Most of us feel a bit anxious about giving feedback; we may say things like “it is easy to give positive feedback, but it is difficult to give negative feedback”; at times we may strive to turn the negative feedback into “constructive feedback“; and sometimes we may forget to give positive feedback.

When we think of feedback in terms of positive or negative, we are actually thinking about our own perception and evaluation of what observed. Yet, the observed actions or behaviours are neither positive or negative “per se”. What we observe are actions or behaviours that may or may not produce the desired consequences.

Without knowing the intention of the person in question, we may draw conclusions based on assumptions.

We want to offer an alternative perspective: share your factual observation and invite an open dialogue.

We suggest the following steps:

1. State your specific and factual observation to the person (e.g. “I noticed that you have ignored the input of a key stakeholder”)

2. Enquire as to the intention or awareness of the feedback-receiver (e.g. “Did you make a conscious choice to ignore? Was it intentional to ignore?”)

3. Listen with open mind to the perspective of the receiver (e.g. “I actually decided to ignore” or “No, I did not realise I ignored, I was busy with pushing things ahead”)

4. Share, if necessary, your own impressions and/or signal possible consequences for the sake of learning (e.g. “I would like to share with you that i felt uneasy that this input was quickly discounted, I thought it had merits and I was also afraid that the comment could come back as an issue a a later time, slowing us down”)

5. Invite an honest, courageous and respectful dialogue, holding your own position loosely, showing genuine curiosity about the perspective of the receiver. Accept the possibility that your perception might be an incorrect reading of the situation. Stay also open to the fact that, if your feedback comes as a surprising input, you may have hit a “blind spot” which is a great opportunity for learning and growth, but which might also raise a number of emotional reactions (denial, defensiveness, justifications, frustration, self-doubt); learning is tough. Give time to think it over, if needed. And keep your door open for further discussions at a later point in time.

6. Keep it simple and short; feedback is not a shrink session. Trust that the person will be able to learn from it and delegate the responsibility to choose a potential course of action for adjustment.

7. Avoid at all costs to give unsolicited advice (“You should never ignore a key stakeholder”) or pass a judgment (“It is wrong to ignore a key stakeholder”)


Interested in digging more into the subject?

Join us for a free webinar on “Courageous and Respectful Feedback that builds Engagement and Performance”

Tuesday, December 2, at 16:00 CET

Thursday, January 15, at 11:00 CET

(register by mail:


Or, if you wish to practice with your own team, at your own European premises, ask us for a one day “Courageous and Respectful Feedback that builds Engagement and Performance” Workshop; we can deliver it in a number of languages (French, Italian, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Spanish and English); contact:


The Grooa Team

The “Leading with a Smile” Coaching Consultants

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