n this article, I’m going to continue on the topic of communication and talk about a simple framework you can use to give and receive feedback. I find that having a framework helps because most people don’t love giving or receiving feedback. Although feedback can be positive, it tends to either be negative or perceived as negative. Also- there are quite a few ways that feedback can be ineffective. Here are the top ten feedback offenses according to the Center for Creative Leadership:
- The feedback judges the individual, rather than their behavior.
- The behavior component of the feedback is too vague.
- The feedback speaks for others.
- Negative feedback gets sandwiched between positive feedback.
- The feedback is exaggerated with generalities.
- It analyzes the motives behind the behavior.
- The feedback goes on too long.
- The feedback contains an implied consequence or threat.
- It uses humor in an unhelpful way, and
- The feedback is a question instead of a statement.
So, if that list is what not to do, how do you give effective feedback?
The framework I really like is called the S-B-I Model and was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership. S-B-I stands for Situation- Behavior- Impact.
The first part of this model is the Situation. When providing feedback, it is important to orient the person you’re speaking with to the specific situation. For example- Yesterday at lunch…, or On Monday, after the sales meeting…, etc… This is important because it directs the attention to the specific point in time that the behavior occurred.
The second part of the model is Behavior. What was the specific and observable behavior that occurred that you are giving feedback on? It is critical that the feedback be specific to a behavior. This can be something that was done or said, but it has to be observable and objective. Avoid making assumptions about why a behavior may have occurred.
The third and final component is Impact. What was the specific impact of the behavior on you / the team? For this, using “I” instead of “you” is important because you are sharing the impact their behavior had on you or the other people involved in the situation.
Here is an example of feedback using the entire S-B-I model in a business environment: “Yesterday, during the presentation at the sales meeting (situation), the calculations you provided for the monthly projections were inaccurate (behavior). I was embarrassed because our regional director was there and I’m worried that her confidence in our numbers will be lower (impact).”
The beauty of this model is that it helps to mitigate any potential arguments. By focusing on observable behavior and how that behavior impacted you, it virtually eliminates the ability for the individual receiving the feedback to argue. They can’t argue with a specific behavior that anyone could have observed. And they can’t argue with how you felt about the behavior.
There will also be times when you receive ineffective feedback. You can use this model to elicit feedback from others that you can actually use to improve.
The last thing I will mention about giving feedback is to consider the timing. I mentioned this in the previous article on supportive communication, but I think it is worth saying again. When someone is in a negative emotional state, giving feedback that they can consider to be negative, is not going to be as effective as waiting until they are in a positive, or at least a neutral state. So, if possible, wait until they are in a better place to receive the feedback and are able to process and use it.
I challenge you to apply this model in your life by building your relationship “bank accounts” but do it using this model. Maybe you point out something that your significant other did and the impact it had on you. Or maybe you notice something a co-worker did and you use this model to share its positive impact on you. I would love to hear about your experiences with this model and welcome your feedback in the comments below.
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