Focus on Behaviour, not Personality & be Specific!

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Personality statements are generally judgements (positive and negative) about a person.

A couple of simple examples are:-

1) You are a nice person
2) You’re lazy

Now behaviour statements describe how a person is acting.

Again, some examples are:-

1) You make a point of saying hello to everyone every day.
2) You don’t ask customers for all the information we need on the application.

Any changes or improvements that need to happen are ultimately changes to behaviour. Yet sometimes feedback given is more about a person’s identity than their behaviour which is one of the main reasons of communication breakdown.

Another key principal skilled communicators practice is that they are very specific when giving feedback as vagueness creates questions.

For example:

“You provide excellent service”.

What kind of service?
What does the person do?

Being specific answers these questions, for example:

“You responded to customers emails within the same day and provide complete answers to their questions”

Here the statement describes the actions of the person and explains what the person did specifically.

As managers we need to reflect on the way we communicate with our team and observe the interactions that go on around us.  Are you and your team focused on behaviour rather than personality and specific with feedback?

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