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Negative Feedback



Complaining vs Criticism

Cruel To Be Kind

31 Examples of Negative Feedback

Negative feedback is feedback that is accusatory, combative, insulting, harsh or overly critical for the situation. This is considered a poor practice under normal circumstances as it is hurtful, unhelpful, counterproductive and a common source of interpersonal conflict. The following are illustrative examples of negative feedback.
Accusatory Tone
Why did you do it like that!
I have told you before and you never listen.
Combative Tone
Why are you looking at me like that?
Commanding Language
You must complete this today!
I know it's hard for you but ...
Nobody in this company knows what they are doing.
This project is going to fail.
The entire project is ruined because of you.
You are always late.
Excessive Criticism for the Situation
Why are you ruining everything?
I will never do business with you again.
Hey you, get over here!
Inappropriate Directness / Honesty
Your cooking is terrible.
Inappropriately Personal Criticism
You need to work on your hairstyle.
Insulting Tone
Come on .. get up to speed with everyone else.
Intentionally Provoking An Emotional Response
Does your wife know you're incompetent at work?
You're not good enough with people to handle that job.
Loss of Face
[harshly admonishing someone in front of a group]
Passive Aggressive
Most people thought your presentation was awful but I thought it was good.
I think it's great that you're trying to get a promotion.
Petty Authoritarianism
You have violated the rules of the coffee room.
Playing a Victim
When you are late for meetings you are disrespecting me and causing me to feel stress.
Oh that's brilliant.
I completed and submitted your work because I figured you wouldn't do it.
Smug (complacent criticism of those who take risks and try)
I told you but you wouldn't listen.
Sounding Like a Know-it-all
I will have to show you how to do it.
Toxic Positivity
Your performance is unacceptably low so we have decided to terminate your employment. This could be a great opportunity for you to grow as a person.
Needless Subjectivity (making it about you when there is an opportunity to be objective)
I noticed that you are always late.
Trying to Socially Isolate Someone
Everyone says you're always late for their meetings.
Unfair Pessimism
I just don't think you can do it.
I know your kid was in hospital last week but your productivity really dropped for a few days there.

Counter Examples

The following are examples of negative feedback with counterexamples that include critical, positive and pragmatic feedback.
Constructive / Positive / Pragmatic
You always make me work late.
I'm taking a night class and have family responsibilities in the evening so I have to leave work promptly at 5 from now on.
Your handwriting is terrible.
I'm having trouble reading your writing [active silence to wait for a proposal that will resolve the situation].
You should have resolved this issue weeks ago.
It's been a few weeks now and we have gotten to the point where this issue needs to be resolved today or we will need to report the reason for the delay to the project board. I'd really appreciate your support on this.
Why am I always the one who needs to clean your mess?
Can we come up with a rule or schedule for who cleans the kitchen?
There is a fine line between constructive criticism and toxic positivity whereby making negative information too positive can be counterproductive.
Overview: Negative Feedback
Feedback that is accusatory, combative, insulting, harsh or overly critical for the situation.
Related Concepts

Constructive Criticism

This is the complete list of articles we have written about constructive criticism.
Direct Communication
Nudge Theory
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