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Two Simple Ways to Say What’s On Your Mind

Courtney Lynch, October 26, 2015


Two Simple Ways to Say What's On Your Mind

Most professionals have found themselves challenged to provide feedback at one time or another. For many reasons, providing feedback, especially when it’s corrective or constructive, can be one of the most difficult things for a leader to do.

The next time you need to provide feedback, try using the concept of Design Thinking. Design Thinking describes a formal method for resolving problems by focusing on the creation of solutions. Because it’s aspirational, it can be helpful to the feedback process. The goal of Design Thinking is the achievement of an improved future result, versus deeply examining the past. You describe the current state with an eye for what is working and how things can be better.

I was recently speaking with Design Thinking expert, Emilie Wagner. She offered two very simple phrases that allow leaders to bring Design Thinking into feedback conversations: “I like….” and “I wish….”

This approach clarifies what’s going well while allowing you to speak positively about how things can be better. Wishes are the epitome of aspirational. As you share them, you are naturally drawn to finding the pathways to make them happen. Using the phrase “I wish” focuses you on the higher order challenge of finding solutions, and can prevent the damaging drama of rehashing the past.

The next time you share feedback with a colleague, or connect with your team about what is and isn’t working, bring those two simple expressions to your conversation. In a team setting, you can even use those two phrases to form categories on a white board as you capture thoughts around both. Here are a few examples:

  • “I like the design of the brochure. I wish we could find a way to include this new information.”
  • I like how you always come up with new ideas. I wish you could bring more structure to your process as you execute.”
  • I like how we are committed to reinvesting in our capabilities. I wish we could be more disciplined with our budget.”

High performing professionals wish for more feedback. Here’s a way for leaders to make that happen.

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