The Rewind – Don’t Be a Brainstorm Bully

We’ve all experienced an awkward encounter involving feedback at some point in time. Whether you’re the one giving it or receiving it, things can get heated fast. Here are two foolproof formulas you can use to provide encouraging comments that won’t ruffle feathers in the office or at home.

Formula 1 – Like-Wish-Wonder Feedback Framework

This first approach is from a brilliant Twitter feed by @Charbeljsimson. He calls his formula the “Like-Wish-Wonder Feedback Framework.” It goes like this: “I like X. I wish Y. I wonder if Z?”

Here’s a practical example that occurs daily at our office. Our production manager routes creative drafts through a shared review process. Let’s say it’s an eblast and it’s now my turn to add comments. Here is a simple way to provide notes that won’t upset or offend our creative team.

“I like the layout. I wish there were more infographics to break up the text. I wonder if this form of data will resonate with the readers?”

This is way better than, “I think the text is too heavy. We need more infographics. I know this will work better for the readers.”

See the difference? When you’re using this tool be sure to not turn the framework into a condescending sentence. It should be natural, not forced.

Formula 2 – Yes, And…

I discovered this concept in college during a leadership program. This framework is used more practically in brainstorming sessions.

It’s designed to promote open communication across the team, so you’ll notice that conversation will continue to flow.

The idea here is that thoughts and individual contributions are not minimized, and everyone is heard. This is especially important in the brainstorming phase. It’s easy for team members to feel alienated quickly when a brainstorm bully is present.

You can use “yes and…” even if you disagree with a comment. This allows you to acknowledge the other person’s comment while you add your thoughts. Here’s a scenario.

You and your team are responsible for planning a summer extravaganza to celebrate local officials. Think of it as a summer BBQ for firefighters, EMTs and your local police department.

You: “I think we should get a snow cone machine for the event, and maybe we can have a dunk tank to raise money for the local fire department.”

Brainstorm Bully: “Pft, that’s a waste of money. Do you know how much dunk tanks cost to rent?”

Pause. We’re two sentences in and we’re already feeling deflated. Here’s what the Brainstorm Bully could have said.

“You: “I think we should get a snow cone machine for the event, and maybe we can have a dunk tank to raise money for the local fire department.”

Brainstorm Bully: “Yes, the snow cones are a great idea, and I think we can research the dunk tank. I know they can be pricey, but we might be able to get a discount since it’s a local event.”

See how easy that was? The Brainstorm Bully was able to voice his/her opinion and concerns without steamrolling over the conversation.

Sounds Simple Doesn’t it?

I’m sure by this point you feel like you’re in one of those mandatory classes your employer makes you take that teaches you how to treat your coworkers.

While it might seem elementary, these principles can make a big difference in how your team communicates, which can fundamentally change your productivity and quality of work.

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