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How to Write Peer Feedback [7 Effective Tips]

October 18, 2021
6 Min
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Rumi S Whipple

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It can often be very difficult to write effective peer feedback; being too harsh might risk upsetting your peer, while being too gentle is ineffective and will go nowhere. There are many things to remember when attempting to give peer feedback, so we suggest you follow these guidelines below when giving constructive feedback to a peer.

For those looking for more information on this subject, consider taking a look at our comprehensive guide to peer feedback.

1. Prepare ahead of time

Before giving peer feedback, it is important to prepare yourself. Write down what you want to say so there are no gaps in the conversation. Confirm with your manager that your peer is comfortable with receiving peer feedback and whether or not they would like to be present during the conversation. It is also helpful to speak with the employee beforehand about any sensitivities that may arise in the peer review process.

Create a safe space for them by telling them you will respect their concerns throughout peer feedback conversations and remind them that this step is an opportunity for improvement which can only lead to better performance at work.

2. Ask for permission

Ensure the peer feedback conversation is both wanted and necessary. Start by informing your peer that you would like to offer them some feedback. Describe that a peer assessment is meant to be helpful and positive, not offensive or harsh.

If they want to proceed with peer feedback, ask if there is anything they would like to address before moving forward with the peer review; this can help make sure you do not pass over any important information while going through the feedback process.

3. Be respectful

After receiving permission for peer feedback, it is important to use constructive criticism and approach it in a manner that demonstrates respect for your peer's feelings and opinions. Start by validating their concerns; let them know you understand what they are saying even if you disagree on certain topics.

If the peer you are giving peer feedback to seems unfazed by the conversation, remind them that this evaluation is meant to be helpful and allow them to ask questions or voice concerns.

4. Be very specific and clear

In order to give effective peer feedback, it's important to be very specific and clear when writing your peer feedback activity. Instead of making general statements about peer feedback, share instances of what their behavior has been like in work (descriptive language). Be sure to include where peer feedback occurred (e.g., workplace environment) with how often the peer provided peer feedback.

5. Be empathetic

After sharing peer feedback, it can help to say something like "I understand this may be difficult for you to hear". This can offer your peer some reassurance that if they are struggling with receiving peer feedback or have questions about the peer feedback received, you are there to listen and support them.

It is important to show empathy instead of sympathy during peer feedback conversations as empathy allows people to feel heard while still respecting the person giving peer feedback who may be making a personal sacrifice by giving up their time in order to improve workplace culture.

6. Keep the conversation two-sided

A peer should be able to freely ask questions or voice concerns regarding feedback given throughout the conversation without being interrupted. If peer feedback questions arise, encourage them to ask these types of questions in an appropriate setting (e.g., when they are not busy working). When allowing peer feedback questions, avoid asking for personal information.

If the peer asks about improving themselves with their peer reviewer, simply encourage their efforts without revealing too much information on how they can do this (e.g., be clear but don't outright tell them what habits they need to change). Constructive feedback certainly goes a long way when going through the peer feedback process.

7. Keep it positive

To end a peer feedback session, remind them that a peer review is meant to be helpful and ask if the peer would like to bring up any peer feedback they would like to receive from you. Expressing gratitude and respect throughout the peer feedback process will help ensure the peer receiving a peer review feels cared for, respected, and valued as a coworker.

Overall, a peer evaluation should be approached with care and caution to ensure they are educational and that peer feedback requests do not go ignored. The key to a good peer review session is to offer insightful and useful feedback while still remembering to stay positive and offer some constructive criticism.

If you found any value in this article, you should consider giving Matter a try; Matter is a free Slack app that encourages giving praise and constructive criticism to coworkers, and can help you give effective peer feedback. Try it out for free today.

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