When you hear the word feedback, what do you feel?
All of these emotions run through me when I’m about to receive feedback. That’s why positive feedback feels so…
In this guide, I will show you how to give positive feedback to colleagues in a way they will never forget. The trick? Use ♦️diamonds♦️.
Disclosure: This article includes affiliate links to any books I reference. I may receive compensation when you click on links to these products.
Give Positive Feedback to Colleagues with the SBIR Framework.
Giving positive feedback is hard! You know what you feel but lack the words.
To organize my thoughts, I use the SBIR Framework. This acronym defines the structure of how to deliver positive feedback:
- Situation: State the specific event where you observed the behavior.
- Behavior: Explain the precise behavior you saw.
- Impact: Describe the exact impact the person’s actions had on you or others.
- Request: State the explicit request you would like to make of the person.
I love using the SBIR framework when giving feedback. It forces you to use contextual and specific information. You need to explain the situation, the exact behavior, and how it directly affected you. I’ve had great success with the people who’ve received feedback in this form.
This framework is perfect for also giving constructive feedback.
Let’s look at an example.
Positive Feedback Example: Giving Space to Speak
You’re in your team’s weekly planning meeting. It’s a typical meeting – you’re reviewing last week’s work and learning about the next project. You’re often quiet in these sessions and primarily listening. The product manager brings up a question to the group, which FINALLY gives you a chance to speak. You’re about to say something but then…
Dale interrupted you.
Ugh, you’re one chance to speak. Suddenly, your manager, Emily, stops Dale. She says, “These are great thoughts, Dale, but I noticed you interrupted The Reader. They regularly work in this area, so let’s hear them first.”
You express your thoughts and wow everyone in the room.
Let’s make sure we provide positive feedback to Emily with the SBIR Framework:
- Situation: The team was at the weekly planning meeting.
- Behavior: Emily interrupted Dale after she noticed he interrupted you.
- Impact: This gave you space to express your thoughts and impress the team, which you don’t often get to do.
- Request: Please continue making space for everyone to communicate their ideas.
There’s the structure. Now, we can give positive feedback to Emily:
At this week’s team planning meeting (SITUATION), I noticed that when Bill interrupted me, you stopped him and gave me space to talk (BEHAVIOR). I appreciated this moment as I don’t often get opportunities to use my expertise in those meetings (IMPACT). Please continue to pay attention to these moments so others can have the same opportunities to express their opinions (REQUEST).
Wow – who wouldn’t love getting positive feedback from a colleague like that?
Creating Memorable Positive Feedback: Give Diamonds, not Hearts
Oh yeah, the diamonds. No, you don’t have to spend your paycheck every time you want to give positive feedback. That’s terrible financial advice.
I’m actually talking about the suit of cards.
(I swear there’s a metaphor here you’ll remember.)
When it comes to giving positive feedback to colleagues, you have two types: ❤️Hearts❤️ and ♦️Diamonds♦️.
Hearts are when you give positive feedback that expresses a general feeling. It’s the feedback where you say “Good job!” or “You’re a great teammate!”. Heart-shaped feedback shows the intent your want to express, but it’s not memorable.
Diamonds, on the other hand – people remember this type of positive feedback. Diamond-shaped feedback is specific. It explains the details of the situation. It shows the precise impact it had on you. Diamond-shaped feedback expresses your intent AND includes the details that make it memorable.
Now, when you give positive feedback to colleagues, always ask yourself:
Am I giving positive feedback that’s a heart or a diamond?
People never forget ♦️diamonds♦️.
More Examples of Giving Positive Feedback to Colleagues
Now that we know how to give positive feedback to colleagues, here are more examples of providing it.
Positive Feedback Example 1: Getting Help from a Colleague
Hey Michael, I wanted to give you some positive feedback for helping me with the customer support issue yesterday. I was spinning my wheels for an hour by the time you came by to talk through ideas and help me find a solution. The questions you asked allowed me to focus my thoughts and ignore solutions that wouldn’t work. Please continue to pay attention when someone gets stuck on a problem and reach out to talk through ideas.
Positive Feedback Example 2: Learning from a Mentor
Hi Stephanie, I wanted to express my gratitude for how you helped me break down our work last week. I liked how to we looked at specific tasks, reviewed the acceptance criteria, and talked through how we would implement the work. I enjoyed how this gave me the space to solve problems with you early on and how you showed me specific code files to modify. I’m much more confident in giving project estimates now. I would like to have these sessions again in the future.
Positive Feedback Example 3: Showing Appreciation to a Junior Employee
Hi Joseph, I think you did a great job writing the design document for our next project. I see from what you wrote that you put the time into researching the project, evaluated the trade-offs, and clearly communicated your thoughts. This is going to make it easy for the product manager to understand our approach and the team to implement your plan. I would love to see you use the same process in the future when writing a design document.
I hope you have a much better understanding of how to give positive feedback to colleagues now.
With the SBIR Framework, you can effectively organize your thoughts, which is needed when writing performance reviews.
To make your positive feedback memorable, though, you need to be specific.
People may appreciate hearts, but they will remember the ♦️diamonds♦️ you give them.
What’s the best piece of positive feedback you’ve ever received? Let me know on Twitter or LinkedIn.
- Crucial Conversations
- Non-Violent Communication
- Keep these feedback techniques in mind for your next performance review.
- How to Give Positive Feedback on a Talk
- 5 Tips to Scale your Learning Culture
- Kudos to LifeLabs for teaching me the ♦️Diamonds♦️ metaphor
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