Hillary, a director at a global consulting firm, sent me an email this morning including a screenshot of a text she had received from a young team member.

“Hey Hillary. Bradford said he’s going to talk to you about my review. Anything I need to know???”

Hillary was rattled. Were the ‘???’ implying a yelling tone? She did not want to discuss performance reviews via text.

Hillary’s question to me – how do I respond? How do I give her feedback on appropriate topics to discuss via text, while still meeting her millennial colleague where she is?


Giving feedback can be awkward, unproductive and ineffective. It is typically a task many put off. Or they don’t think about it and just respond quickly, in Hillary’s case, potentially with,

“Don’t text me this question. It’s not appropriate and I don’t want to talk about it through a text.”


You can see how that would set someone off and not be productive to the relationship.

Instead, I recommend using this simple tool to deliver effective feedback, where the recipient is clear on expectations, and less defensively.

4 steps to give feedback
1. State the situation. “In your text yesterday,
2. State the behavior or action. “You brought up your performance review.”
3. Explain the impact of the behavior or action. “This is not an appropriate conversation to have over text. Your ‘???’ set a tone of urgency and perhaps anger.”
4. Make a request. “I am happy to speak with you about your performance review at any time. This is a great topic for discussion at our next one-on-one call. In the future, feel free to email or call me requesting to speak about your review or similar topics. Of course, you can always text me to let me know you’re running late for a meeting.”

Watch another example about giving feedback to a colleague who is not participating in an important meeting.

Gaining the confidence to give feedback – to subordinates, peers or leaders – is key to your success no matter where you are in your career.

Why it is imperative to give feedback

Avoiding it is not effective, and you are holding back yourself, your colleague, your team, and the organization. Withholding valuable information doesn’t help others, and the organization as a whole, immediately and or in the long-term.

Each time you deliver feedback, you gain confidence in this skill. And the next time you do it, it will be easier!

If you’re still having a hard time giving feedback, consider joining the Women’s Catalyst Network, a peer-to-peer network of professional women looking to take control of and ignite their careers.

Please share in the comments below how you have used this tool to give feedback and the results you had. What part of it was easy, and which was harder?