Contact styles give you deeper description of how a receiver can react to feedback based on Gestalt theory.

Want to work on the contact styles in your company? Book a workshop in feedback for you and your group! 


To project something you hear onto someone else. The receiver can project their reaction to feedback on someone else.

Remember that what you say about someone else can also be valid for you. It is called to be projecting the self on someone else. ”I can see that you are upset about the re-organisation!”. It is probably easier to notice someone else being upset, if you are upset yourself.

Based on the expression ”through knowing yourself, you know others”, I’ve formulated the following expression: ”You get to know yourself better when you become aware of what you are projecting onto others”. Even if it is projected it shouldn’t stop you from giving feedback. You should ask yourself if what you are saying about the other could be right also for you. If you have a trait that you are not so proud of, it easy to project it and then get annoyed by the other person’s behaviour.

If there is frustration and a low level of trust in a system, it might feel releasing to find a black sheep to project it on. This release is though short lasting. A behaviour like this is not benefitting the activity.

As a leader, you receive an unusual high amount of projections because of your role. If you are a leader and one day decide to write your memoire, here is my advice for a title: ”My life as projection screen.”


To accept what is said as a truth without considering or questioning if it’s actually true: ”Swallow without chewing.”

A person that is ruled by the outside world have a easy time introjecting (swallow) what the others have to say as a truth. In a employment interview a person like this could say: ”How am I as a person? Don’t ask me, ask my friends!”

If you know someone that is strongly introjecting – save the feedback that might seem criticising, instead be helpful and ask actively what the receiver thinks about your feedback. This gives the receiver a possibility to reflect on the feedback and avoid unreflected introjection.


accept my faultsLTo not take personal responsibility for the received feedback but instead directing it to the group. Or to agree with the giver of feedback without thinking twice if it’s correct or not.

A confluent person has a hard time sharing her experience of the meeting with another person, as she sees everything as a greater ”we”. This is something appreciated or natural in many cultures with a collective focus, and not something negative.


To become silent, closed and process the things that have been said within. It can result in self punishment. Alternatively, it resolves it self in silence.

It is difficult to see how the feedback is received when giving feedback to a retroflective person since they usually shut themselves in. A retroflective person does not give others feedback but instead keep what they experience to themselves. If your silence makes others unsure of what you think or how you feel, silence is power.


A deflective person does not take in anything from its surroundings. To turn aside, reject, joke, change the subject, pretending not to hear, and so on, ”That’s just common sense!” Or: ”I didn’t do it like that!”

When someone rejects feedback, without thinking about what the giver is saying or whether there’s anything to it – the recipient is said to be deflecting.

If, on the other hand, the recipient listened and reflects on what the giver says and then rejects it for whatever reason, this isn’t deflection (or, rather, it is conscious deflection) It may be that the recipient has concluded that the feedback isn’t about her, only about the giver.

An expression that is loosing its value because its so often abused is ”I hear what you are saying” or ”I hear you” – with the strong implication that I not only have I listened but I am really reflecting over what I’ve heard. Unfortunately, the expression is often used when we actually mean ”I haven’t heard what you said and I don’t intend to take it in.” If someone responds with ”I hear what you are saying” and you still feel that the recipient hasn’t heard or taken it in, you can simply ask, ”What did you hear, and what do you think about it?”

Consultants brought in by an organization sometimes point things out that some people are uncomfortable hearing. Instead of taking ownership of the issue and what needs to change (which also means taking responsibility for it), people may project their own lack of confidence and ability onto the consultants, deflecting the issue and belittling the consultants as confused, sloppy or unprofessional. The disadvantage of this reaction is that it will probably lead to a continuation of old patterns and a lack of development.


To not be interested in what the giver of feedback has to say. An egotistical person thinks she’s worth more that others. She’s in love with herself but has no feelings for others. Egotism is the opposite of being externally driven, with the additions that the person isn’t caring in his relationships with others. ”I don’t care what you have to say.” The speaker is treated as nothing more than a fly buzzing in the recipient’s ear.