Useful techniques for giving feedback

Last week I highlighted the main principles of giving feedback, now let’s look at some useful techniques we can use in feedback sessions:

Open-ended questioning
Use open-ended questions to allow and encourage the person to give more detail and elaborate.

Use words like:
Tell me?

Avoid closed questions when you are trying to get more information from someone.
Avoid words like:
Do you?
Did you?
Have you?

Also be careful when you use the word “Why”. The person may think that you are blaming them or being critical if you use it. They may think that you disagree with them if you use this word.

Reflecting Back
This is about putting what the other person has said into your own words and reflecting it back. This is called paraphrasing and by doing this it shows that you are listening and more importantly that you are listening and understanding!

For example:
Individual – “I always seem to get the rough end of the stick – no-one listens to me at all……..”

You – “You seem concerned that no-one listens to you and that you seem to be getting a raw deal”

Maintaining Silence
Encourage the person to take their time. Always give the other person time to think through their reply to a challenging answer. Do not feel uncomfortable about silences but do be wary that silence can make people feel very uncomfortable.

Maintain eye contact and demonstrate an interest.

Summarise the output of the meeting and action plan to ensure that you have heard correctly and understood from his/her perspective.

Restate the key aspects of the feedback discussion

Conclude the discussion and focus on planning for the future.

Example: “The three major issues you raised were……”
“To summarise then……”

Being Sensitive
Acting sensitive to the needs of the person is important as they may reject the feedback initially. Give the person space to think in his/her time. This may help the person to absorb the feedback

Initiating Action and Offering Ideas

“Can you think of an action that would help build on your skills in this area?”

Offer ideas without forcing your personal opinion.
“One thing you might do is….”
“Have you thought about……..”
“Your options include………..”
“What can I do to help?”

Gaining Ownership
Help the person to integrate the feedback into their own experience and view of themselves. Link the feedback as much as possible to business results and objectives – this will help increase ownership.

Any change in behaviour will only occur through acceptance and ownership of then feedback by that person.

Receiving Feedback
As long as feedback is given in a non-judgmental and appropriate way, it is a valuable piece of information for learning and for our continued development as a person.

Constructive feedback is critical for self-development and growth; here are some points to bear in mind when you receive feedback.

1. Don’t shy away from constructive feedback, welcome it
2. Accept feedback of any sort for what it is – information
3. Evaluate the feedback before responding
4. Make your own choice about what you intend to do with the information

The feedback emotional rollercoaster
Whether you are giving or receiving feedback it is useful to bear in mind the following model when it comes to people who receive feedback.

When people first receive feedback, they have a tendency to deny it. Please avoid immediate defensiveness – arguing, denying and justifying. This just gets in the way of your appreciation of the information you are being given.

After the denial stage comes anger! So you’ve been told that your work is not as good as what it ought to be. You’ve said, “It’s as good as always” so you are denying it then you become angry as it stews in your mind and body. The immediate reaction is to fume!

After the anger has calmed down, the person has had time to reflect and ponder on the feedback. “Well, I have been making more mistakes then normal” This is when time is taken out to mull over the feedback and think about what it actually means.

The final part of this model is finally accepting the feedback, assessing its value and the consequences of ignoring it, or using it. “I have been making mistakes”.

For more information about us, contact Liz Kentish, The FM Coach on Tel: 01778 561326 / 07717 870777 or email:

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