I like to distinguish between two types of feedback -- personal and business. It's not that one works exclusively in business, and the other personal -- there may be times in personal relationships where you provide pointed business-like feedback or coaching, and vice versa.
But using I-messages really leverages the other person's empathy, and is geared toward building closeness, trust, and intimacy. Alternatively, the STAR model was designed by Development Dimensions, International (DDI), Inc. the premier HR Consulting firm as a leadership tool.
I-Messages (Personal Feedback)
I feel ______(your emotion),
When you__(describe specific behavior)
Because I __(tell something about yourself)
I would like__(share your specific wish)
Some pitfalls people find in using the I-message include:
Describing what they think the other person is doing to them in step-1. ("I feel falsely accused") What belongs here is an emotion that allows the other person to know the feeling-level impact on you.
Using always/never, or characterizing the other person. ("when you pull that macho act," instead of "shout at our teenage son")
Too much information in step 3. Step 3 is optional, and be careful about it: Too much information dilutes the power of your message.
Not specific in step 4. Nothing is wrong with "I would like you to know this."
If you can use the I message, as described, avoiding the pitfalls, you can pretty much be guaranteed that your communication will be assertive, neither passive nor aggressive -- nor abusive. Of course, no guarantee that your request will be acted-upon, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you let the person know the
impact they are having, and what you would like.
Remember that you can use I-messages for positive feedback -- not just negative. And positive reinforcement is more powerful than negative in conditioning behavior. :)