How To Give Better Feedback

When I was 16, I attended a leadership conference called SFTL, which stands for Seminar For Tomorrow's Leaders. It was a 3-day conference for rising juniors and seniors from all over North Carolina to learn communication and leadership skills. 

There is one huge take away that I still use when I have a difficult conversation to address. Difficult conversations are confrontations that you feel a resistance to have but could be a turning point in any relationship.

We learned a concept called SBI which stands for situation, behavior, impact. It is meant for giving feedback, and helping the other person understand how you're feeling. The situation and behavior is something specific like, "Remember last Thursday at lunch I asked you if you would look at my proposal?" Behavior would be "Do you recall telling me you didn’t have time to look at it then or before the end of the week?" The impact would be "That made me feel like you don’t value the work I put into our team."

You are bringing up something specific so they can remember exactly what happened. You aren’t really pointing fingers, you’re just saying how it made you feel and why.  You’re centering it around yourself, not the person you are addressing. You’re not trying to fight with them, you’re trying to find a solution for the future. Most people will listen to you, apologize for the way they made you feel, and agree to your solution. Most people don't want to make you feel ignored or unimportant.

I've had confrontations with teachers that have changed their entire perception of me. People appreciate honesty, and a willingness to fix problems. I've used this for confrontations with friends and family, and it's always strengthened my relationships.

Confrontations are hard, they can make you nervous, but if you have a good plan of what you want to say and accomplish, they can be extremely valuable.