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Businesspeople need feedback to guide their careers and direct business results. Feedback is given for only two reasons–to maintain or change behaviors. Positive

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When people receive negative feedback, they usually become defensive. They will typically go through five stages before accepting the information: shock, anger, resistance, acceptance, and then hopefulness. To reduce a recipient’s defensiveness, the person giving negative feedback can be specific, focusing on actions, consequences of the actions, and alternative methods and behaviors for future performance.


When a businessperson has established a trusting relationship with someone and secured permission to give him or her feedback, it should be done in less than two minutes. Short, direct messages are easier for recipients to hear and act on. The recipients might not like what is being said, but they will appreciate the candor with which it is being said. The Feedback Formula for saying anything to anyone uses the following eight steps:

  1. Explaining the topic of the conversation.

  2. Empathizing with the recipient.

  3. Describing the observed behavior.

  4. Defining the impact of the behavior.

  5. Asking the recipient for his or her observations of the situation.

  6. Suggesting a different behavior for the next time.

  7. Agreeing on next steps and improved processes.

  8. Expressing appreciation by saying “thank you.”

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