Recently, I have experienced some great examples of giving feedback…and some not so good instances! So this week, I thought I’d share some useful techniques we can all use when giving feedback.

  1. Open-Ended Questions – to encourage the person to give more detail and elaborate. Use words like: What? How? Who? Tell me? Avoid closed questions when you are trying to get more information from someone. Avoid words like: Do you? Did you? Have you? Also be careful when you use the word “Why“. The person may think that you are blaming them, disagreeing with them or being critical if you use it.
  2. Reflecting Back – put into your own words what the other person has said to reflect it back. This is called paraphrasing and by doing this it shows that you are listening and more importantly that you are listening and understanding! For example:

    Individual – “I always seem to get the rough end of the stick – no-one listens to me at all.
    You – “You seem concerned that no-one listens to you and that you seem to be getting a dumb deal.
  3. Maintaining Silence – to encourage the person to take their time. Always give the other person time to think through their reply to a challenging answer. Do not feel uncomfortable about silences but do be wary that silence can make people feel very uncomfortable. Maintain eye contact and demonstrate an interest.

  4. Summarising – to ensure that you have heard correctly and understood from his / her perspective. Restate the key aspects of the feedback and focus on planning for the future. For example, “The three major issues you raised were…” or “To summarise then….

  5. Being Sensitive – to the needs of the person. This is important as he / she may reject the feedback initially. Give the person space to think in his / her time. This may help the person to absorb the feedback

  6. Initiating Action and Offering Ideas – to offer ideas without forcing your personal opinion. For example, “Can you think of an action that would help build on your skills in this area?” or “One thing you might do is…” or “Have you thought about…” or “Your options include…

  7. Gaining Ownership – to integrate the feedback into their own experience. Link the feedback as much as possible to business results and objectives – this will help increase ownership. Any change in behaviour will only occur through acceptance and ownership of the feedback by that person.
Perhaps you can have a go with these techniques the next time you give feedback to one of your team.