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  • philhutchinson

How do you give “constructive” feedback?

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Is your feedback heard, understood, accepted and acted upon? If not, it isn’t effective. Fear not, Saint Phil is here to help!

Effective feedback is a win/win conversation not an emotional attack which creates counter attack, defensiveness or complete abstraction; none of which will produce win/win results for both parties.

If you want the recipient of your observations to accept what you’re saying, understand the impact and then do something about it, you can follow these 5 simple steps to make your feedback saintly!

You must make sure you are…

1) Specific as possible with examples of when you have seen the… 2) Actions or behaviours you have observed, (never personality) then explain the… 3) Impact or effect those actions are having, with some thoughts and ideas for the… 4) Next steps required to move this forward. Picking the right… 5) Time and place are crucial components to effective delivery.

If you can’t tick these steps off, you shouldn’t proceed with your feedback. For example, if you can’t describe specific actions or behaviours then you run the risk of this being taken as a personality attack (see paragraph 2!)

If you can’t say when you saw this, then you run the risk of it being incorrect 2nd or 3rd hand information - do your homework and find your own truth!

Saying things like “when you do === it makes me feel ===” or “when you did === it caused the others to ===" helps the recipient to understand which is key to acceptance.

Supportive or constructive advice may also be offered if you want to encourage changes in behaviour and picking the right time and place goes without saying!

Don’t fall back on bad practice like sandwiching unsavoury feedback with fluff pieces of good news because the good will be instantly forgotten as our stress response focuses in on the bad! Don’t con yourself into thinking truth gives you an excuse to say what you like however you like it and don’t pretend that you have no time.

Just remember how you felt when someone gave you badly considered feedback and put a little time and effort into your preparation – trust me, the returns on your investment will make it more than worthwhile.

Good luck and hope this helps!


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