Courageous Authenticity: The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback

What does feedback mean to you? As the year-end approaches, this question may become more relevant to you. In this video, we discuss the role feedback plays in our careers and our lives.

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Today’s video will be about courageous authenticity and the art of giving and receiving feedback.

Why feedback matters

I personally have a few very critical memories of feedback in my mind that are probably 15-20 years old. In two instances, a courageous and gutsy boss of mine really took the time to give me two important pieces of feedback in key moments of my career. It was fairly harsh. It wasn’t the how, but the what of what she was saying to me. It truly was fairly hard to receive. But her actions allowed me so much growth, so much maturity, and I’m still running toward and really leveraging what she told me in those days. Until today, I think about it regularly. 20 years later.

The reason why I think feedback is essential in any relationship is that it immediately clears and airs any potential issues. You deal with them courageously, slowly but surely. You don’t let issues become dramas.

How to give constructive feedback

Here are some ways to construct feedback that could help you in in having those difficult conversations. When you decide to give some feedback, be it to your boss, to a peer, to somebody with whom there may be power dynamics at play, one good way is always to think about the kind of impact that this person has when talking to you.

So, if you talk to somebody who has a very prominent style, a bombastic style, one that tends to shut people down, don’t begin giving feedback with phrases like “Your style is very offensive to me.” Because you know where that’s going to go with this personality type, it’s a criticism. But if you say “Here’s how the way you talk to me impacts me. When you speak like this, it shuts me down and I stumble over my words. English is not my mother tongue. I am destabilized and I don’t think I give the best of me at that moment. So, it would be helpful to me if you could try a softer and slower pace.” That’s thinking about the impact that this has on you. So, it’s not about you per se as a person. It’s about the impact that what you’re doing has on me. That’s always a good way to think about things and express them.

Another aspect of constructive feedback that I cannot stop emphasizing is precision. Think about a precise situation, precise words, maybe a specific date or a specific meeting. The more precise you are when you give feedback, the more the person will understand clearly what you’re talking about and almost put themselves back in that moment. “Remember that particular meeting? Just think about it. Let’s go back into that moment for 2 minutes, this is what happened. And the impact on me or the impact on the team has been such and such.” I think precision and anchoring feedback around notions of impact is always a good way to make it neutral and not aggressive. That’s really where you want to strike the balance, a very clear balance between criticism and feedback. Feedback is not about a behavior or a situation, it’s not a microaggression. A criticism is a microaggression, and the difference is often in the angle and phrasing you choose.

How to receive feedback

The other piece to it is when you’re going to receive feedback, what’s on you? When you’re about to receive feedback, ‘what’s on you’ is to voice if it’s the right time or not. If that’s the right topic you want to receive feedback about. It’s the how you want to receive feedback. It’s about listening and being open minded. Know that the person has your best interests in mind and at that moment, be open minded. Let the person come with their points. Don’t negotiate. It’s a gift they’re giving to you. It’s hard enough, maybe for the person to give you that feedback, to negotiate. Feedback is not an evaluation.

So, if you need precision, or clarification, ask for precision or clarification, but don’t negotiate. Thank the person for what they said. Then your work begins. Take your time. Think about it, process it, and decide what you want to do with this feedback. How much of it do you decide to take on? How much consideration will you give it? A good way is always to look at whether or not it bruised your ego. When the honest answer is yes, maybe this feedback is something to it to look into. Is that something you already heard, is it something you already knew about yourself but chose to ignore? That would be a signal that maybe it is about time to do something for about it.

The effect of feedback is to help you grow and mature and evolve on some aspects of who you are and how you do things. Take this opportunity to think about what the signal behind that feedback truly is. What is it that I could be doing differently and therefore be more effective?

I hope that now with that, you have all the ingredients you need to have a powerful, authentic, courageous feedback time in your year-end reviews, with your peers, bosses, or subordinates and I hope you also felt how passionate I feel about this topic. You can contact me on, on my LinkedIn page Bogliolo Coaching and Consulting. If you want more details, I’m here to support you in going through difficult but effective feedback conversations.

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