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Tag Archives: tough conversations at work

Effective feedback with D4 Model

When you think about feedback, do you think of the old “feedback sandwich” where a piece of advice is wedged between two compliments? Do you picture an awkward conversation involving lots of fidgeting and very little eye contact? And what happens after the meeting? Is there a system in place to hold people accountable for implementing the feedback?

There’s a better way to give feedback.

Whether you’re giving appreciative feedback for a job well done, or developmental feedback to help someone improve, it’s a good idea to turn to the D4 Model. This model, created by Insights® Discovery, is set up to accommodate people of all personality types and tendencies. Whether someone is driven by data, emotions, or action, the D4 model works with the person on the other side of the table to give feedback that sticks.

What does D4 stand for?


What are the facts? What actually happened?

Depth of Feeling

How did the instance make you feel?

Dramatic Interpretation

How are you interpreting the situation? What meaning have you given it?


What do you want to do? What do you want the other person to do? Focus on actions taken and actions required.

How does the model play out in real life? If you’re giving appreciative feedback (it is Thanksgiving month, after all!), you might say something like the following:

“When you helped to organize the company fundraiser, I felt relieved that I didn’t have to do everything on my own, and that makes me think that you and I share the same commitment to a healthy office culture, and I want to say thank you and invite you to help spearhead future fundraisers.”

D4 Model, Appreciative Feedback

 If you’re giving developmental feedback, the model plays out a little differently. The action step (“Do”) calls for a strategy and a follow-up, so that action can be implemented and accounted for. Here’s an example:

Be sure to give your team plenty of constructive praise this month, using the D4 model. It is the season for gratitude and it’s always a good idea to let your staff know that they are valued and appreciated. If, however, you encounter problems this month, don’t be afraid to use the D4 model for development. It’s a great way to concisely and clearly offer candid, practical feedback.

Don’t dread evaluations this year! Just remember: Data, Depth of feeling, Dramatic interpretation, and DO.

Looking for more feedback tips? Please contact me.


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have a productive debate at work

Team dynamics can’t always be 100% collaborative. When an office encounters external challenges, like a change in size or shift in industry focus, argument and individual vision can become important points of engagement to keep a team productive and cooperating as a whole unit.     

Productive debate is a form of healthy communication, and making sure everyone understands the same ground rules for conducting those debates is important. When there is a problem that can’t be solved with a short conversation, co-workers need to be prepared to present their viewpoints in a way that remains approachable and non-combative. Shane Snow talks about some of these strategies in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review.

So what are the ways to have a productive debate at work?

Having a facilitator who remains fair and impartial can provide a strong foundation for such events. Usually, a manager or supervisor can take on this role, but team members may find it appropriate to select a different candidate. There should be a consensus on who is directing the conversation.

No personal attacks. All debate stops the moment your team members begin to react defensively. It is impossible to weigh decisions with logic and reason when folks are emotionally threatened or wild. Keep talking points centered around the problem that is being discussed.

Reinforce to team members that you are sharing solutions. There may be information that is shared throughout the course of the debate that changes someone’s position or opinion, and that is okay. There are no sides that need to be taken. You are striving for an honest and meaningful solution to a problem. If somebody with an opposing viewpoint shares an idea that you agree with, be sure you acknowledge the position. Compromise or consensus is more likely when people feel heard.

Remain curious throughout the process. You’re likely to learn something new about your team members through uncomfortable or contentious subjects. Try to frame these lessons as positive incentives, and encourage your team to participate and act in good faith. A team’s real strength lies in the ability to navigate conflict.

The desire to avoid debate is easy to understand, but arguing productively is essential to any team’s growth and learning process. Keep a level head and you’ll go from 12 Angry Men to 12 Contented Team Members.

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