The power of positive feedback

After one particularly long day, I noticed a review of my book ‘Greetings from Abroadland’ on (a Finnish) blog called ‘Kirjeitä Shanghaista’. It made me happy and humbled. How amazing that the book has made a positive impact! And that the blogger had taken time to write the review.


It made me also to think why this kind of feedback feels so uplifting.

What makes feedback effective?

At best, feedback boosts confidence and motivation and improves the performance. Feedback can also make the subject of feedback more real. The main things seem to be that the feedback comes from the right person and that it’s genuine and precise.

“There’s no such thing as valuable feedback from someone that you don’t trust.”

General praises like “You did great!” are better than nothing and they also can feel nice but if you describe the reasons why you think and feel in a certain way has more powerful effect. So instead of “You did great!”, tell why you think the person did great. The recipient can then get a stronger and longer lasting positive boost and understanding of the effects of her/his outcomes. It also makes the recipient feel that the feedback provider knows what she/he talks about.

Also in the blog review of my book, the writer – who also lives abroad with a family and therefore has experience about book’s themes – tells which things she found interesting in the book and why, and what kind of feelings some of the contents raised.

“Throughout our lives we are in a position to give feedback but often mistakenly fall into the trap of not giving any at all—just a flurry of compliments that only feeds the ego and helps us escape the seemingly painful process of being honest and helpful.”
Gregory Ciotti, The Psychology of Feedback vs. Praise. Providing the right kind of feedback means everything.

DSC_0152 (2) copy 2

Balancing the positive and negative feedback is also something to consider. For example in Forbes’ article How To Give Concise Positive Feedback, Kristi Hedges advices to keep the positive and negative feedback separate: “The “sandwich” approach – where you say something positive, negative, then positive – has caused more confusion than is necessary. What people hear is the negative with a transparent effort to soften the blow. Or they lose the message entirely. “

Also, different type of feedback serves people at different times of their life and career. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, I believe the most important thing is that it’s justified and constructive.

“Sometimes we humans think that people read our minds. You might notice a person doing something worthy of positive feedback or praise. You may register this “good job” and it may make you happy – so happy that you forget to go tell the person. Or you may simply feel awkward to be that proactive or direct with someone. Find ways to trigger yourself to tell this person.”

By giving encouraging feedback – whether it’s a quick comment or deeper evaluation – we are not only doing good for others but also for ourselves. We get our share of the upbeat feelings and the opportunity to notice more things worthy of positive feedback.

Let’s pay it forward.


My recommendation:
‘Kirjeitä Shanghaista’ blogger’s Instagram feed on Finnish family’s life in Shanghai
And if you know Finnish, the blog Kirjeitä Shanghaista


Leave a Reply