The Best way to use the Ask-Tell-Ask Feedback Model to Promote Reflection and Self-Assessment.


I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.’

-Lou Holtz

In our lifetime we work and come across many people. These include our co-workers, our bosses, our colleagues or juniors and even friends. Every person is different in personality. They got different thinking patterns and opinions. And many times we feel like giving feedback to these people for their actions. However, if you are not delivering your opinions in right way, you are wasting your time. Just imagine talking to a wall. As Dale Carnegie has stated- ‘Any fool can criticize, condemn or complain and most fools do. 

Giving feedback is a key to every organisation and workplace. Giving effective feedback is a task where many people fail at times. Ask-tell-ask model of feedback helps to give targeted, effective feedback. It encourages the person to self identify strengths and weaknesses. Self-assessment is the main ingredient of the feedback model. This feedback model gives scope for increased accountability. 

What is Ask-Tell-Ask feedback?

The name itself suggests that it’s just not telling and saying. It includes asking questions with the same appeal as giving advices. 

Ask- Feedback is all the matter of perception. If you see as shouting, talking too much or been rude can solve the problem, then it’s not a feedback but just a recipe for disaster as it will only drive the other person away or worse make them aggressive. It is the choice you make to be calm and understanding. So the first step to this model is, to ASK. Here ask means that you first ask the other person for permission to give feedback. For example- ‘May I suggest some great ideas that will not create such a situation in the future?’

Here ASK also means the first step of your two way conversation.

You can also begin with addressing the situation such as- This morning; we got complaints from our clients that they haven’t received the mail. May I know the reason for this? If there is anything you don’t understand you can clarify your doubts with me. The person will talk. Always know that there are two sides of the coin and its not necessary that the person who you are giving feedback is completely at fault. Asking questions will shed light on new various reasons. The person may be facing some problems such as workload or personal issues. You may never know until you let the mother person talk, If you know them once, you are open to give your advice now.

Tell- This is the toughest part as you have to say things that involves actions. Ask yourself before saying anything- Will it help the other person? Or will it help me? Or will it make the other person aggressive? Don’t use phrases like- I hate it when you---- or I am warning you----- etc. Either the person will get defensive or worse won’t care about your feedback at all. Again it would be waste of your time. Let your message be simple and specific to individual and situations.

Ask- Your last questions can include- 

Hope you understood the concepts/ ideas I gave. Right?

What do you feel about them? Are they feasible for you?

What are your thoughts? Would you like to move forward and improve?

This last step of feedback model assures that the receiver understood the feedback well and you have successfully invested into the process. If there are still doubts you can clarify them too. 

Hence ask-tell-ask is a 3 step easy process of giving effective feedback.

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