Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

Leadership Blog

Effective Feedback: Leaders Using “And” versus “But”


By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com


Last month’s newsletter (Feedback Frenzy) focused on the delivery of effective feedback. Many thanks to all of you who commented on the newsletter and asked follow-up questions. One question that was raised was how to seamlessly transition from Pluses (i.e., positive feedback) to Deltas (i.e., constructive feedback). Frequently leaders use the word “but” when making this transition. For example, they may say: “….so keep doing those positive things, but I also need you to focus on doing ____ better.” While seemingly harmless, the use of the word “but” can send a message that the flavor of the conversation is taking a 180-degree turn. In the process of using “but,” positive statements that were shared can be wiped away because the team member will now focus intently on the transition topic, which they may not view as positive.


So how can leaders transition a feedback session into a constructive moment without diluting the positive comments that they shared? The answer is to embrace a technique that sales people have used for years; the use of the word “and” while transitioning a conversation. The main reason to use “and” is that it serves as a connectitive. In sum, by using “and,” a leader’s subsequent comments will be viewed as an extension of the previous comments. For example, a leader could say: “….so please keep doing those positive things, and realize that you could do even better by ____.” Thus, the use of “and” will effectively connect the wonderful positive feedback that you have shared, with a bit of the constructive. The end result will be constructive feedback that sticks, without washing away positive feedback that was shared. 


Bottom Line: It may sound easy to use “and” instead of “but” when delivering feedback, however, it can be quite difficult. Once mastered though, the “and” feedback technique will increase the stickability of your comments. In the process, you will help your team members to improve their performance while you save yourself a boatload of time.


Until next time leaders, be well!



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Please do so, as long as you do not alter the content or embedded links. Also, please include the following information: Doug Van Dyke is a Tampa Bay based leadership and collaboration consultant, executive coach, and strategic planner. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching and consulting services, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com. 

© 2013 Leadership Simplified. All rights reserved.

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2013-10-30 at 02:09 PM
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