A great way to kick off giving feedback

In an earlier blog I wrote about the importance of seeking feedback for your development. It’s also helpful to know how best to give feedback to those you lead.

The feedback sandwich, in which the area for development is sandwiched in between praise doesn’t work so well. You can seem disingenuous. Or people can dismiss the constructive criticism and only hear the praise as reinforcement of them doing a good job. Or people can solely focus on the criticism dismissing the praise which you also wanted them to hear.

You can never fully control how someone is going to respond to your feedback but you can try to maximise the chances of a successful developmental conversation.

A study by psychologists at Stanford, Columbia, and Yale found that 19 words used in feedback conversations had a dramatic effect in boosting performance and effort.


I am giving you these comments because I have high expectations and I know that you can reach them.


Dan Pink in his Pinkcast argues that it works because:

1) It builds trust

2) It signals that they belong. This group is special and you are part of this group.

3) It combines high standards with a belief that people can reach those standards.

We are in essence social beings and belonging is one of our primary drives. The feedback provides a vital cue about the relationship. The person receives a crystal clear, authentic, signal of social trust, belonging, and high expectations and their brains respond. There was a 40% increase by white American students in efforts to rewrite an essay, and a 320% increase in efforts African American students to rewrite their essay!

What a powerful and affirming way to influence someone’s behaviour for the better and have the change be intrinsically motivated. You belong and I believe you can do great things.

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