Team Workshop

Feedback using “I Statements”

Improve Communication by making feedback less confronting
70-90 minutes
4-12 people
Remote & on-site


Giving and receiving feedback is a crucial part of communication in the work process. But sometimes it’s difficult to formulate good feedback. Poor feedback can easily result in misunderstanding or blame and therefore hinder effectiveness as well as lead to social problems in the workplace.

In this exercise, the focus is on describing other people’s behavior more objectively while allowing the speaker to express the impact on their feelings and thus enable more constructive feedback as well as improved communication.

Team workshop instructions


  • Sticky notes for all team members & a whiteboard to arrange them on
  • A list of 3 imaginary but realistic, work-related conflict / feedback scenarios
  • Exemplary scenarios (develop your own to make them more authentic for your team if possible)
    • You are working on a group project and one member is not completing their portion. You repeatedly had to finish their work.
    • Your boss keeps dumping new work on you with little instruction and not enough time. Despite working overtime, you’re weeks behind.
    • You are working in a team and one member is always pushing through their idea without regarding your opinion or feelings.
    • A colleague has repeatedly dumped their tasks and responsibilities on you, leading to you neglecting your own work. You feel they have taken advantage of your politeness.

Check-In (5 minutes)

  • Welcome the team and use a check-in question to help everyone become present. (Proposal: Let everyone share the name of their first pet and have group guess which animal it was.)
  • Introduce the workshop’s goal and overview.

Goal: Help everyone to become a better feedback provider using objective I-statements

Overview: Find out what “good feedback” means to use and learn to use I-statements in a small group exercise.

Step 1 (10 minutes): Individual Brainstorming

  • Ask the team which 3 aspects a “good feedback” should and 3 aspects it shouldn’t include.
  • Everyone has 10 minutes to write down their thoughts on sticky notes: 1 sticky per aspect. Use different colored stickies for “should” and “shouldn’t” or ask to start each card with a “+” or “-” accordingly.

This step helps the team align on what constructive feedback means for them.

Step 2 (10 minutes): Presentation

  • Let everyone present their cards and place them on a whiteboard.
  • Let each presenter arrange their cards to make sure that similar ideas are grouped together.
  • When everyone is done, summarize the groups and ask the team if they’d like to clarify or re-arrange something.

Step 3 (10 minutes): Introduction to group exercise

  • Explain the concept of providing feedback using “I Statements” (see explanation below) and give some examples for a good “I Statement”.
  • Divide the team into pairs of two (or three) and present your 3 prepared scenarios to the group.

Introducing “I Statements”
A good way to avoid offending someone with your feedback is to describe the behavior you observed in a descriptive and objective manner. Only after having presented the observation objectively, you are allowed to also express subjectively why you think behavior might be harmful. Also, always end on a benevolent open question to encourage a constructive reaction: Template:

When {situation}, I observed that {behavior}. I feel {feeling} because {negative consequence}. What do you think?
  • Situation Help the feedback recipient to understand the context of your observation
  • Behavior Name the specific observation you made
  • Feeling How you felt in that moment
  • Negative Consequence Why might this bad behavior cause problems for either the group or even impede personal goals?


  • When we had our weekly meeting last Monday, I observed that you cut Rachel off when she presented her objections. I feel irritated because Rachel’s ideas have proven invaluable in the past and I fear that she won’t share her objections in the future if we don’t value her contributions. What do you think?
  • When we discussed our project progress earlier today, I observed that you didn’t report any progress on your part. I feel disappointed because you didn’t even bother to provide an excuse and to me it seems that you are not committed. What’s wrong?

Step 4 (15 minutes): Group exercise

  • Each pair now formulates appropriate “I statements” for each scenario provided. (5 minutes per scenario should be enough)
  • If you are short in time, you can cut it to 2 scenarios and save 5 minutes.

Step 5 (10-20 minutes): Presentation

  • Let the pairs share their “I statements” with the team.
  • Ask the others to note which aspects caught their attention but don’t allow to share reactions or comments from the others yet.

When providing feedback, team members can check whether the statement …

  • includes a specific, objective observation
  • includes the speaker’s feelings & fears
  • ends on an inviting, open question

Ending & Checkout (10 minutes)

  • Let the team reflect on how they felt formulating “I statements”: Did they find it hard to come up with the statements? If so, why did they find it hard?
  • Which examples from step 5 did they find especially interesting or questionable?
  • As a check-out round, ask everyone to share their personal take-away and what they’d like to implement in their daily work.

First Aid ⛑🩹

  • Team members struggle to come up with “I statements”

    Instruct the pair to discuss possible sentences together. If they still cannot think of one, let them skip it and discuss it later with the whole team to help finding solutions.

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