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How to give feedback on the fly

Sometimes we’re not always gifted with time when our partner desires feedback so it’s necessary to be able to think on your feet.  However, this is not as easy (or as difficult) as it sounds – it simply requires practice.

  1. Listen carefully to what your partner is saying and slow them down by repeating certain portions or asking questions.  Sound nefarious but really it will give you time to think.
  2. Maintain eye-contact.  Pick up whatever clues you can from body language.
  3. Seek out the important words.  Filter out any emotionally loaded words or accusations.  Make a mental note of verbs and feelings.
  4. Sort what you’re hearing into a main idea(s) and supporting feelings.  Try to ascertain what they really need (not everyone is immediately aware of what they need or why they’re reacting this way).
  5. Confirm what you’re thinking with your partner.  Try the sentence, “So if I’m understanding you correctly….”  Listen carefully to any corrections they make.
  6. Ask for a moment to consider your reply but realize that moment may be small to nonexistent.
  7. Take a breath before each sentence to slow down your reply and to keep your emotions even.
  8. Speak slowly and deliberately without sounding condescending.  Do not raise your voice even if the other person did.
  9. Edit out any inflammatory word or accusations.  If something will come off as a non-sequitur, avoid it or give the person an easy tangent to follow.
  10. Keep it concise and under the radar.  If it’s going to be a big discussion, ask to reconvene at a more appropriate time and place.
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