“I Have Some Feedback for You” – Confidently Deliver Thoughtful and Actionable Feedback

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“I Have Some Feedback for You” – Confidently Deliver Thoughtful and Actionable Feedback

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“I have some feedback for you.”

Did your stomach just tighten? Adrenaline kicks up a notch. Your mind races to fill in the rest of the story.

Hearing or seeing these words may cause a high level of stress, whether you are the giver or receiver of feedback. Possibly, we’ve forgotten that the intention of feedback is about growth, development, being more efficient, more productive, and maybe even happier.

In this article, you’ll find some ways to get past the awkwardness and start feeling confident to deliver actionable feedback that is thoughtful and clear.

Recommended training from HRDQ-U

What Artificial Intelligence Can’t Do, Human Intelligence Can

Here are some stats to help you feel motivated that actionable feedback is beneficial:

  • 30% more engaged workers when managers give feedback
  • 90% of millennials want frequent candid feedback (when done right)


Most people want to grow and be more efficient, productive, and happier and would welcome actionable feedback to get there. The challenge is that we’ve all had those ‘can we talk’ types of feedback that felt focused on our personality flaws rather than improvements in our processes.

When giving feedback, it’s not what you say; people get defensive because of why they think you’re saying it.

What’s the intention behind your words? Are you too task-focused?

Start Here:

Am I clear on my motive?

Think of this example:

Chris, who is on your team, has been doing what you feel is the minimum of what’s being asked. You have been waiting for their PowerPoint to be delivered again. The past versions have lacked details, and you’ve given notes that they need more facts. Of course, you also secretly hope they take your notes and delight you with the next version. This, unfortunately, does not happen. You’re now frustrated and decide it’s time for feedback.

Ask Yourself:

What is my motive for giving feedback?

You’ve set yourself and Chris up for feedback failure if you let your frustrations be your guide. When that happens, your words, tone of voice, body language, and choice of words are influenced by your emotion – frustration. This leads to an unconscious intention to possibly make Chris feel smaller.

Re-Write the Script:

Change your motive.

Set up the feedback for success. Your intention NOW is to help Chris grow – to focus on the future and not the past. Be curious, not assumptive.

How confident is Chris to take the lead on the PowerPoint? Is he being cautious to not overstep? Did he fully understand the directions? Does he know how much freedom he has to be creative?

When you are clear on your intentions, you are answering their ‘Why are they giving me this feedback?’ inner talk. If Chris has feedback that is focused on a mutual purpose and keeps his goals in mind, he will be more open to receiving it now and in the future.

We tend to react to events emotionally first and then use logic to substantiate them. If you set a safe climate to give actionable feedback and make your why clear to the other person, their temperature lowers, their stomach untightens, and they can hear the logic behind the emotions.

As the book Getting To Yes says, Separate the people from the problem. Picture sitting side by side with the person and looking at the problem together, as opposed to taking sides.

Set a Precedent for Feedback:

Try giving positive, actionable feedback without saying “but.”

92% of employees agree that when they’re recognized for a specific action, they’re more likely to take that action again in the future. Giving genuine recognition is important feedback. It’s more than a high five, which is nice but short-lived.

Try Using This Thought:

“Chris, you did . . . well, because . . .”

It’s the ‘because’ that’s important here, showing the effect their action had. You will also be releasing their oxytocin – the neurotransmitter linked to warm, fuzzy feelings and includes trust, empathy, positive memories, a bonding cue, and positive communication.

That’s what’s going to stick and make the behavior repeatable.

In my upcoming HRDQ-U webinar, “What Artificial Intelligence Can’t Do, Human Intelligence Can,” we will take a closer look at communicating feedback that is clear on intention and see how you can help yourself and others build that awareness.

Start with a clear intention that is focused on the person’s growth, not just the task. Focus on the process, not their personality. Choose to listen with the intention of making the other person feel bigger, not smaller. When they feel heard and understood, they will hear your questions and statements. You’ve got thoughtful and actionable feedback.

Joel Silverstone Headshot
Joel Silverstone

Joel Silverstone is the Senior Professional Skills Facilitator & Coach at The Great Canadian Training & Consulting company. He brings 20 years of expertise helping participants build their interpersonal skills and communicate effectively. Presenting to Fortune 500 companies and thousands globally, Joel tries to bring his “HI” to those sessions focusing on influencing skills, techniques used by actors, and the use of emotional intelligence awareness and strategies. You can listen to or watch Joel as the host of “The Great Canadian Leadership Podcast,” and also on YouTube interviewing leaders and experts on influencing and communications skills.

Connect with Joel on LinkedIn, Twitter and at www.greatcanadiantraining.ca/.

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