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Reduce Anxiety About Giving Feedback: Use COIN To Plan Your Message

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

C is for Connection You’ll need to connect this feedback to the goal you share with this person. What are both of you trying to accomplish? Say it, even if it should be obvious. Maybe it is satisfying customers. Maybe it is working more efficiently.

Start with something like “I know we both want repeat business from our customers.” If you know of a personal aspiration this person has—related to this goal—mention that too! For example: “You mentioned wanting to become a team lead as soon as possible.”

You have just connected what you are about to say to something the other person values.

O is for Observations that are specific Mention behavior or evidence you have observed and make it specific. If you speak too vaguely the feedback recipient will be clueless about what they need to improve. Use examples of your observations.

For example: “You’ve been handling these customers and they perceive you are not following up with them. X and Y have called me to escalate their concern.”

Now you’re on the same page about the behavior they will need to change.

I is for Impact This is the missing piece for a lot of feedback receivers. They don’t get why this matter is a big deal. Maybe they didn’t have time. Maybe they don’t see how their actions can cause negative consequences for the business. So tell them why their behavior matters and how it impacts business or others.

For example: “We’ve not received the repeat orders they had planned to give us.”

N is for Next Steps Don’t end the conversation without suggesting, and receiving agreement from them, how to make changes and improve their approach.

The Feedback Imperative book

Learn More

Read The Feedback Imperative for more information on how to give great feedback!

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