Where to Give (and Receive) Feedback

The last 3 months we’ve reviewed the COIN feedback model, the benefits of giving feedback and tips for increased effectiveness. This month it’s about a visual of where to give it to help you in the moment which I use in my upcoming book Soft Skills Hard Results.

One of the keys to giving effective feedback is to direct the feedback towards something the person can change or improve (or continue if it’s positive). Someone can change their behaviours and skills. It’s much more difficult for someone to change an aspect of their personality or identity and hearing negative feedback about your personality or character is usually painful.

The Logical Levels, used as a tool or model in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and developed by coach, consultant and trainer Robert Dilts and Todd Epstein, is a useful structure to assess where to give and receive feedback. The levels are illustrated below:











Give feedback primarily at the outer level of the bullseye rather than the centre. Give (and receive) feedback at a behaviour or capability level as these are areas within a person’s control. Feedback at an environment level is suitable too, although the person might be limited in how they can effect change. Refrain from giving feedback at the level of someone’s identity, beliefs or values as this is fundamental to the person and really not up for change. The same approach holds true when you are receiving feedback. If someone is giving you feedback, get clarity from them at a behaviour or ability level, don’t take feedback at an identity level – you are worthy as a human being regardless of their comments.

Where do you typically give feedback? Where do you typically take feedback?

Trust & Truth = Leadership? In Politics?

Important words to contemplate as the UK enters another General Election, the 3rd in the last 5 years, Canada comes off a General Election with a minority government and the USA has an election next year.

Actually, trust & truth are two of the most important words in any relationship I think – be it political, organizational, friendship, romantic or familial.  Trust & Truth are key for a leader to build to motivate people and bring them along on the journey.

Some thoughts on building Trust:

  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • Notice, recognize, acknowledge the good in the other person
  • Be consistent in your interaction with them
  • Find common ground – in ideas, values, beliefs, vision, whatever and build on it
  • Communicate openly, transparently, often
  • Show vulnerability yourself
  • Deal with conflict, differences, hurts or annoyances early to avoid resentment
  • Balance the relationship with the task at hand
  • Be honest – see next point

Some thoughts on Truth:

  • It can be empirical when referencing facts and reality, such as data and substantiation
  • It can be determined when 4 factors are present: congruent with our experience, internally congruent with itself, coherent with everything else we consider to be true and useful in organizing our thinking and practice1
  • It can be subjective as in my truth (what’s authentic to me or my experience of something) might be different than your truth
  • Best to state your experience, context and perspective when sharing your truth to bring people along in your thinking
  • Be conscious of social media, cameras and recordings as they can capture ‘truth’ or be edited to alter ‘truth’

What would you need to hear and see from politicians to trust them?

1 As Bill Meacham emailed into https://philosophynow.org/issues/86/What_Is_Truth

Simple Feedback Model – For Positive and Constructive Feedback

There is a simple 4-step model that many people recommend, and I will follow suit. It’s called the C.O.I.N. model (unknown originator – please tell me if you know). It’s very straightforward so please keep it simple. Fewer words are more effective in this case. 

C  is for context or circumstances, the when and where of the situation.  

O  is for what was observed, the action or behaviour exhibited. 

I    is for the impact it had, on you, the team, another individual, or the business. 

N  is for next steps, what you expect or encourage the recipient to do next with the feedback. 

simple feedback model

What would it take for you to try this model at least once today? Maybe start with a low-risk situation such as positive feedback to a child or junior staff member? 

Please help with part of the FEEDBACK section of my book!

I’m working on the revisions to my book. It is due to 5 beta readers later this month. I’m working on the feedback section now which covers both positive and negative (or constructive) feedback; yes feedback can be positive too! It itemizes the benefits of giving feedback, the aversions of why people don’t do it and illustrates a model of what to do and how to do it. It’s a true list of tips and tricks with plenty of examples to help readers formulate their own feedback.

Benefits of Giving Feedback

The benefits of giving feedback are almost too obvious to state – and they are the same whether the feedback is positive or negative/constructive.

  1. People feel valued because overall you give noticeably more positive feedback than negative/constructive (research says financially successful companies give positive feedback 4-5 times for every 1 piece of negative feedback given)
  2. People feel that you care about their performance and hence them because you are taking time to communicate specifics with them
  3. People learn what you expect and what success looks like – by you reinforcing it when you point out the positives and by you illustrating what’s better when you point out the improvement
  4. People are seen and heard as individuals
  5. Others see what good looks like and what’s expected when you give positive feedback to other people in public
  6. You create a feedback culture in the organization thereby having everyone contribute to good/better performance
  7. Peoples’ ineffective actions are improved or their positive behaviour continues (or even increases in frequency) thereby positively impacting the business
  8. Company performance improves
  9. You are perceived as observant, engaged and a people-person (by your team and potentially peers and superiors)

Would you please let me know any benefit I have forgotten? I’d like to have 10 in my list rather than 9 and have been racking my brain for that elusive last one!

Maybe I’ll try the Fish ‘n’ Chips?

Might not seem like an unusual statement for someone living in London, England. Fish ‘n Chips are one of the iconic foods for which the UK is famous, given it’s an island with a historical potato-loving country included.

It’s unusual for me to contemplate eating fish ‘n chips, actually eating fish of any kind. Up to a month ago I had a life-threatening allergy to fish and shellfish, an anaphylactic allergy meaning I could stop breathing if I ingested fish or shellfish. I was diagnosed as a kid and have avoided eating fish and shellfish all my life. I’m one of the few people who frequents an Italian restaurant when in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia as eating the local cuisine was so stressful due to potential cross contamination.

So what happened a month ago? Good question. I went to an allergist for a skin problem. He quickly said the skin problem was not caused by an allergy but he could help me with my fish and shellfish allergy. What? After I got over my disappointment about having waited 3 months to get help with the skin problem that’s dismissed in less than a minute, he elaborates on the allergy. He said the majority of adults diagnosed as anaphylactic as kids outgrow the allergy. So 3 tests later it’s confirmed the allergy is no longer life threatening. And after a final ingestion of 150g of cooked cod and waiting 5 hours under supervision it’s confirmed I no longer have any allergy and can introduce fish and shellfish into my diet if I choose. I’m not sure I will and it means travelling in Asia is much more appealing now as there’s little fear of dying from fish or shellfish contamination.

What’s the point of this story in a personal development newsletter you might be asking?

What beliefs do you hold about yourself, from long ago, that are no longer true?

4 Client Sessions – 4 Tangible Results

I just finished my fourth and final session with a client over the last 6 months as part of a change program. His feedback at the end of the coaching was:

I’m not the guy who thought very much toward psychology and people interactions. This coaching and the associated results have changed my mind on so many topics.

His change project was a new IT system implementation with a 40-person team. He and I worked together at the very start of this long term process. Each of our sessions resulted in him taking on a specific aspect with enough time between sessions to actually do the self-identified actions and get to see some results.

















What change are you trying to tackle?





Who needs Soft Skills? From the book-in-progress: Soft Skills, Hard Results.

Who needs Soft Skills? From the book-in-progress: Soft Skills, Hard Results.

Pretty much everyone uses or needs soft skills.

Even those who focus on results and getting things done. And especially those who lead with their head. Analytical, logical and rationale has worked fine, up to now. The world and business have changed and will continue to be uncertain and complex.

My soon-to-be-book-reader feels they should, or have been told, to engage, motivate and inspire their teams more. This means they’d benefit from leading more from their heart (emotional, collaborative, and vulnerable).

Now they face the challenges of:

– rising inter-generational differences with millennials in the workforce,

– increasing stress and emotions of and among staff,

– needing to stand out from their colleagues,

– trying to achieve more with less,

– wanting to feel confident/comfortable in their interpersonal interactions, and

– addressing feedback they may have received that they deliver results but could be warmer, use more people skills or be more empathetic.

Soft skills aren’t fluffy. The cost of underdeveloped people skills is lost productivity.

Soft skills fall within the realm of Emotional Intelligence. EI is the ability to know one’s emotions, managing them and to understand the emotions in other people in order to manage relationships with others. The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines it as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

soft skills












What aspect of soft skills would serve you to improve?

[Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Bloomsbury Publishing 1996]


Sadness and Celebration of Aretha Franklin’s Death

Last month the world lost an icon – a civil rights activist, a mother, a sister, a friend and of course, a music legend. Her passing teaches us so much about how to live life.

Surround yourself – she surrounded herself with honest and supportive people starting with her Father who supported, nurtured and encouraged her from a young age to achieve her dreams.

Respect – it’s what we all want as she said and she demanded it from others and felt it for herself with humility.

Adaptable – she adapted across generations and music genres as evidenced in the 80’s by doing a duet with George Michael to reach a new audience.

Passion and Service – she had this in spades for her music and fans.

Trailblazer – she was the first woman inducted into the hall of fame, a trailblazer and pioneer.

Know yourself – she was grounded in what was important to her such as God, her family and her gift.

What’s your legacy? What do you want people to say at your passing?

Do you need other people to be on-board to achieve your goals?

Usually the answer is yes unless you’re an independent narcissist.

Influencing is a way to resolve conflict, solve problems, reach joint decision and get results with other people without needing direct authority. It is not about getting other people to agree with you or do what you want. It’s best to think of influencing as a way of finding a win-win decision for yourself and those with whom you’re involved.

Here are some ideas of how to approach influencing:

1. It starts with focusing on yourself (seems paradoxical if you’re trying to influence another).

a. What are your objectives around the topic? What are the issues and benefits?

b. What would you like to happen around this topic? What does success or at least good look like?

c. What have you done so far?

2. Now it’s time to think of the other people:

a. Who else is involved? Who are the stakeholders? Who do you need to influence?

b. Get into their shoes: What’s important to them about this topic? How do they see it? What are the pros and cons for them?

c. What are your relationships with those people?

3. Develop your plan to influence:

a. How will you learn from the other person what their perspective is on the topic?

b. How will you acknowledge you understand their position?

c. How will you establish credibility?

d. How will you frame your goal to establish common ground?

e. How will you provide evidence, rationale and express it vividly?

f. How will you connect emotionally with the person?

g. Consider how you will use the skills of influencing which are:

i. Building rapport unique to the individual

ii. Questioning to learn and understand

iii. Getting the other to talk about their needs

iv. Listening

v. Handling objections without dismissing

vi. Giving the right amount of info – not too little, not too much

4. Start the process of influencing – consider it a journey rather than a destination.

What topic needs your influence?