“Criticism should be a casual conversation.“ W. H. Auden
A win/win problem-solving model for providing constructive feedback is particularly effective for individuals who are uncomfortable expressing conflict, criticism, or anger.
The win/win problem-solving model begins with a supportive statement, which makes it easier to initiate the conversation. Then it establishes a mutual problem-solving dialogue, which is a more comfortable form of communication. Finally, it places the focus on the problem, which directs it away from the individuals involved.
- Begin with a supportive or neutral statement that indicates some sincere positive or respectful feeling you have about the person.
- Identify the situation or problem as you see it, using I-language. Non-blaming messages that describe tangible effects are more likely to result in the other person trying to resolve the problem.
- Make sure that your non-verbal behavior is consistent with your real message.
- Ask an open question to get feedback on your statement.
- Establish the fact that you appreciate the other person’s thoughts or feelings on the subject. Paraphrase what you believe are the beliefs, points, or concerns of the other person.
- Express your feeling, thought, or need.
- Ask for feedback.
- Indicate that you need help in finding a mutually satisfactory solution.
- If the person is willing to work this out with you, move to Step 12. Otherwise, move to Steps 10 and 11.
- Ask the other person to identify the consequences if the situation is not resolved in a mutually satisfactory manner.
- Ask if the other person is comfortable with those consequences. Hopefully, they’re not.
- Suggest constructive alternatives.
- Ask for the other person’s ideas. They will be more committed to the solution if they propose it.
- Clarify the decision or result of the communication. Clearly state who will do what by when, and why this is important.
- Ask the other person to summarize the decision and expected follow-through.
- Reaffirm your support statement.
- Follow through and follow up.
Constructive feedback is most effective and comfortable for both parties when it begins with a supportive statement, establishes a mutual problem-solving dialogue, and places the focus on the problem, which directs it away from the individuals involved.
May your learning be sweet- and safe.
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