Surprisingly, the process of giving positive feedback to colleagues is the same as constructive feedback! When you hear the word feedback, what do you feel?
I feel all of these emotions 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 is to use ♦️diamonds♦️.
Disclosure: This article includes affiliate links to any books I reference. I will receive a commission for any purchases.
Give Positive Feedback to Colleagues with the SBIR Framework.
Putting words together to give positive feedback is hard! You know the emotions 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 situation where you observed the behavior.
- Behavior: Explain the precise behavior you saw.
- Impact: Describe the exact impact the person’s actions had on you.
- Request: State the explicit request you would like to make of the person.
I love this framework as a way to give feedback. It creates a structure that forces you to explain the contextual information. You need to explain the situation, the specific behavior, and how it directly affected you. I’ve had great success with the people who receive feedback in this form.
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 as you’re reviewing last week’s work and learning about the next big 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 abruptly stop.
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 go on to 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 our manager, 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 greatly 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, I can’t forget about the diamonds. No, you don’t have to spend your paycheck every time you want to give positive feedback. That would be 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 only 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 positive 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 will never forget the ♦️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 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.
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.
- Crucial Conversations
- Non-Violent Communication
- How to Give Positive Feedback on a Talk
- 5 Tips to Scale your Learning Culture
- Kudos to LifeLabs for teaching me the ♦️Diamonds♦️ metaphor
Before you go
The purpose of Build the Stage is to teach YOU how to be a successful leader.
If you learned something new from this essay, I’d appreciate it if you’d complete one of the following actions:
- Share this essay: By sharing this essay, you help others grow their skills and spark discussion. Save a click with the buttons below.
- Join the Discussion: What’s one thing you learned from this essay? Let me know on Twitter or email.
- Give Feedback: Candid feedback is the most effective way to develop one’s skills. Send me an email to let me know how to improve Build the Stage.
- Subscribe! If you’re not a part of the Build the Stage community, it’s never too late.