Giving Feedback Exercise: Power of Positive Feedback

Giving Feedback Exercise: Power of Positive Feedback


Positive feedback can have a dramatic effect. In this exercise, delegates will learn to appreciate the power of positive feedback, however small, when it is provided repeatedly during the course of a conversation. The aim of the exercise is to be thought provoking so you can then continue with a session on giving appropriate positive feedback. As a result it is ideal to go through this exercise at the beginning of a session on giving feedback.

The core idea in this exercise is that one person has a particular goal in mind and uses that goal to direct the conversation to a particular topic. The conversation is directed to a new topic using positive feedback.  


Provide positive feedback to a speaker to shape the conversation and guide it towards a direction of your choice.

What You Need

  • Papers


  • Divide the delegates to pairs. If you have an odd number of delegates use a group of 3.
  • Ask each pair to nominate one person as a speaker and one as a listener. If you have a group with 3 members, two will be listeners and one will be a speaker.
  • Explain that in this exercise speakers must talk about a particular topic and the listeners will listen to them and give them feedback.
  • Ask the speakers to leave the room so you can brief the listeners. While outside, each speaker can think of a subject they want to talk about when they come back.
  • Explain to listeners that they must use positive feedback to guide the speakers’ conversation towards a direction of their choice. They can use body language, gestures, nods, confirming voices such as “yes” to guide the speakers. No other types of feedback, including negative feedback, is allowed.
  • To guide the conversation the listners need to have a goal. Ask the listeners to think of a Goal Statement which is what they would use throughout the converstion to guide their speaker partner towards the direction of their choice as identified by the Goal Statement. 
  • Ask listners to write their Goal Statements on a piece of paper. They should then fold their papers and place them in front of them. This is done to have a reference of the statement for later. The topics should not be obvious but can be anything delegates like:
    • I love working with clay and making sculptures.
    • We pay too much tax these days.
    • Governments are becoming too powerful.
    • I love mountain biking.
    • My new tablet computer is the best gadget I ever had.
  • Ask the speakers to come back to the training room.
  • Ask the speakers to start talking about their chosen topic.
  • While talking, the listeners should use positive feedback to guide the conversation towards their Goal Statements.
  • Allocate 10 minutes for this part. Observe the conversations to see if you need to give a bit more time so more listeners achieve their goals. For this you may need to know their goals in advance.
  • After the allocated time, bring back everyone and ask the listeners to declare if they reached their Goal Statements or how close they were to do so. The listeners can now reveal their Goal Statements to their partners and reveal their intentions throughout the conversations.
  • Expect majority of the groups to reach their goals. Surprisingly, despite giving only positive feedback, it is easy to guide the conversation towards a particular topic. Your aim in this exercise is to highlight this critical point.
  • Follow with a discussion to emphasis the point.


Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: 10 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


If you were a listener, did you think the task was almost impossible when you were first told about it? What was the result when you were giving feedback? Did you achieve more than you expected?

If you were a speaker, what did you think of the feedback you received from your partner? Were you aware that you have been systematically led to a particular direction while you were talking? Did you find the conversation pleasant?

What do you think of positive feedback? Do you use positive feedback often at workplace? Do you know any mangers or a person with good communication skills that uses this technique? How do you plan to use positive feedback in the future?

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