Feedback Culture Series: Giving Feedback that Builds Trust

In 2020, we kicked off this series by explaining how incorporating reinforcing feedback into your culture can help create higher-performing teams. The next piece of a successful feedback culture is giving redirecting feedback that builds trust.

An environment of truth and trust is a critical element of high-performing teams. By incorporating reinforcing feedback into your culture, you’ve already laid the foundation for team members to feel safe and know that everyone has one another’s best interest in mind.

But what happens when, inevitably, reinforcing feedback isn’t quite enough? These moments call for redirecting feedback—which addresses ineffective behavior or performance—given in a way that builds trust. If you’ve ever had something constructive to share but decided not to because you didn’t want to rock the boat or hurt someone’s feelings, listen up: the answer is NOT to withhold your feedback, because doing so erodes trust and creates uncertainty.

Giving redirecting feedback can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are our tips on preparing and giving feedback that helps build trusting teams. 


Preparing to give someone feedback doesn’t just mean thinking through what you’re going to say—you should also prepare yourself by reflecting on your own mindset and goals going into the conversation. Targeted preparation will help you stay focused on your goals, so you can stay on track and avoid letting emotions steer the conversation. These feedback conversations are rarely easy, and coming into one with vague, directionless thoughts can make things worse; thorough preparation sets you up for success. Consider:

  • What are my intentions for this person? Are they good?
  • What is the common goal we are working towards by my sharing this feedback?
  • What do I want the other person to walk away with? What do I NOT want for them?

Then consider what you need to say or do in your conversation to get your desired results. 

Preparing to give effective feedback that builds trust between you and your team members requires a time investment to do it right, but it’s a valuable way to create high-performing teams.  


When you deliver your feedback, it’s important to create psychological safety for the other person. Psychological safety is the belief that one can speak openly and honestly in a space without fear of being punished or humiliated. You can help the other person feel safe by:

  • Ensuring it’s a good time for the other person to receive feedback and that you meet in an environment where they feel comfortable speaking freely and openly.
  • Establishing a human connection. Make time for rapport-building before jumping into your feedback.
  • Speaking in terms of your own experience in the situation—not assessing or judging the other person’s ability or potential.
  • Listening to the other person. It requires both of you sharing to really get the full story. To make sure you’re getting the other person’s perspective, lead with curiosity, asking questions and using phrases such as, “Tell me more about…” and “I’m curious about…

Giving feedback that creates psychological safety isn’t just an opportunity for you to get something off your chest. Learn to approach feedback as a conversation between two people, instead of just a directive from one to another. When feedback is treated this way, it can be a powerful tool to build relationships and trust amongst teams.

Feedback conversations are almost never easy—but they are important. You and your team will benefit from putting in the effort to prepare both yourself and your feedback, and then giving the feedback in a way that ensures the other person feels safe.

The final installment of our Feedback Culture series will be around receiving feedback. Stay tuned!




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