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Feedback is great in certain situations, such as the following identified by the Harvard Business Review:

  • When good work, successful projects, and resourceful behavior deserve to be recognized
  • When the likelihood of improving a person’s skills is high, because the opportunity to use those skills again is imminent
  • When the person is already expecting feedback, either because a feedback session was sched­uled in advance or because she knows that you observed the behavior
  • When a problem cannot be ignored, be­cause the person’s behavior is negatively affecting a colleague, the team, or the organization

But feedback isn’t always the answer. In fact, giving feedback in certain situations can damage your relationship with the employee or cause more problems than the situation itself.

Here are some examples of when not to give feedback, again from HBR:

  • When you do not have all the information about a given incident
  • When the only feedback you can offer concerns factors that the recipient cannot easily change or control
  • When the person who needs the feedback appears to be highly emotional or especially vulnerable immediately after a difficult event
  • When you do not have the time or the patience to deliver the feedback in a calm and thorough manner
  • When the feedback is based on your personal preference, not a need for more effective behavior
  • When you have not yet formulated a possible solution to help the feedback recipient move forward

You can read the full article for more ideas on feedback.


There are many times when you shouldn’t give someone feedback. What are some examples of times when feedback isn’t an appropriate response?