When giving feedback, the most important skill you can use to check assumptions is to check for understanding. You can do this by:

  • Identifying and checking your assumptions.

“When I said ‘all-inclusive,’ I meant our group will be responsible for every project deliverable. Is that how you interpreted my report?”

  • Seeking to identify the other person’s assumptions.

“Sometimes, people think that if a new team member asks a lot of questions, that person doesn’t know what’s going on. Is that what you were thinking about me?”

  • Asking clarifying questions to understand the speaker’s idea or information.

“You mentioned that the layout I chose could have been more flexible.  Does that mean you found it too difficult to work with?”

  • Summarizing what the other person has said.

“So, if I heard you correctly, the actual deadline is two days earlier than we had anticipated. Is that right?”

  • Confirming your understanding of the discussion’s purpose.

“It sounds like you want to make sure we know who’s going to do what by when.  Right?”

In the next post, we will describe when it may not be a good idea to give feedback.

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