Book: Feedback That Works: How to Build and Deliver Your Message

FeedbackThatWorksA coworker recommended “Feedback That Works: How to Build and Deliver Your Message” by Sloan R. Weitzel. It’s a short read and here are my notes:
  • “Your feedback should enable the receiver to walk away understanding exactly what he or she did and what impact it had on you. When the result is this specific and this direct, there is a better chance that the person getting the feedback will be motivated to begin, continue, or stop behaviors that affect performance.”
  • Ten Common Mistakes in Giving Feedback
    • “The feedback judges individuals, not actions.”
    • “The feedback is too vague.”
    • “The feedback speaks for others.”
    • “Negative feedback gets sandwiched between positive messages.”
    • “The feedback is exaggerated with generalities.”
    • “The feedback psychoanalyzes the motives behind behavior.”
    • “The feedback goes on too long”
    • “The feedback contains an implied threat.”
    • “The feedback uses inappropriate humor.”
    • “The feedback is a question, not a statement.”
  • Situation
    • “The first step in giving effective feedback is to capture and clarify the specific situation in which the behavior occurred.”
    • “The more specifics and details you can use in brining the situation to mind, the clearer your message will be.”
  • Behavior
    • “Describing behavior is the second step to giving effective feedback.”
    • “The focus is on the actual behavior, not on a judgment as to what the behavior might mean. If you remember to use verbs when describing behavior, you avoid the mistake of judging behavior. By focusing on the action, not the impression, you can communicate clear facts that a person can understand and act on.”
    • “it is not only important to capture what is said or done but how it is said and done.”
      • “body language, tone of voice and speaking manner, and word choice.”
  • Delivery of feedback
    • “When you approach someone to offer feedback, user a phrase such as ‘May I share an observation with you?’ This open approach, in which you ask permission, can ease anxiety and set the scene for a conversation, not a confrontation.”
    • “say something positive, ask if the person understands what behavior you’re talking about, then stop talking and walk away. This positive approach can ease the fear many people have when they hear the word ‘feedback.’”
    • “Say something like ‘As I’m telling you this, I’m aware of how uncomfortable I am.’ A simple acknowledgment honors your experience and can minimize the perceived threat of the feedback experience from the receiver’s perspective.”
  • Impact
    • “The final step in giving effective feedback is to relay the impact that the person’s behavior had on you.”
    • “You can evaluate or make a judgment about the person’s behavior”
    • “You can acknowledge the emotional effect the person’s behavior had on you.”
    • “By communicating the personal impact a behavior has had on you, you are sharing a point of view and asking the other person to view that behavior from your perspective. That kind of sharing helps to build trust, which in turn can lead to even more effective feedback as communication is improved.”
    • Template: “’When you did (behavior), I felt (impact)’ or ‘When you said (behavior), I was (impact).’”
  • Traps to watch out for:
    • “If you back out of the feedback you give, the receiver will lose your message.”
    • “If you pull in your own experiences, you take ownership away from the feedback receiver.”
    • “If you pull in your own vulnerability, you presume to know what the receiver is experiencing or thinking.”
    • “If you fusion your feedback, you can put the receiver on the defensive and he or she will be less open to your message.”
    • “If you label your feedback, you can create undue anxiety and the receiver may not hear your entire message.”
    • “If you give advice with your feedback, the receiver may think you have a personal agenda.”
    • “If you label behavior as a problem, you put the receiver on the defensive and your message may not be heard.”
    • “If you don’t use words that precisely communicate your message, or are insensitive to the language that you use, you can cause unnecessary emotional reactions.”
    • “If you judge the person, not the behavior, the person hearing your feedback will likely become defensive and resentful.”
    • “If you delay in giving feedback, your memory of the event might not be clear enough to be specific, and the receiver might wonder why the conversation didn’t occur sooner.”
  • Do
    • “Be specific when recalling the situation.”
    • “Be specific when describing the behavior.”
    • “Acknowledge the impact of the behavior on you.”
    • “Judge the behavior.”
    • “Pay attention to body language”
    • “Use verbatim quotes.”
    • “Re-create the behavior, if appropriate.”
    • “Give your feedback, then stop talking.”
    • “Say ‘I felt’ or ‘I was’ to frame your impact statement.”
    • “Focus on a single message.”
    • “Be sensitive to the emotional impact of your feedback.”
  • Don’t
    • “Assume”
    • “Be vague.”
    • “Use accusations.”
    • “Judge the person.”
    • “Pass along vague feedback from others.”
    • “Give advice unless asked.”
    • “Psychoanalyze.”
    • “Qualify your feedback by backing out of the description.”
    • “Use examples from your own experience.”
    • “Generalize with words like ‘always’ or ‘never’”
    • “Label your feedback as positive or negative.”
    • “Sandwich your feedback messages with words like ‘but.’”

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