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A Clean and Simple Formula for Giving Feedback Using Your Strengths

strengths team building Dec 28, 2019

Most of us don’t enjoy giving feedback to people. That’s because there are three challenges to overcome. First, you may not have developed basic feedback skills. Second, you see the world a certain way. Third, the other person sees the world their way. That’s three big challenges that can create a mess. But you can overcome these challenges through a simple and clean feedback formula that makes use of your strengths.

All you must remember is S.O.A.P. (I told you it was clean.)

S is for Strengths, where you consider the dynamics between your strengths and the other person’s strengths

O is for Observed, where you converse about the observed behavior

A is for Aftermath, where you converse about the impact of the behavior

P is for Preferred, where you converse about what you’d like to see happen instead

Let’s break this down.

Strengths

Before you give feedback, consider your strengths and their strengths, and adjust your approach. As we wrote in our blog post, Four Types of People You'll Meet, there are different approaches to life:

  • Earth, where we focus on work, tasks, and processes
  • Wind, where we focus on thinking, ideas, and planning
  • Fire, where we focus on impact, influence, and opinions
  • Water, where we focus on people, feelings, and connections

These are general approaches to life, but even within these approaches, there are specific kinds of strengths like being responsible, analyzing factors, establishing deep connections, and communicating well.

As you give feedback, you will want to ask questions like:

  • How do my strengths affect the feedback I want to give?
  • How do their strengths affect the feedback they will receive?
  • What dynamics may be present between us?
  • How do these dynamics affect my approach?

By considering the strengths of me and them, you can utilize the best parts of yourselves for a positive feedback experience.

Observed

After considering strengths, it’s time to give the feedback. You start by sharing what you observed and leave time for listening and conversation, for example:

I hope we can spend some time on an issue. Is this a good time? [Listen] I’ve noticed that in our two most recent meetings [give exact dates], you interrupted me. Do you know you did that? [Listen]

Starting here takes some of the subjectivity away, you’re simply sharing what you observed.

Aftermath

After sharing the observed behavior, you share the impact of the behavior, for example:

This makes me feel like you don’t care what I have to say. I also don’t get the chance to finish my thought. It also reinforces to others that it’s okay to interrupt each other. What do you think? [Listen]

Notice that you shared three levels of impact: 1) how it makes you feel; 2) interruption of thought; 3) acceptance of behavior by others.

Preferred

After sharing the aftermath of the behavior, you share what you’d prefer to see instead. It’s easy to miss this step, but don’t forget it! A big reason for sharing the feedback is for change to happen, for example:

In the future, I would appreciate if you would wait for me to finish until you say something. I would love to hear your questions or reactions, just not when I’m still communicating. [Listen]

Notice you’re being very clear about what you’d like to see happen…don’t interrupt me next time!

Conclusion

Giving feedback is a necessary part of life. Try this simple feedback formula next time a sticky situation comes calling. But keep it clean…remember S.O.A.P.

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