Deal with Criticisms & Compliments – The Feedback Model

By on October 12, 2016

Man is a social animal, more so in the internet connected world. Tasks are becoming more collaborative, although people that are executing them may be miles away from each other.  Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to get things done without collaborating with other people. And of course, when there is collaboration there is feedback. Consciously or unconsciously people in groups give feedback to each other – through their body language, informal discussions or even formal written procedures.

While we have seen that agile performance management advocates continuous mode of feedback among co-workers, it is important to receive the message in the right stride. This feedback is intended for developing the skill sets rather than hurt someone (through criticism) or make someone complacent (through compliments). Given that exchanging feedback is one of the most difficult & sensitive processes, it is important to know how to deal with it.

Why do we need models?

In most of the cases, our instant & natural reaction to any kind of feedback (irrespective of its nature) is emotional. We rarely take a step back & try to figure out ways to make ourselves better in future based on the present criticisms and compliments. Result is, inconsequential feedback leading to awkward situations between individuals.

That is where Models come in. Models help us absorb all the data & categorize it for more structured & rational consumption. By relying on models, we tend to make more evidence based judgments than the ones merely based on gut feeling. Models make the processes scalable, as we saw in the Double loop learning model blog post.

The Feedback Model

The Feedback Model is one such model developed for helping us decide whether and how to react to any kind of feedback. You can concretise a clear plan of action if you categorise the feedback received, using this framework.

The Feedback model

How to Use the Feedback Model?

This model consists of a quadrant that helps you classify the assessment you have received from other people.

The feedback model is based on your own assessment of the criticisms & compliments you have received from other people. Idea is to take a step back & concentrate on the feedback message rather than the conveyor, on the feedback content rather than only emotions. Analyse the message & place it in any one of the quadrants explained below.


If you think the message fits in the category of advice, where you have a chance of betterment although what you did previously earned you a few accolades.


Typically compliments end up making us complacent. The feedback model suggests we analyse the compliment content rationally & see what we have done correctly and should continue doing them in the future.


Suggestion is a piece of message that tells us our behaviour was bad and can be improved. Can is an important word here! Although continuing this type of behaviour may not cause damage in the long term, it is certainly not helping you grow either.


One of the most provocative type of feedback is criticism. Emotions run high, especially when one is at the receiving end. Criticism taken in the right stride helps us make informed judgments around our weaknesses.

While this process in itself may seem fairly easy, it ends up making us conscious about our own behaviour. We ask questions off ourselves as to what are the things that we need to do in order to improve our performance in the future.

This type of modelling can help put things in perspective, especially while a culture of continuous feedback is being built. What other models do you use to make the most of feedback you receive?

Reference – The Decision Book, Fifty models for strategic thinking – Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler

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