How to strengthen your feedback to create powerful teams?

Koos Vos
Dec 16, 2021

In his latest book (The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups) Daniel Coyle states that sharing vulnerability, building safety and establishing purpose are fundamental behaviors of successful leaders and groups. They can lead to sustainable change and contribute to better innovation and problem-solving. The basis for this are open and honest interactions.

How can you make your interactions with team members more powerful? To support you on this, I have listed 5 practical tips, taken from the book “Verbindend Vermogen” (The Ability to Connect) from Marco Buschman (Courius Consultancy, The Netherlands).

#Tip 1: Use the word ‘and’ in your feedback

Some words in our language have a huge impact on the effectiveness of our interactions. For example, if you say: "You did a great job, but I didn’t like the layout of the report." the focus comes on the second part of the sentence. Your comment is easily perceived as a negative judgment. Or as the English say "Everything before ’but’ is a lie." To establish positive connections, it is more powerful to use 'and'. '’You have done an excellent job and if you let me, I would like to give you a tip for the layout.'’ Far more positive and helpful.

#Tip 2: From generalizations to personal viewpoints

When you communicate about things that could be done differently, it is better to avoid generalizations like “We don’t listen to each other” or “We are not always transparent”. The more you are able to communicate in the I-form, the more obvious it is what you feel or think. “I know that I am not always being transparent” or “I am aware that I don’t always speak to everyone” is a clear statement. Moreover, you take responsibility for what’s happening and you increase the change that other people will connect with you. 

#Tip 3: Ask for the intention behind the behavior

Within teams irritations can arise because others exhibit behavior that you do not find acceptable. For example, a co-worker keeps coming back to you to get your agreement on the next step in the project. You could ask your co-worker not to interrupt you anymore with those questions and take responsibility. It could be more powerful to ask for his/her intention. For example: "What is the reason that you want to check the next steps with me?" This way you can discover the motivation of this person and find a solution that will satisfy both. 

#Tip 4: From general to specific

Good feedback contributes to the growth of the other. Unfortunately, a sentence like “You have done well” does not really help. It is too general and the other person probably doesn’t know what you mean with ‘good'? It is more powerful to indicate specifically what you have observed. For example: "Your report on yesterday's incident is factual and clear. That gives confidence and supported me to defend our project firmly."

#Tip 5: From compliment to recognition

When compliments are given, they often deal with the result achieved. For example: "It's great that we managed to finish the first part today." These compliments are important. It is important that you keep giving them special care and make sure they are sincere. However, what is even more powerful and comes directly to the heart is recognition. You can do this by explicitly mentioning the qualities that you see in the other person. For example, "You are trustworthy" or "I find you very sincere." Recognition goes beyond compliments and connects on a deeper level. 

Please, let me know if you have more tips to strengthen your interactions on a daily basis.

Koos Vos
The author
Koos Vos

Koos is a strategic consultant focused on experiential learning at the individual, team and organizational levels. Drawing from his career as an actor and acting coach, Koos takes an unconventional approach to his training to develop the TRIP physical coaching model. Outside of Yellow, Koos is an associate professor at both EADA and IESE Business Schools in Barcelona.

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