Feedback can have different degrees of granularity. Understanding this helps us seek out and provide more meaningful feedback.
We most often receive outcome feedback – on whether something went well or not. A customer leaving a five-star rating or an audience booing a speech is feedback of this kind. Outcome feedback is the coarsest kind. It has limited utility, for it only tells us whether our outcome are good or bad, without any further details.
The second type of feedback is informational feedback. This form of feedback tells us what specific aspects makes an outcome good or bad. Examples include a customer talking about how she liked the metallic finish on a laptop stand, or a member of the audience telling the speaker which part of his speech ticked them off.
The third type of feedback is corrective. Corrective feedback is fine-tuned. It not only pin-points a problem, but also tells you how to correct it. A linguist correcting the pronunciation of a word, or a designer suggesting an alternative packaging material for a product are all forms of corrective feedback. This feedback is rare. It only comes from teachers, experts and coaches.
Before you give or receive feedback, it is often helpful for the other person to know which of these three kinds you are looking for.