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Guidelines For Giving And Receiving Feedback

by David Brock on March 13th, 2008
Feedback is critical in developing powerful relationships and in effective communication. My experience is that most of us are poor at giving and receiving feedback. An incident with one of our clients in just the past few days—one which both the client and we handled poorly caused me to think about how to be more effective both in giving and receiving feedback.

A close friend and colleague, Dr. George Lehner, developed these guidelines a number of years ago. They hold up, they are tough to execute consistently, but doing so makes each of us better. I’ll share just a short summary of George’s guidelines. If you want more detail, feel free to contact me.

  • Focus feedback on behavior rather than the person.
  • Focus feedback on observations rather than inferences.
  • Focus feedback on description rather than judgment.
  • Focus feedback on descriptions of behavior which are in terms of “more or less” rather than in terms of “either-or.”
  • Focus feedback on behavior related to a specific situation, preferably to the “here and now,” rather than to behavior in the abstract, which places it in the “there and then.”
  • Focus feedback on the sharing of ideas and information, rather than on giving advice.
  • Focus feedback on the exploration of alternatives, rather than answers or solutions.
  • Focus feedback on the value it may provide for the recipient, rather than the value or “release” it provides the person giving the feedback.
  • Focus feedback in the amount of information that the person receiving it can user, rather than on the amount that you have which you might like to give.
  • Focus feedback in time and place, so that personal data can be shared at appropriate times.
  • Focus feedback on what is said rather than why it is said.
Giving and receiving feedback requires courage, skill, understanding, and respect for self and others.

From → Leadership

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