Consulting 6.3 Evaluations: Giving spoken feedback

This lesson will help you give spoken-style feedback in a friendly, conversational way. 

Introduction: 

Giving feedback in your day-to-day work can be tricky because you don't want to offend people and because spoken English often uses different phrases from written English. 

Warm Up: 

Read this short exchange from a presentation: 

Client: That's an interesting point about tier-1 suppliers, can you tell me a little more about it?
Consultant: Yea, um, right... well... so um, this is something I learned from an expert just a few days ago, and um, he said that some clients don't realize how much competition there can be with tier-1 suppliers, um, he said it's possible to cut costs that way.

What feedback would you have for your colleague after the presentation?

Language: 

A. It is a good idea to start any spoken correction with some praise. It softens any criticism and it is honest since most of what your colleagues do is good. 

Take some time to think of things that your colleagues have done well, and complete each phrase.

  1. Great job with...
  2. Really nice...
  3. I really thought the ____ was excellent/impressive/memorable/spot-on.
  4. You nailed the ____ . 

B. Next, you can pad your spoken feedback to soften the criticism. 

What are some issues you can think of? Take some time to imagine them and complete each phrase.

  1. Moving forward, I think it would be a good idea to work on... 

  2. If I could add a comment on something to work on, I'd practice... 

  3. This is just from my view, but if I was in your shoes, I'd focus on... 

  4. To take the next step forward, I recommend that you think about...

  5. Back when I had a little less experience, I also had trouble with this. I found it useful to...

C. Some consultants prefer to be more direct, especially if you are the senior staff and speaking to someone your junior. You can also use a variety of idioms to explain your point. Discuss the following feedback and think of other ways to say each phrase.

  1. This is directionally correct, but it's time to sweat the details. 
  2. Let's peel the onion. What's the next layer? What's under that? Don't just stay surface-level.
  3. Hold on, you're trying to boil the ocean here. Let's focus on the maximum value-added, rather than doing too much.
  4. I'm glad you came to me, but you should've asked as soon as you hit the roadblock, rather than wasting half a day.
Practice: 

A. Take some time to think about tough feedback you have given. 

  1. Who did you have to give it to?
  2. What did you say?
  3. How was it received? 
  4. If you could go back and do it again, would you do anything differently?

B. Now, think about surprising feedback you have received.

  1. What was it?
  2. Are you happy with how you reacted?
  3. If you could change something about how it was delivered, what would you change?