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Difference Between Constructive, Positive, Destructive, Negative Feedback with Examples

Giving and receiving feedback is both a science and an art. Intentions, communication style, right time and right place are some significant attributes behind an effective and efficient feedback. Feedback is important in both personal and professional life. Giving and receiving feedback in personal life includes parents, children, friends, relatives, and spouse (husband or wife). Performance appraisal feedback, interview feedback, peer feedback, coaching, training and presentation feedback
Difference Constructive, Positive, Destructive, Negative Feedback
Difference Constructive, Positive,
Destructive, Negative Feedback

Constructive Vs Destructive feedback

Constructive feedback focuses on the common goal while destructive feedback deviates from the common goal. For example, imagine, you are a manager and Mr. A and Ms.B are reports to you. Mr.A used offensive language on Ms.B and Ms.B complains about this conflict. If you tell Ms.B, “Ms B, if Mr.A used offensive language, you return it with offensive language, take revenge” is destructive feedback. On the other hand you tell Ms.B, “I will talk to Mr.A regarding this and take appropriate action. And, I’m very happy about your behavior during this conflict as you’ve behaved professionally by not using offensive language in return.” This is an example of constructive feedback. So, it is absolutely fine in many situations to give constructive negative feedback.

Positive Vs Negative feedback

Positive feedback is use of positive language, affirmative optimistic words of appreciation whereas negative feedback is use of harmful, damaging, disapproving language with harsh tone of voice. For example, “I did a great job and I’m admired about your curiosity on the subject” is positive feedback and, “I hate the way you behaved in front of guest and family members. Get out of here and I do not want to talk to you anymore.”

The intention behind feedback is vital and it makes all the difference. A positive feedback can be a destructive one if your intention is not aligning towards supporting goal or sustainable relationships. For example, Mr.X delivers one of the worst presentations and if your intention is to hinder Mr.X’s career growth, you will give a positive destructive feedback by saying, “That was the best presentation ever and keep it up”. On the other hand, if your intention is to make Mr.X one of the best presenters in the world, you would give negative yet constructive feedback by say, “Mr.X, sorry to say that your presentation lacks clarity and conciseness. Please work on it as it is not up to my expectations”.

To build interesting human relationships both in personal and professional life, you must strive to provide positive constructive feedback. To achieve this, you need both, use of polite supportive words with courteous tone of voice and supportive, cooperative and collaborative intentions. Intrapersonal and interpersonal skills are as important as verbal and non-verbal communication while giving and receiving feedback.

Whether at work or at home, giving and receiving feedback is one of the vital interpersonal skills
which can enhance human relationships. In feedback, having good intentions and understanding the other parties’ needs and traits is as important as words that are used and tone or voice. To give effective feedback you should understand how a feedback is different from many other synonyms.

Besides finding the appropriate time to give and receive feedback, you need four other vital skills that include intrapersonal, interpersonal, verbal and non verbal communication skills so that your feedback is both effective and efficient.

Constructive feedback is giving feedback keeping the goals and intentions in mind. So, constructive feedback could be both positive as well negative. Whether it your spouse or boss, as long as your motive is constructive, go ahead and communicate.

Constructive Vs Destructive Feedback

The difference between constructive and destructive feedback is constructive feedback focus on the goal, intent and motive in three angles: self, social and sustainable while in destructive feedback this balance may lack or would be biased.

Giving constructive feedback is about effective interpersonal communication. Here is a list of do's and don't when you give constructive feedback with examples


  • Give genuine compliments and appreciate the person
  • Even when you disagree, say, "No" politely
  • Show your emotions through the prosody of the language
  • Use language eloquence such as use of figure of speech if you are good at it.
  • Use persuasive words, phrases and statements, empathy statements, rapport building statements and transition words to move from one idea to another. 
  • Communicate assertively
  • Listen actively when giving and receiving feedback
  • Be kind and polite 
  • Ask questions
  • Illustrate your point using anecdotes and short stories
  • Grab the attention and keep their attention to persuade your point
  • Use creative methods to make your feedback more innovative.


Avoid these verbal communication barriers:
  • Judgmental statements
  • Redundant statements
  • Mother Tongue Influence (MTI)
  • Negative words and statements
  • Verbal speech fillers

Blame Vs Complaint Vs Grievance 

When you blame you do not expect a solution or action but when you complain you expect a solution. and the cause for compliant is grievance For example, you blame that your boss, that he is  very aggressive, to your wife or grandfather. But you complain about your boss to his boss so that action is taken against your boss is compliant and grievance is how much you are affected by your boss's aggressive attitude.

Given after an action or event
Given before an action or event
Can be given by anybody
Sometimes, we take advice from Experts
In professional scenario, The person who gives feedback helps receiver on improvement. For example, Mr.A, boss, while giving feedback to Mr.B, his subordinate to improve on communication skills will also help Mr.B to improve on it by referring good communication websites and books
The person who gives the advice may not help in improvement. For example, Mr.A tells Mr.B to improve on communication skills but may not help him.
It is compulsory or mandatory to listen to feedback both parties are interdependent
Not compulsory or mandatory.


Suggestions are given only when asked by others. Before giving a suggestion, you ask, “May I give you a suggestion?” and the other has all the rights not to obey your suggestion but when you give a feedback both the parties are interdependent and it is obligatory to work on the feedback. Feedback is given when you work in team in order to achieve a common goal. So, any improvement proposal that align to the common goal is a feedback.


Criticism, though is an expression of disapproval of someone or something with valid argument, is also an analysis of merits, demerits, advantages, disadvantages, pros, and cons of an idea, concept, thought, or opinion. Unlike feedback where solution is suggested, criticism does not provide action or solution. For example, you can criticize the demerits of social networking without suggesting any solutions.

More examples of feedback at work:-

Mr.A uses Internet access for personal purposes
See whether internet has been used too often
Mr.A, who reports to you,  doesn't’ include you in customer mailer
Am I wrong
Please tell him, “I’m sorry, I should’ve told you. It is my mistake, please include me in customer mails”
Mr.A becomes uncomfortable when you talk to him about personal life
Be aware of people’s likes and dislikes of your team

Mr.A and Mr.B, who report to you, are arguing on the floor but never reported to you
Provide solution only when asked
Mr.A says that Mr.B is lying
Analyze the situation
Mr.A used offensive language with Mr.B and you know Mr.A is always like that
Assume not
Don’t assume that Mr.A is wrong.
Mr.A is late to office as his dad is suffering from cancer
Be assertive, not passive.
Mr. is A is late to work because he partied last night
Accept all kinds of people, respect everyone
Mr.A is listening to loud music and you’re affected but he is your colleague
Another person
Take another’ person’s help to solve the issue
Mr.A is not able to complete a task due to sickness (Backbone problem)
Assign him some other task that suits him

Where do I use These Feedback Techniques

  • In your personal life: when playing different life roles such as brother, father, husband and so on.
  • In your professional life: when I'm selling something or providing customer service.
  • As a speech transition during everyday conversations at home and at work.
  • When you have conflict with, your personal life goals, life transitions, and life decisions, people around you.
Effective interpersonal skills includes giving and receiving feedback in a most effective and efficient manner. To develop good feedback skills is both a science and an art. With a little patience and perseverance, you will be able to master the skill of giving and receiving feedback.

See Also

Empathy StatementsLEAP Mnemonic: Listen, Express, Ask, Pause
List of Judgmental WordsVAK Mnemonic: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic
Assertive, Aggressive and Passive Statements: I'm OK, You're OK
Creative Attention Getters: SPECTACLE Mnemonic: Short stories, Proverbs, Experience, Current affairs, Theories, Amusing facts, Clips, Laughing jokes, Enquirer
Sales Transition Words: 4C Mnemonic: Compare, Contrast, Cause, Consequence


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