As your mind races to fill in the rest of the story.

“Do I really have to give this feedback? …How are they going to react?…”

Whether you are the giver or receiver of feedback. Hearing or seeing those words can cause a high level of stress.

Possibly, we’ve forgotten the intention of feedback is about:

In this article, you’ll find some ways to get past the awkwardness and start feeling confident to deliver actionable feedback that is thoughtful and clear.

About 85% of employees worldwide are actively disengaged in the workplace, and giving consistent feedback means there is an ongoing conversation.

Most people do want to grow and be more efficient, productive, and happier and would welcome actionable feedback to get there.

63% of employees want to receive feedback more regularly.

The challenge is that we’ve all had those ‘can we talk’ types of feedback that felt focused on our personality flaws rather than improvements in our processes.

When giving feedback, it’s not what you say; people get defensive because of why they think you’re saying it.

Start Here:

Are you clear on the intention behind your words? Or are you too task-focused?

Think of this example:

Next, Ask Yourself:

What is my motive for giving feedback? If you let your frustrations be your guide…You’ve set yourself and Chris up for feedback failure

When that happens, your words, tone of voice, body language, and choice of words are influenced by your emotion – frustration.

This leads to an unconscious intention to possibly make Chris feel smaller.

Re-write the Script:

Change your motive. Set up the feedback for success.

Your intention NOW is to help Chris grow – to focus on the future and not the past.

Be curious, not assumptive. Try these thoughts to assume positive intent.

When you are clear on your intentions, you are answering their ‘Why are they giving me this feedback?’ inner talk.

If Chris has feedback that is focused on a mutual purpose and keeps their goals in mind, they will be more open to receiving it now, and in the future.

Try to be Soft on the Person, Hard on the Problem

We tend to react to events emotionally first and then use logic to substantiate them. If you set a safe climate to give actionable feedback and make your why clear to the other person, their temperature lowers, their stomach untightens, and they can hear the logic behind the emotions.

As the book Getting To Yes says, ‘separate the people from the problem’ or soft on the person, hard on the problem.

Picture sitting side by side with the person and looking at the problem together, as opposed to taking sides.

Set a Precedent for Feedback:

Include giving stand alone positive, specific feedback, without saying “but” after.

92% of employees agree that when they’re recognized for a specific action, they’re more likely to take that action again in the future.

Giving genuine recognition is important feedback. It’s more than a high five, which is nice but short-lived.

Try Using This Thought for Positive Feedback:

“Chris, you did well, because . . .”

It’s the ‘because’ that’s important here, showing the effect their action had.

You release their oxytocin – the neurotransmitter linked to warm, fuzzy feelings and includes trust, empathy, positive memories, a bonding cue, and positive communication.

That’s what’s going to stick and make the behaviour repeatable.

  1. Start with a clear intention that is focused on the person’s growth, not just the task.
  2. Focus on the process, not their personality.
  3. Choose to listen with the intention of making the other person feel bigger, not smaller.
  4. When they feel heard and understood, they will hear your questions and statements. You’ve got thoughtful and actionable feedback.

Ready to Master Feedback?

If you want to delve deeper into mastering the art of feedback and enhancing your professional relationships, consider our course:


An effective, professional feedback delivery can be the spark that ignites the change you want to see in your team.

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