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Giving and Receiving Feedback

Giving Constructive Feedback Diagram

Giving Constructive Feedback Diagram

We’re often reluctant to give feedback or, as some might say, ‘constructive criticism’. Sometimes it’s because we’re concerned about hurting the other person’s feelings. But even if we don’t deliver our feedback in words, our behavior tends to give the game away -a critical look or avoiding contact for example. The difficulty then is that the other person knows you disapprove but doesn’t know why or what to do about it. So rather than hinting or hoping the other person picks up clues, it’s better to be clear and express your feedback in full.

In many feedback conversations, it is extremely easy for the conversation to end up being something of a debate and thereby losing the core reason for the feedback. The key to avoiding this is to look for a straight-forward way to get the facts across simply and then having a more balanced discussion in which both parties are offering comments and input. In this sense, feedback should be thought of as a way of inviting people to explore the unwanted or sub-optimal behavior and see for themselves what needs to be done. One very useful mechanism to use, described in the feedback diagram above, is to use the 5-step “Instant feedback formula”.  An example of this might run as follows:

  1. When you interrupt other people regularly in meetings when they ask questions of you, they often can’t give you all the information they have to share.
  2. I feel their frustration sometimes at not being given the chance to finish what they are saying.
  3. Because I know they can often save you a lot of time and give you the information you need, we need to change your approach if possible.
  4. What I imagine is that you think the people asking you questions haven’t followed your presentation or your expressed thoughts, so you interrupt them before they are finished to explain again (when it may not what their question is about).
  5. What I’d prefer you do in the future is to let people in meetings that ask you questions to finish speaking, and carefully consider their points before responding. If we try this in the net couple of meetings we can see if this is a better approach and if not discuss why? I thinking everyone will appreciate your effort to make this small adjustment-what do you think?

With this formula the core feedback message is delivered succinctly before the invitation to discuss is made. This means that both parties are quickly focused on the issue at hand and what to do about it.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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