How To Talk So Others Will Listen

Being able to command the attention of others will benefit both your career and your personal life. Learn to influence, persuade and reduce conflict.


4 Rules of supportive feedback

It's only fair to share...Share on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponShare on Facebook

Feedback is an essential communication skill. It helps you to manage your time; manage your energy; manage your relationships and, manage your resources. Supportive feedback allows you to give your opinion in a clear and precise manner, without causing any undue upset. It is a cornerstone of assertiveness. Supportive feedback can be used to correct behaviour or to encourage a repeat of appropriate behaviour.

It is difficult for people to view their own life objectively. They have so much invested in their life that every decision, thought or action contains some element of bias. Supportive feedback allows you the opportunity to help the other person develop a clearer picture of their life, thoughts and behaviours. When their awareness and understanding are improved in this way, they are in a better position to make clear and effective decisions.

When to use supportive feedback

The following list outlines just some of the many occasions where supportive feedback is appropriate:

  • To reinforce positive behaviour
  • To inspire or motivate
  • To correct inappropriate behaviour
  • To challenge negative or unhelpful thinking
  • To coach or assist learning and development
  • To provide important information
  • To encourage creativity and fresh insights

The potential uses for supportive feedback are almost limitless. The most important thing is that the feedback is actually supportive. To achieve this, there are 4 rules of supportive feedback which must be adhered to.

4 Rules of supportive feedback

Following these 4 rules will help to ensure that you feedback is supportive:

1. Adopt a positive approach

When people are doing the right things it is important that you let them know that you are happy with their performance. Don’t wait for something to go wrong before you communicate. State what you are happy with and how you would like to see more of it. Use the positive feedback model on a regular basis and you will see more of the behaviour you desire.

Where you are attempting to correct undesired behaviour, it is important to do so with positive intentions. Remember, most people want to do the right thing. When things go wrong, it is usually a genuine mistake rather than a deliberate choice. Choose to remain supportive rather than critical.

 2. Be constructive

The ultimate purpose of supportive feedback is to benefit both parties; either by changing unwanted behaviour or repeating the behaviour you want. If necessary, rehearse your feedback privately and ask yourself if this feedback is going to help the person to improve their performance or, is it just pointing our flaws. To ensure that your feedback is supportive, use the principles of the constructive feedback model.

 3. Evaluate the behaviour, not the person

Human beings are fallible. We all make mistakes. It is important to remember that the behaviour does not make the man. If someone does something stupid, that does not make them stupid. Supportive feedback is based on behaviours and facts; not personalisation and assumptions.

 4. Respect the other person’s dignity

Supportive feedback aims to encourage the desired behaviour in a manner which does not cause any unnecessary upset or hurt for the recipient of the feedback. When delivering feedback, you must ensure that your method of delivery respects their dignity. Critical factors include:

    • Time
    • Location
    • Privacy
    • Confidentiality
    • Availability of support

Supportive feedback should always be based on respect for your values and the values of the other person. If you are unclear about your values, check out Values Based Living.

Supportive feedback is an essential tool in many areas of life. It allows you to be assertive, stating your thoughts without causing unnecessary discomfort for others. When used appropriately, supportive feedback will help the recipient to learn, develop and improve their performance. It is not done for the sake of being critical; it is done for the benefit of both parties. It is a simple but effective tool which can be used across many areas of your life. Next time you have to deliver feedback; ensure that you adhere to the 4 rules of supportive feedback and you will see great improvements in the results you achieve.

It's only fair to share...Share on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponShare on Facebook
  • chris delaney

    Great article with some really good points, especially the respecting someone’s dignity. I often use the techniques from solution focus therapy, which encourages the receiver to give themselves the solutions to their barriers.

    • Carthage Buckley

      Thank you for your thoughts Chris. It is important to respect the dignity of others. If you fail to do so, your message may not be properly received, and it may cause more harm than good. Solution focus therapy really does offer a lot of techniques. When the receiver comes up with the solution, they are far more likely to follow through.

  • Stanus Cloete

    Great article. I can identify with al four rules. Personally I would prefer to call it essensial approaches to supportive feedback, but that is just my preference. All four fit in nicely with my thinking on Solution Focussed Practices.

    • Carthage Buckley

      Stanus, Thank you for your comment. I am glad you liked the post. I find that focusing on solutions is the most effective approach.

      Your title suggestion would certainly work as well as the title I used. I will keep it in mind for future posts. I appreciate your feedback.

  • Lynn McIntosh

    Thank you again, Carthage! Very on time for me today!

    • Carthage

      It’s great to hear that you find my articles helpful, Lynn.

  • Dr. Kelly Edmonds

    As an educator, I know how valuable feedback is for learners. It tells them if they are understanding, on the right track, etc. Thus, I see feedback as a teachable moment, not something you add to the end of a quiz question. Regardless of someone’s answer (to any activity) I give reinforcement and a deeper explanation so that not everything is loaded in the content.

    • Carthage Buckley

      Good advice, Dr. Kelly. Thank you for your comment.