Published originally on Attorney at Work

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I bet most of us heard this phrase at least once from our parents. My mom had it down to a look. The problem with that kind of thinking, though, is that it makes us uncomfortable giving good feedback — or any feedback at all.

There you are, a successful law firm owner, stuck between being a kind person and giving your employees the feedback they need to do a better job. You want better performance and to help them grow, but you don’t want to say something to distress or hurt them. You fear that if your feedback frustrates them, things could deteriorate even further.

What’s a law firm leader to do?

Let’s Redefine ‘Feedback’

We all know the cultural meaning of feedback. Is feedback ever good? If it were, it would be called a compliment, right?

Feedback is defined by Google dictionary as:

“Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance, task, etc., which is used as a basis for improvement.”

Interesting. That definition isn’t what I expected. Have you ever received feedback that was information about reactions to your performance? Me neither. The feedback I’ve received came as a declaratory statement about performance without much discussion on best practices for change.

Let’s redefine feedback and the way we approach giving it.

Conventional Feedback versus Observational Feedback

Feedback is the fastest, least expensive way to change behavior quickly in the workplace.

Conventional feedback calls for the “compliment sandwich” method.

Continue reading


Dina Lynch Eisenberg, JD, is the CEO of, an outsourcing training/consulting firm for successful lawyers and entrepreneurs based in Oakland, CA.

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