How to Give (Negative) Feedback Effectively

Getting honest and useful feedback is a wonderful gift. Obviously positive feedback (“You’re doing a great job with this project!”) is awesome because it makes you feel good and motivated to keep up the good work. Negative feedback, (“Your site is extremely hard to navigate and I wasn’t able to complete the signup process”) can be painful to hear, but if you can swallow your pride, it’s actually an amazing opportunity to improve what you’re working on.

On the other side, being able to deliver good feedback (especially negative feedback) means you have the opportunity to influence the people and projects around you to make them better. But because many people shut down when recieving negative feedback about themselves or others, it’s important to deliver that feedback in the right way.

As a startup founder, I give and receive a ton of feedback both positive and negative, so this is something I think about a lot. Here are some suggestions I have for delivering negative feedback effectively. Follow them and watch your feedback’s influence increase.


  • Show you care about the project/person
    “I’m totally behind your efforts to help disabled athletes in China…”
  • Show you understand and are aligned with the projects goals
    “I know you are focusing on just one market at this time…” 
  • Show that you’ve thought through reasons why the implementation might be what it is
    “I bet you saw good reasons to use three buttons instead of two…”  Continue reading…

Further Thoughts on “Winning Isn’t Normal” (Vlog)

It’s been exactly two months since I published “Winning Isn’t Normal“. I typically get around 100-150 people coming to the site on any given day. (You can see my stats from 2010 for more on this) and when I have a post hit Hacker News, that number can go up to 1-3 thousand. But for whatever reason, over 10,000 people came to my site (many from HN) to read “Winning Isn’t Normal”. It’s by the far the most popular post I’ve ever written and I’m honored that so many people took the time to engage with my work.

I got a lot of feedback from the post (both good and bad) and wanted to share some more thoughts I’ve had on the post. I also wanted to try responding with a video rather than just another blog post .. you know, to mix things up a bit. So let me know what you think about the video in the comments – and I hope you enjoy!

Further Thoughts on Winning Isn’t Normal (

The Original Article: Winning Isn’t Normal
The Hacker News Discussion: HN Comments
The Rumi Quote: “The lion who breaks the enemy’s ranks is a minor hero compared to the lion who overcomes himself” ~ Mevlana Rumi quotes from Rumi Daylight: A Daybook of Spiritual Guidance
Keith Bell Quote: “Remember one thing… winning isn’t normal. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with winning. It just isn’t the norm. It is highly unusual … So it requires unusual action. In order to win, you must do extraordinary things.”
Sebastian Marshall header: Strategy, Philosophy, Self-Discipline, Science. Victory.

Giving Feedback to Your Boss

You are one of the smartest bosses in (describe an area of great competence they have) and I admire the heck out of you for that, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to respect you when you say or do some things that I’d like to point out to you, if you’re willing to hear them. It’s of course your decision whether you want to hear them, but it would help me be more productive for you, because they are eating away at me, and I don’t like not being able to give my all for you.

Dr. Mark Goulston

What an amazing line to deliver to a superviser! I have never used this but I would like to try, because I think it would be very effective. – Jason