The Situation-Behavior-Impact Formula "to Understand Intent"
"When giving feedback, close the gap between intent and impact by clarifying the situation, describing the behavior, explaining the impact — then, exploring intentions."
Describe the specific situation in which the behavior occurred. Avoid generalities, such as “last week,” as that can lead to confusion.
Example: “This morning at the 11 a.m. team meeting…”
Describe the actual, observable behavior. Keep to the facts. Don’t insert opinions or judgments.
Example: “You interrupted me while I was telling the team about the monthly budget,” instead of “You were rude.”
Describe the results of the behavior. Because you’re describing exactly what happened and explaining your true feelings — not passing judgment — the listener is more likely to absorb what you’re saying. If the effect was positive, words like “happy” or “proud” help underscore the success of the behavior. If the effect of the behavior was negative and needs to stop, you can use words such as “troubled” or “worried.”
Example: “I was impressed when you addressed that issue without being asked” or “I felt frustrated when you interrupted me because it broke my train of thought.”
The success of Situation-Behavior-Impact is enhanced when the feedback, which is one-way, is accompanied by an inquiry about intent, which makes the conversation two-way.1
SBI and Situation-Behavior-Impact are trademarks of the Center for Creative Leadership.
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