When giving critical feedback, it is important to deliver the message in a way that sticks and will result in behavior change but does not feel like an attack to the person on the receiving end. This can be tricky to achieve, but I have found one resource that has been helpful to me, and I feel like it will be helpful to you as well. “Feedback That Works” is a guidebook by Sloan R. Weitzel that outlines steps to take to deliver effective feedback within a framework called the SBI Technique. SBI stands for “Situation – Behavior – Impact” and is a simple, direct and effective way to deliver feedback. By focusing on these three parts, you can improve the impact of your feedback messages.
The 3 Components of Effective Feedback: Situation, Behavior & Impact
- Situation: Be specific about what the setting in which the behavior was observed. This give the recipient context into the action you are speaking of and also helps them remember specifically what you are discussing. For example: “On Monday, during our weekly status meeting…” vs. “A couple of days ago, when we were in the break room…”
- Behavior: Behavior can be described by observing body language, tone of voice and speaking manner, and word choice. Be specific about the actual action, not how it was interpreted by you or others. Use verbs instead of adjectives. For example: “You spoke over Bob several times during the meeting” vs. “You were very rude during the meeting”
- Impact: This isn’t an opportunity to tell the person how their behavior will affect others or the company. Instead, you should communicate the personal impact the person’s behavior had on you. This type of message is hard to dismiss, since it is your personal experience. For example: “When you did X, I felt Y”.
In addition to including these three components within your message, there are a few tips to increase the effectiveness of your feedback. Here are a few:
- Don’t be judgmental to the person – judge the actions. Puts people in defensive position, so you end up having to defend yourself, and your original message is lost.
- Your message should be specific – describe specific behaviors instead of general statements such as “You’re a hard worker…”.
- Don’t include an implied threat with your message.
- Don’t speak for others – “Bob said that you…”
- When approaching the person, use an open approach – ask for permission to share an observation.
Photo by Michael Pollak