Leading Others

Embrace and Encourage Feedback

The purpose of this exercise is help participants practice effective ways to deliver and receive feedback. The benefit of effective feedback is that it helps team members improve their skills, decision-making, and overall performance.


1-2 hours

Group Size


Skill Level


Comfort Level



Flip Chart

Step 1

In advance of the meeting, send out these two brief articles for participants to read: How To Take the Fear of Out Feedback and Stop Giving the Feedback Sandwich. Write the following terms on three different flip chart pages: “Bristler”, Wallower, and Stonewaller.” Go through each category, and ask participants to describe how each type reacts to feedback. Alternately, you can create a Powerpoint slide with the key points for each type. This should take five minutes.

Step 2

Ask participants to work in pairs to interview each other about a situation when they received “negative” feedback. Time the exercise so each person in the pair gets five minutes to interview the other person and then switch. This should take ten minutes. The following interview questions can serve as a guide:

      • What were the opportunities in the criticism?
      • What solutions were proposed?
      • Did the feedback surprise you?
      • In what ways did the feedback resonate with your notions of what you needed to work on?
      • How could the feedback been delivered in a way that would make you more open to accepting it?

Step 3

Bring everyone together again in the group. Ask them to share “popcorn” style about their brief insights from the work in pairs. Capture their insights on a flip chart.  This should take no more than 5 minutes.

Step 4

Share with the group that processing feedback without getting defensive takes practice. The following exercise will help practice some techniques.

Tell participants that you will model the techniques: ask participants to give you feedback on how you facilitated the session, but encourage them to be especially harsh, even including personal insults. Then model receiving each suggestion without getting defensive or excuses and simply respond with:

“Thank you so much for your feedback.  That is an important point.”

“Can you say more about that?”

“Yes and…”

Close the modeling of techniques and ask participants to describe the technique you used. What you want them to observe is that you responded without getting defensive. This demo should take about 10 minutes.

Step 5

Explain to participants that the next exercise, a role play, will offer them more techniques for initiating feedback. Remind participants to avoid the “Feedback Sandwich.” The “Feedback Sandwich” is praise followed by criticisms and can make people feel uncomfortable and less open to listening. Instead, ask participants to:

    • Explain why you are giving feedback
    • Take yourself off the pedestal
    • Ask if they want feedback

Print out a copy of the role play worksheet and give it to participants. Ask participants to work in pairs for this role play. Person A will give feedback and Person B will receive feedback. The role play should last for 4 minutes, followed by 3 minutes for a debrief. The facilitator should keep time. After the first round, participants should switch roles and work with a different partner. This exercise should take 15 minutes.

Step 6

Bring the group together for a full group debrief on the exercise. Use the questions below as a structure for the debrief and capture the key points a flip chart page. This should take approximately 10 minutes.

    • When you were giving feedback, what was most difficult?
    • When you were receiving feedback, how did it feel?

Step 7

Ask the group to think and write down an answer to this question: What is one specific way that you can improve either giving or receiving feedback?