Giving Good Feedback Exercise
Why try to raise the quality and quantity of feedback?
In Second Stage Groups, it is a central goal of group leaders to teach the group members
to give each other good feedback In the optimal situation, as many group members as
possible become “group facilitators.” The co-facilitators should always be trying to raise
the quantity and quality of both the individual and group feedback because it makes the
groups more interesting for the members, it is a proven learning tool, and ultimately it
can make the group process less stressful for the co-facilitators.
Unfortunately, this can be a slow and sometimes difficult process. There are abusers who
lack group skills, do not feel comfortable talking in groups, and are unmotivated or
simply hostile. While as co-facilitators we cannot realistically expect to have the exact
same results with each group member, we must expect that all group members will
routinely offer good feedback. Otherwise, the other more active group members will feel
it is unfair and quieter group members will fade into the background.
After an extended period of group feedback the facilitators should evaluate the quality of
the feedback. The facilitators should look for aspects or instances of feedback that they
can praise and gradually raise the standards for praise as time goes by. We strongly
believe that praise can be a highly effective and sometimes underrated part of the group
The group leaders should solicit feedback from group members in a wide variety of
situations in the group. Emerge recommends that they periodically do an extended
tutorial on giving good feedback and also do quick reviews or “mini-lessons” just prior to
a specific extended “turn” or activity, such as relationship histories or goals.
“Giving good feedback” as an extended activity
The group leaders should explain to the group the reasons for focusing on giving good
feedback. The following are suggestions for what can be said.
1) “Group members are all in the same boat. You all know what it is like to be in a
relationship and to be abusive. You can help the other people by offering constructive
criticism and advice that helps them think differently about their partners and their
relationship. This gives them alternatives to do things in a different, non-abusive way.
This kind of feedback helps to hold everyone to a higher standard.”
2) “When group members practice giving good feedback, the experience helps teach you
as well as the other group members to think more constructively about your own
relationships. That’s because when you give good feedback you have to use all the
concepts of the program.”
Following this introduction, we suggest that you use a brainstorm activity to help the
group identify the differences between good and bad feedback. Start with examples of
bad feedback. This will help lay the groundwork for understanding good feedback. The
list should minimally include the following:
Negative bonding: “My wife nags me just like yours does.”
Cheap Sympathy: “I think you did a really good job” You’re doing fine,
keep it up
Quick fixes: “Just say you’re sorry, take her out to dinner”
Making excuses for other men’s abuse: “Jim probably wouldn’t have
yelled at her if he didn’t have a few beers in him”
Blaming the victim: “I think some victims ask for it”
Superficial or vague comments
Being disrespectful or overly critical “That was stupid, Jim; I can’t believe
you did that”
Being condescending “That’s not what I would have done but its probably
the best Jim could do”
Being bored “I can’t believe we’re still talking about this”.
The group leaders could choose to list the criteria for good feedback and then discuss the
list. Alternatively, the facilitators could again do a group brainstorm around the following
two questions. “What does good feedback focus on? What does good feedback look
Looks at negative self-talk, and asks for more specifics about what it is.
Ask if the person is respectful of the partner’s wishes
Asks the abuser to put the partner’s feelings ahead of their own
Comments on “building a case” against the partner
Focuses on the abuser’s behavior, not the partner’s; pays attention to her feelings,
not the abuser’s
Looks at whether or not the abuser is setting up the story to gain sympathy and
look like a victim
Looks at whether or not the abuser is being respectful of the partner’s wishes
Slows down the story so that the group can understand what happened step by
step. What did the group member say and do, what did she say and do?
Examines the choice points in the story. At what point in the action did he start to
make bad thinking and behavior choices?
Asks, “What’s her point of view?” If she were in the group room, how would she
report what happened and what she was feeling at various points in the story?
Looks for important contextual information he isn’t telling the group. For
example, if it’s an incident where she is “picking”, “nagging”, or “just going on
and on” about something, is there a long history of the abuser’s failure to listen or
Looks at the likely short-term and long-term impact of the behavior on the partner
Examines how this incident or situation reflects the broader pattern of his abusive
or controlling behavior in his relationship
Looks at whether or not the behavior the group member is reporting is in keeping
with his established goals in the program? (refer to specific goals)
Asks, “What could the group member do differently to avoid being abusive?
What specific positive self-talk should the client make better use of in the
Other tips to solicit and respond to feedback
Encourage clients who are giving the feedback to use examples from their own
history of abuse. “I faced the same kind of situation with my partner “Mary” and
when I did what you just explained she said that it felt like this… Is that what
happened in your situation as well?”
Group leaders need to interrupt group feedback that supports negative bonding
against the partner.
Call on experienced and hopefully well qualified, high functioning group
members to offer feedback and set a good example.
Call on or prompt less experienced or reluctant group members to give feedback
and then offer immediate constructive comments if they need improvement.
Group members who are receiving feedback should be urged to listen carefully
Intimidation by a group member must be addressed and stopped if the facilitators
hope to build a good group process. There are some men who through their
demeanor and behavior can be intimidating to other group members.
When a group member actively resists participating by learning to give good
feedback, the group leaders must first try coaching the client. If coaching doesn’t
work, group leaders must take further steps such as an explicit feedback contract
that numerically specifies the number of acceptable instances of feedback that the
client must give in every group.