My new favorite feedback template

The Manager’s Handbook has a great template for giving feedback:

When you do [specific action], I feel [emotion] because the story in my head is [fear].

I love the tip they include about how [specific action] should be factual: “it should be something that a camera would record.”

Here’s a made up example:

When you look back and forth at your other monitor during our 1-1s, I feel neglected because the story in my head is that you’re multitasking because you don’t think I deserve your full attention.

Then wait for a response. Make them feel heard by paraphrasing it back to them. And end with a request:

“My request is [request]. Can you do that for me?

The clarity of that request makes it really tough for them to not hear you. Remember Critter’s razor?

Never attribute to apathy that which can be adequately explained by deafness.

Critter’s razor

A long time ago I wrote about five second feedback, which is the template I’ve been using for a while. But I like this better. The magical phrase “the story in my head” keeps them from feeling attacked and getting defensive. My friend Joe calls that a Reflection Stance:

Rather than assigning blame with “the way you acted was bad and you should stop”, you hit them with “It is important to me that I be transparent with you about what came to mind in our last meeting when you said XYZ” followed with… you know… what came to mind.

Did you feel condescended upon? Did you feel awkward or cringe? Were you fearful of the way the company looked after? Notice how none of these assign blame, but RATHER reflect your honest state of mind at the time.

Joe Still

This all works for positive feedback too.

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