How To Give Feedback

How to give feedback: the FBI model

Read time: 3.5 minutes

In today’s issue, I will show you how to give feedback people thank you, rather than hate you for.

If you use this framework, you’ll drastically improve your relationship with the people you work with and improve team performance as a result.

"Employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are 3x more likely to be engaged than those who receive feedback once a year or less."

And even if the feedback you give falls on deaf ears, you will be teaching them how to give feedback correctly and help move your culture forward.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have a predefined system for doing this, so feedback often comes across as a personal attack.

The framework I’m going to show you today is what’s called the FBI Model of feedback delivery.

The benefits of this framework are:

  • It’s easy to deliver difficult feedback that elicits a positive reaction.
  • You won’t have to spend much time thinking about what you’re going to say.
  • You’ll position yourself as a leader who cares deeply about the culture of the company/team.

Here's how it works, step-by-step:

Step 1: Prepare in advance

Never give feedback on the spur of the moment. Unless it’s only positive.

You need to prepare exactly what you’re going to say in advance. Practice in front of a mirror if you have to.

When preparing what you’ll say, you’ll want to:

  • Relate to specific tasks and behaviour.
  • Keep it short and targeted.
  • Focus on the present and future.
  • Be genuine and sincere. Don’t sugarcoat.
  • Avoid personal attacks or getting defensive.
  • Avoid using language that is harsh, demeaning or accusatory.
  • Be willing to listen to the person's response. Feedback is a two-way street.

Step 2: Ask for permission

Don’t ambush them. You must ask them first whether it’s OK.

If they say no, respect their wishes.

Later you can come back to them to ask why.

Maybe it was a bad time when you first tried, and they’re ready now?

Sometimes they might ask why you care enough to give feedback in the first place.

A good “reason why” is to convey support and enthusiasm for their and the team’s continued development.

That’s hard to argue with.

Step 3: Deliver the feedback

Have a private 1:1 conversation in-person.

Never do this in public.

DO NOT email, text, chat, Slack or WhatsApp.

If it’s impossible to do it face-to-face, video chat is your next best option. The phone is a last resort.

Here’s the FBI Model. You have to do all 3 for this to work.


You have to say how you feel.

Happy/sad/angry is not enough. Be specific.

It has to be your feelings (not someone else’s). This reduces how much the person receiving can dispute your statement.


You state the behaviour they did that caused the feeling.

Be specific and never use finite words like “always” or “never”, as they can easily be countered.

It might have happened many times before, but feedback is easier to receive and discuss when looking at one specific instance.


You say the impact if that behaviour continues.

How will it affect their job, my job, the well-being of the company/team/project, your relationship, or the culture?

Again, you cannot be generic. It has to be specific.


“I feel concerned about your commitment because last week (F), you didn’t help the customer find a satisfactory solution to the problem they were experiencing (B), and the impact was we had to give them a refund, and I don’t want that to keep happening as each customer costs $1500 to nurture them to that point (I).”

"During yesterday’s team meeting, your body language was negative during my presentation (B), which made me feel like you didn’t agree with what was being said even though I took you through the main points before the meeting started (F). I’m now concerned I won’t be able to trust you to stand alongside me in future meetings of this nature (I)”

In conclusion

By using this framework, you never have to worry about people taking your feedback the wrong way and becoming offended.

Feedback is about helping people improve, not about making them feel bad.

With this process, you can give feedback that gets the result you're looking for and help build a culture of feedback that will repay your efforts many times over.

Well, that’s it for today.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:


The WorkshopBank Tools & Activities Library: get lifetime access to all our most effective workshop tools & techniques. Join 11,000+ members here.


Want to master the most important skill in business? Become an expert in leading & managing change with lifetime access to our popular Change Management Secrets self-paced online course.


Promote your offer to 143,000+ subscribers by sponsoring this newsletter.  Send me a message here for more details.

Delivering one short high-impact actionable tip every Saturday

Join 140k+ subscribers getting tips to help improve team results

About the Author

Nick Martin helps leaders & consultants improve team results with resources, advice & coaching through