of negative feedback.

Experience and expertise make people more comfortable with negative feedback. People who are committed and confident in their ability to achieve goals are more likely to view negative feedback as providing useful information. In fact, it could even increase that person’s motivation, Fishbach says.

She recommends that managers couch negative feedback as a lack of progress, not a lack of commitment, especially for those who are in the early stages of a job.

Also, look for opportunities to put distance between the experience of failure. For example, workers may learn from others’ failures whereas they may tune out if the focus is on their own failure. More experienced and confident workers may be OK holding up some of their failures to help the whole team learn.

In fact, says Fishbach, we don’t share enough about our failures, and failures generally provide much more valuable insights than successes. The variance between successes is narrower than between failures. Negative information on failures tend to be unique and, while it is rarer, it is also more elaborated.

Listen to a podcast interview with Ayelet Fishbach.


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Paul Nolan
Paul Nolan
Paul Nolan is the editor of Sales & Marketing Management magazine.

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