Feedback just got better with the I Like, I Wish, What if Method from Stanford University Institute of Design. This approach is simple to use and focuses on getting feedback in a positive framework.

The I Like, I Wish, What if Method is appropriate to use with teams or one on one.  As with other feedback techniques, always use “I” rather than “you” when providing feedback.

Here’s an example:

You statement: You make me mad when you are late.

I statement: I get mad when you are late.

Avoid “You” in Feedback

The “you statement” is a well-known trigger and is seen as a personal attack. When you say “you” the other person immediately becomes defensive. Once their defenses are up, how easy is it to have a conversation with them?

When you use the “I statement” instead of the “you statement”, the focus is on how you feel about the person’s behavior and not how you feel about them personally. While the other person may not like the feedback you are giving them, they will not feel personally attacked.

Putting I Like, I Wish, What if to the Test

Let’s see how using I Like, I Wish, What if makes feedback more constructive and positive. Using the same example about our friend being late, you might say instead:

I like it when you are time.

I wish you would leave a few minutes earlier.

What if you left a few minutes earlier?

Think about how you can use the I Like, I Wish, What if Method to improve your communication with others. Try it out with a new situation and not a re-occurring or nagging problem. My hunch is that attitude makes a big difference in delivery.