Managing People: How to Give Feedback Using a 5-Step Verbal Template

Have you ever given feedback at work only to find it created tension?  Or do you sometimes find yourself holding back what you’d really like to say for fear it won’t be well-received?

If you observe unacceptable behaviour it can be tricky finding just the right words to comment on the behaviour while not criticising the person.

Don’t just blurt something out. Plan the best words to use.

Here’s a 5-step verbal template to help you communicate feedback in a positive and assertive manner, that is neither aggressive nor too passive.

1. Describe the facts of the situation by starting with:

‘When you [describe the observable behaviour] . . .’

2. Express how you feel about it with:

‘. . . I feel [express the specific feeling] . . . ‘

3. Explain its impact:

‘. . . and the effect is [explain the specific impact] . . . ‘

4. Then ask for the new behaviour:

‘. . . Instead, what I’d like to see is [ask for the new behaviour].’

5. You might like to finish by asking for their thoughts:

‘. . . This is important to me; what do you think?’

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By phrasing your communication in this 5-step manner, you will achieve better outcomes.

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Here’s an example of how it could go:

‘When you [came late to the meeting] I felt [annoyed] And the effect is [we spent time repeating information the rest of us had already heard.] Instead, what I’d like to see is [you arriving on time in future.] This is important to me; what do you think?’

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This template is just as effective for giving positive feedback. Turn it around by changing step 4 to reinforcing the current desirable behaviour, rather than suggesting a preferred new behaviour.

For example:

‘When you [did such a thorough job in preparing for the meeting] I felt [proud of your efforts.[
And the effect is [the client quickly agreed to our proposal.] I look forward to seeing [more work like this from you in other situations.]’

Action Summary

1. Rehearse giving feedback using this verbal template so you are fluent and natural before using it in real situations.

2. Give frequent daily feedback using this template til it’s second nature. Consider the benefit of frequent, useful feedback on your business culture.

3. Use this as well in life in general, with your spouse, your children, and your friends.

Are you looking for an inspiring, entertaining and transformational Leadership Development workshop (or speaker for your next event)? Contact us to discuss how we can help you ignite your team’s service performance, or visit our Leadership Development training web page.

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