Interestingly, I’ve come across a a fair number of people recently who don’t seem to be able to hand out a compliment when someone does something right. Even worse, during a recent social event a postdoc told me that it was really hard to tell whether his boss was happy with his work. He asked for more feedback, upon which his boss allegedly told him not to worry about it, that he would let him know if the guy did something wrong.
I mean, really?
All I’m writing here is personal opinion, but I am pretty sure you could find literature to support the statement that positive feedback is rather important too. Just let people know when you think they’re doing a good job, doesn’t hurt you and will make them happy! And happy employees are more productive employees…
If you have something negative to say, by all means, go ahead. I love getting comments because that is how you improve. The important thing here is how you do that. The golden rule is to first start a conversation on a positive note, say for example you really enjoyed the presentation. Then come in with whatever you want to comment on, for example tell them to give a bit more introduction next talk so people will be able to better understand it.
Make it constructive. Don’t just say “that talk was really rubbish”, but give them something to work with. Tell them how they can improve. I think some people here in the UK are really too polite, or for whatever reason too reluctant to really speak their mind, but even your boss should be open to your comments if you bring things up in a good way.
On the other hand: receiving feedback can be difficult at times too. Important thing here is to regard it as something positive. Apparently there is something you can do better next time! The person who gave you feedback is helping you grow as a person, which is good!
By the way – when talking about positive feedback. Do it. But keep it professional. On the work floor, hand out compliments about work related things. Keep the chatter about looks for the breaks – if at all.