Facing Conflict? Apply CPR

One of the challenges I hear about most often from clients is how to deliver what they see as negative feedback. And when I don’t hear about it, I often see the results of not giving timely and appropriate feedback: lack of alignment, unclear expectations, role confusion and frustrated managers. But feedback is the lifeblood of any team, so today I’m sharing the CPR method of giving constructive feedback. It’s a simple, 3-step method that makes it easier to give feedback and build trust on your team.

The first step in giving constructive feedback is to check-in with yourself. Is your complaint about the person based on personal preference? Notice whether your complaint is about style or approach, and also notice how other people react to this person. Doing so will give you clues as to whether what you are seeing is genuinely cause for concern or simply a different way to get to the same end. Focusing on the results the person is getting will help you clarify any changes that need to be made.

The second step is to seek out the positive in what the person is doing. This will help in two ways. First, it will give you some context. When we see negative behaviour, it tends to colour our view of a person, often obliterating any good work that they are doing. Second, it will give you something positive to share with the person so that you can start to build their trust. If the person you want to give feedback to sees that you value them, they will be much more receptive to your constructive feedback.

The third and final step is to frame your feedback with the results the person will have. Think about what’s in it for them – why would this person want to follow your advice? Most people are very interested in improving their performance, so focusing on the impact they could have can be a powerful way to align your interests and help them achieve even greater results.

Once you’ve given your CPR feedback, keep the lines of communication open – feedback should be an ongoing conversation, not “drive-by criticism.” Understand also that your feedback is just one perspective – yours – and that the person you are giving it to may have a different perspective. Your job is to make it easy for the person to hear and be receptive to your feedback, but it’s their job to do something with it. By following this CPR method of giving constructive feedback, and continuing the feedback conversation, you greatly improve the likelihood that your feedback will be taken to heart and implemented. And as a bonus, it even builds relationships with your team members.