Submitted by rthibode on
I know this is a picky point, but it's been driving me a little crazy.
The MT feedback model uses the present tense:
"When you [u]do[/u] X, this is what happen[u]s[/u]."
Elsewhere, I've learned that it's very important to be specific about the behaviour in question and avoid overgeneralizing. I interpret this to mean that when I give feedback, I should use the past tense to refer to the specific incident when the behaviour took place:
"When you [u]did[/u] X, this is what happen[u]ed[/u]."
Folks familiar with the psychological concept "locus of control" might recognize this issue.** From that perspective, it would be good to use the present tense when giving affirming feedback because that would convey that the recipient has a tendency or trait that is positive. It is part of who they are. They internalize it and continue the behaviour.
In contrast, it might be better to use the past tense when giving adjusting feedback. That would convey that the recipient made a mistake once. It is simply a behaviour, not part of who they are, and can more easily be changed.
**For a very brief description and a test, see http://discoveryhealth.queendom.com/lc_short_access.html[/u][/i]
"When you do X" or "When you did X"?
Yes, but of course.
The present tense is intended to simulate playing a movie for the recipient, to get them back into their behavior and relive what it caused. It's very effective, and after using it half a million times, have never had someone balk at tense. It also suggests - in my opinion, quite rightly - that they are of a mind to continue doing whatever they just did.
And, using past tense also works just fine too.
Careful of being driven crazy by picky points. The world of management has many BIG points that will drive you crazy. If picky ones do too, it's going to be a long road. :wink: