What does your feedback say about you?

How do you give feedback?

Businesses without a strong feedback culture miss opportunities to grow and improve but believing feedback is important is not enough. Great leaders use feedback to develop performance and choose language carefully to inspire the results they want in the future.

Consider this example:

A team member sent an email to a client without correcting the spelling. As you were cc’d, you noticed this. Which if the following would you choose when speaking to them:

  1. You should have used a spell check.
  2. Why didn’t you use a spell check?
  3. Next time, let’s use a spell check.

Learning point

  • ‘You should have…’ criticises. It shows that I can see the mistake but you couldn’t. It says ‘I’m better than you’.
  • ‘Why didn’t you…’ accuses. It says they don’t care and questions their commitment. Do you never make mistakes?
  • ‘Next time…’ inspires. It shows understanding and sets higher expectations at the same time.


ARP Analyse – Revise – Perform


Listen to yourself

  • Do you focus on past mistakes in feedback?
  • Do you order change rather than inspiring it?


If you hear yourself saying:

  • You should have…
  • Why didn’t you…?


  • Next time…
  • Let’s… in the future


When giving feedback:

  • Look for what people can learn from the situation.
  • Focus on how to improve in the future.
  • Talk about the next time, not the last time.

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