One of the most intimidating things to do can be giving feedback when it’s needed. Are you guilty of not telling someone they’ve got something between their teeth and yet it’s all you can look at while you’re talking with them? Don’t want to embarrass them, right? But how mortifying is it to keep working under an assumption that all is going great, when secretly people are commenting behind your back? Despite the awkwardness of it all, people are grateful for honest feedback and it takes courage both sides to give it and hear it. Feedback is a necessity of good relationships and communication so knowing how to do it effectively can make all the difference.

This weeks social compassion challenge is to practice giving feedback, when needed, using this easy to follow guide. How will you know feedback is needed? If you’re tempted to say something about someone behind their back, (i.e. gossip) then feedback is required to address the concern, which might be irritating behaviours or misunderstandings.

This 8 step feedback process was developed by Shari Harley, (, a specialist in speaking candidly and effectively, particularly in workplaces.

  1. Introduce the conversation. “Hi, when you have 2 minutes could we have a talk?” or “I’d really like to talk to you about something, do you have a couple of minutes?” (Feedback is better done quickly so two minutes might just be enough.) Explain what you’re going to talk about and the reason. “I’d like to discuss… and it’s important because…”
  2. Empathise. Say, “This is difficult for me to say and it may be difficult to hear”.
  3. Describe the observed behaviour. Good feedback starts with the words, “I’ve noticed…(e.g. you have an odour)”
  4. Share the impact or result of the behaviour. “I’m concerned that this is causing…(e.g.people to avoid you in the workplace and that might be uncomfortable for you)”
  5. Have some dialogue – talk it out. Allow the recipient to give their perception on the situation. (Often they may be vaguely aware but are unaware of the impact on others)
  6. Make a suggestion or a request for what you’d like the person to do next time. “May I suggest…” or “I’d like to request…” If you’ve got some realistic, practical solutions, offer them.
  7. Build an agreement on the next steps (if any). This means, be clear about what’s expected.
  8. Say thank you. “I know this conversation was difficult. Thank you for having it with me.”

Be prepared that people may still get defensive. That’s normal, but they’ll overcome it more quickly than if you avoid it until it becomes a really big issue. Giving constructive feedback is such a gift. It tells people you care and it provides them with an opportunity to change, minimise embarrassment and eliminates gossiping. Take the challenge!

Warm regards