Feedback Success

Dynamic communication skills are one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to master three skills: 1) conversation skills; 2) writing skills; and 3) presenting skills.

The other day, I came across a great eBook that can help you develop your conversation skills.  It’s called, The Seven Challenges Workbook: Cooperative Communication Skills for Success at Home and Work.  Written by Dennis Rivers , this handy guide describes seven challenges we all face when it comes to conversation skills, explains how to successfully meet these challenges and provides exercises to help you master each of the challenges.  You can download a free copy at

The Seven Challenges are:

1. Listening more carefully and responsively
2. Explaining your conversational intent and inviting consent
3. Expressing yourself more clearly and completely
4. Translating complaints and criticisms into requests
5. Asking questions more open-endedly and more creatively
6. Expressing more appreciation
7. Making responding to the first six challenges an important part of your everyday life

If you can master these seven challenges you will become a better conversationalist.

I am particularly fond of Challenge 4 – Translating complaints and criticisms into requests.  It provides some great information on how to do a better job of giving feedback.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t respond well to criticism; and a lot of feedback comes across as criticism.  Most of us don’t respond well to criticism – whether real or imagined. 

Dennis has some great stuff to say about how to frame comments in a manner that are less likely come across as criticism and to result in defensiveness.  He suggests avoiding focusing on the past, to focus on the future by framing your comments around what you would like the other person to do differently in an similar situation in the future…

“Focus on the actions you want to take and the actions you want others to take in the present and in the future…Use verbs and adverbs such as ‘meet our deadlines regularly.’  Avoid nouns and adjectives such as ‘slow worker’ or ‘bad team player.’”

This is great advice.  It’s always a good idea to make sure that your feedback doesn’t seem like name calling.  Dennis provides an easy way to avoid name calling.  He uses parts of speech to make his point.  It’s very simple.  Verbs and adverbs are good when giving feedback.  They help you express what you would like to see another person do differently.  Nouns and adjectives are not so good when giving feedback.  They come across as name calling.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are dynamic communicators.  Dynamic communicators are excellent conversationalists.  Excellent conversationalists provide feedback in a non judgmental manner.  They focus on what they would like to see another person do differently instead of ascribing certain qualities to him or her.  The best way to do this is to use verbs and adverbs and avoid nouns and adjectives.

That’s my take on how to provide feedback effectively.  What’s yours?  Please take a few minutes and leave a comment on your experiences with feedback – giving and receiving and positive and negative.  Thanks for reading.


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  1. Hi Bud!

    Wonderful post, I especially like Challenge #4 as well: Translating complaints and criticisms into requests; the makings of a truly experienced communicator.

    As a Feedback Enthusiast, the strategies you present here are excellent suggestions that will DEFINATELY improve communication skills. I would like to add that – great communications (who also offer and ask for powerful inspiring feedback) are more likely to instill trust and respect from those around them. Isn’t that a powerful skill to master? I have seen this in action and help those around me to achieve this every day.

    Being able to offer and ask for powerful inspiring feedback also means that you are aware of the impact of the things you say and do and can make changes that make you better on an on-going basis. Now that is truly being on fire to inspire!

    Thank you for inspiring me to leave a comment. I look forward to more!


  2. Sonia:
    Thanks for your great comment.
    I agree with what you have to say about feedback and communication.
    And, I love the term “on fire to inspire.”

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