The Unique and Mysterious Art of Feedback

This week I want to begin a two part series on feedback.  Communication impacts a very good amount of our professional lives.  Conversations that are difficult can ultimately help shape our professional lives in a very positive way.  Upon reflection, some of the more challenging conversations I have had, whether personally or professionally, have ended up changing my life for the better.  For the first part of this two part series I want to focus on how to give quality feedback and next week I will elucidate how to receive feedback.

The Unique and Mysterious Art of Feedback:

How to Give Quality Feedback

As a leader it’s imperative for us to give feedback to our direct reports.  Through this process we will be able to help them become more efficient at netting the results our teams need to be effective.

Make your feedback concrete.

Feedback must be actionable. Saying, “You don’t seem interested in your work” isn’t nearly as helpful as saying something specific about the individual’s action that results from that behavior.  

Focus on behavior

We should only comment on a person’s behavior, it should be on a specific situation, preferably to the “here and now,” rather than to behavior in the abstract, which places it in the “there and then.”

Allow enough time for a response to your feedback.

The whole point of giving feedback is to provide a perspective which the person receiving it doesn’t have.  Though their deficiency may seem obvious to you and you may have a hard time imagining they aren’t already aware of their behavior, often the individual isn’t aware at all. Everyone deserves a chance to improve — and how can they do so if they don’t first know what improvement they need to make?


When giving feedback the SBI Model is a model I’ve found the most success with defusing a tense situation while conveying needed information to the individual.


Describe the situation where the observed behavior occurred.  The more specific you can be about the where and when, the better.


Help the individual understand exactly the behavior you’re talking about.  Think of playing back the scenario in your mind first and then describing verbally, to the individual their behavior – essentially your reviewing it in your mind before you talk to them about it.  An addendum to this is to avoid judgments such as, “You weren’t listening to me.”  Instead simply describe the individual’s behavior.


Share with the individual the impact of the behavior on you and/or on others who were present.  Impact is what you or others experienced.  Essentially you’re making your internal experience known to the person.


Giving feedback requires courage, skill, and respect for others.

Feedback must be done in a manner that is proper and effective and if it’s not, it’s ineffective and won’t help you get to where you want to go.  To become the leader you want to be and to get your team to net the results your organization demands of you – giving feedback is key.


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