Our research shows that about 75 percent of the time you can get people to give themselves feedback, and we call it self-directed “feed forward” rather than feedback. Giving themselves feedback, is actually a status reward for them, rather than a status threat.
Let’s say you’ve just blown a client meeting and I’m your boss and I know the meeting’s gone badly. If I say to you, “That meeting went badly — what went wrong?” you’re going to defend yourself. You’re going to feel the status attack, and all your cognitive resources will go toward defending yourself.
But what if I say to you: “You’re a smart person. I bet you’ve been thinking about that meeting. What are your thoughts on what you’ll do next time?” Then I’m giving you a chance to look good, and you’ll now reflect and think deeply about what you might do next time. If there’s not a strong threat, and you’re not fighting against something, it does turn out to be intrinsically rewarding for people to talk about how they might do something better next time. You can get to good insights and useful ways forward.