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Feedback Begins with Outcome


“Excuse me, could you tell us how to return to the river trail. I think we have taken a wrong turn somewhere and are lost?”

This was the question I asked of a couple of cyclists riding confidently along the cycle path.


“Where are you going?” the rescuing cyclist asked.

My wife answered, “Not sure, just going for a ride.”

“Where are you going?” he repeated.

At this stage I said “Guildford”

“Right then” he said and continued to give specific directions.


It dawned on me that we can’t give feedback or assistance if we don’t know the direction, the goal or the outcome. Any assistance must start with an intention of what the observer is looking for, specific to the needs of the recipient.


Starting feedback with the outcome sets the tone for the conversation and provides clarity to the recipient. When we clearly communicate the desired outcome or goal, it helps the individual understand the purpose behind the feedback and what they should be aiming for. By highlighting the desired outcome, we shift the focus from past mistakes to future improvement.


“What it is that we are trying to achieve?”

“What does the end goal look like?”

Answering with a “I want to be a better educator is fraught with danger.”

There is no safety in this non-descript philosophical goal.

It puts the observer in a risky position of upsetting the recipient.

By both parties understanding the end game, the desired outcome, then the

resulting feedback conversation will be safe and effective.


The outcome allows the recipient to envision success and visualize the steps required to reach that outcome. It creates a sense of purpose and motivates individuals to take action towards achieving the desired result. When people have a clear understanding of what they are working towards, they can better identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.


You can’t give directions to someone who doesn’t know their destination or outcome.

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