Three Kinds of Feedback

Learning Objectives

Describe the three kinds of feedback.

In their book Thanks for the Feedback, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen identify three primary kinds of feedback: appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. According to Stone and Heen, knowing which kind of feedback will be most helpful in a given situation is a key element in giving feedback well. Likewise, understanding which kind of feedback is being given can help you make the most of a feedback opportunity.

Appreciation feedback is mostly about relationships and connections. When your boss says, “I’m so glad you’re on the team!” That’s appreciation feedback.[1]

To Watch: steve kerr

In this video, we overhear Steve Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, give a master class in appreciation feedback as he talks to Warriors star Stephen Curry.

You can view the transcript for “Beautiful coaching moments between Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry!” here (opens in new window).

You use coaching feedback when you want to help someone improve, learn, or change.[2] Coaching feedback can come from all kinds of people in our lives, whether a trainer at the gym encouraging us to do one more pull-up or a partner in a relationship reminding us to put down the phone at the dinner table.

Evaluation feedback is a ranking, rating, or judgement of a person’s performance.[3] The grade you’ll get in this class is evaluation feedback. So is your performance review at work. Evaluation lets you know where you stand against a given set of standards or expectations. Sometimes, as in the case of a final grade, the evaluation is given after the fact, and it’s not possible to make adjustments to change the outcome. Other times, evaluation is given along with coaching feedback. When you turn in a midterm paper, for instance, the grade and comments you receive apply to your performance on that paper, but hopefully you can take what you learn from that feedback to do an even better job on the final.

  1. Heen, Sheila, and Stone, Douglas. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It Is Off Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You're Not in the Mood). United States, Penguin Books, 2015. 31.
  2. Heen and Stone, 32.
  3. Heen and Stone, 33.