An important element of personal development and improvement is receiving feedback and outside opinions. There are often barriers that we do not see ourselves that need to be identified by someone else. Behavior that may be unproductive and hindering may go completely noticed on our own until it is pointed out by a friend or colleague who sees it and wants to help by sharing. Although feedback can come from the best intentions, many have difficulty receiving it and may take personal offense. However, if you are the one who is giving feedback, there are ways to promote a positive response.

#1 Build Trust
People are more likely to listen to and accept advice if it comes from a trusted source. If you are a good friend, the trust may already been established, but may not be the case in a work relationship. In any situation the person must trust where the feedback is coming from. Let them know why you are sharing this with them, whether it is for their own improvement, safety, or your concern. If the person knows the comments are for their benefit, they will be open to listening, and more likely to accept it.

#2 Contrast
In addition to explaining why you are sharing, it is important to let them know the reasons you are not. We instinctively put up our defenses when feel we are being criticized. Instead of actually listening, many try to determine why they think you are giving them feedback, despite the fact that you may have already told them why. Explain that you are not insulting, criticizing, or passing judgment, because no matter what you say, it may be interpreted that way. By including this clarification, you strengthen the trust.

#3 Focus on Improvements
No one wants to dwell on their own mistakes, and no one wants to hear someone else tell them that they have a problem. It may seem that telling someone about the mistakes they make can help them, but it only helps when they can find value in it. If you concentrate on the positive results the person can expect from taking your advice, they will be more open to your feedback, and will see the worth in taking your advice.

#4 Use Examples
Any opinion is strengthened by evidence. When providing feedback, use examples when possible. Using examples can create trust of the feedback itself. Specific examples of actions and behavior are less deniable, provide a better description of the behavior in question, and will give a starting ground for making improvements.

#5 Give Positive Feedback
Feedback is not just about improvement, it is about what was done well. It should be a way to acknowledge accomplishments. People need self esteem in order to make improvements in their lives, and including true positive feedback can give them that extra boost they need to do so. It should not be diminished in any way by being used in contrast to other feedback. For example, saying "You did very well, but...." lowers the value of the compliment as it seems they did something well but not that well because of something else. Make sure the person feels good about what they did right.

Feedback is most effective when the receiver is open to it. Having trust in a relationship can reduce the difficulty of the task, but an additional trust in the source of the feedback, the reasoning behind it and the feedback itself is needed. For the best results, come from a place that truly benefits the receiver, and communicate that to them.

Author's Bio: 

Adam is a human resources professional who has been educated in oral communication, diversity, and team/leadership development from the University of Southern California.

In his recruiting experience, has managed the hiring process for a variety of positions in the IT, media, graphic design and hospitality industries. Adam's background also includes training and development in which he has facilitated new hire orientations and trained different levels of staff in hospitality standards and safety. Adam has also acted as a consultant for non-profit organizations to help improve company wide communication processes. Visit his weblog at