Giving feedback is hard, Whether you’re trying to give actionable one-on-one suggestions, or delivering an annual performance reviews, there’s a deceptively easy and powerful framework you can use to deliver meaningful, actionable feedback in a consistent way.
Based upon a conversation framework for children developed by Harvard’s Project Zero, See/Think/Feel/Wonder is an elegant, easy-to-remember way to give better feedback by completing just four basic sentences:
- I see ____________________ (Something about the object, person or behavior you can see with your eyes).
- I think ____________________ (What you think about what you see).
- I feel ____________________ (An emotion you experience because of what you see or think).
- I wonder ____________________ (Something you’re curious about or a question you have).
By prompting people to begin their feedback with an objective observation (I See), followed by critical analysis (I Think), an emotional response (I Feel) and a follow up question (I Wonder), it untangles the distinct components of criticism, and makes it more likely that the person receiving the feedback will understand it and respond appropriately.
Here’s an example on ways an attorney could use the framework to give feedback to a tardy client:
- I see that you’ve arrived late again for our court hearing.
- I think that you’re not taking this matter very seriously.
- I feel like you’re disrespecting me and the judge.
- I wonder if you’d like to continue with this lawsuit.
Here’s another way a client could use the framework to share their reactions to their latest bill:
- I see that you’ve charged me for three stamps this month.
- I think that you can afford to pay for stamps out of the thousands of dollars of legal fees I’ve paid you.
- I feel disrespected because you are nickel-and-dime me every month.
- I wonder if I should find another attorney.
When practiced and used regularly, See, Think, Feel, Wonder can change the culture of an organization and provide more actionable ways to drive individual and organizational improvement.
Here’s a Worksheet (pdf) that you can use in your organization to practice See, Think, Feel, Wonder everyday.