Written by Jen Sanders

What is the last feedback you received or offered, and how did that go? Giving and receiving feedback is a universal part of our daily lives and constantly shapes our growth and development. These feedback experiences run the gamut from frustration and confusion to gratitude and growth.

Learning to give effective feedback can help differentiate and propel leaders, team members, and humans forward in all personal and professional interactions. Consider these three tips to take your feedback to the next level.

Be Specific. Vague statements like, “You need to improve your performance,” are challenging to act on and open to subjectivity. Try using behaviorally focused action words to pinpoint the issue. For example, “I noticed you missed two project deadlines last month.” This specificity clarifies the problem and makes it easier for the recipient to understand and address it.

Use Actionable Language. Using behaviorally focused action words can transform how we communicate and foster growth. Encourage action by framing your feedback in terms of actionable steps. When giving feedback, consider using action words. What did the person DO or SAY? Telling someone, “You were rude during yesterday’s meeting,” isn’t enough. Instead, share what the person did or said that was rude. For example, “During the meeting yesterday, you continued to interrupt Bob, and you were texting on your phone numerous times.” Using action words provides clarity around what happened and a clear path forward, making it easier for the individual to take meaningful action.

Be Timely. Feedback should be promptly provided, ideally within one to two weeks following the event. Most of us need help remembering what we had for dinner a few days ago; expecting someone to remember occurrences after an extended period is unreasonable. We want people to act on the feedback and make appropriate course corrections. Letting feedback slide and build up compounds the issue, as it’s hard for people to correct something they aren’t aware of.

Effective feedback is a gift. The next time you encounter a situation where you should provide feedback, remember to make it Specific, Actionable, and Timely.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through its innovative coaching programs.