How to Give Feedback in a Crucial Conversation | Women in Tech Coaching Circle Series

Tara Rhodes

March 12, 2018

One thing we know EVERYONE does not do well is giving (and receiving) feedback – it’s the first place we start our training at every organization we work at! Many of us think we are giving feedback to others in a constructive, non-hurtful way, and the reality is we often use judgmental, accusatory language that frames the other person as the one to blame, instead of focusing on the facts and behaviour.

The more feedback people receive, the more engaged they will be in the workplace (#truestory). Consistent communication is connected to higher engagement.

Why does higher engagement matter? More engaged employees means that organizations are focusing on the things that matter most and so the goals of the company are achieved faster and with greater success, and includes their ability to do what they do best, a focus on a good work-life balance/personal well-being, stability and good income. The key to all of this is giving feedback – the ability to give (and receive) feedback, constructive or otherwise, is critical to successful leadership.

We advocate that organizations foster open and honest feedback, that their leaders role model this daily so that we create a stronger ecosystem that’s more accountable productive and innovative!

Our intention at our latest workshop, “Feedback in Crucial Conversations”, was to ensure participants had a safe space to learn the most effective steps in having a crucial conversation, and role play with each other so they could identify areas they need to be mindful of improving.

We strive that people walk away with a practical tool that can be used right now, and is easy to follow. Our hope is that people see how easy it is and are inspired to start giving feedback on a regular (hello daily!) basis. In light of this, here is our feedback model – a simple five-step approach. Here is the break down to prepare you for what you want to say:


1. Put the person at ease. Be positive and explain your intention while giving context for the receiver.

2. State observable, specific behaviour. Do not use judgmental or labelling language (wrong/right, lazy, always/never).

3. Relay the impact. Tie the behaviour to the perceived impact to the company, team and you/them

4. Next Steps. Check in and see if they are open to receiving what you are saying. Explore alternatives.

5. Closure. Obtain agreement on the follow-up. Thank them.


We know it can be hard to raise your voice when there are so many people that know so much and are so good at what they do. It’s important to seek out support from people you trust so you get good, usable feedback and advice to help you through when it feels hard. Build your bench strength – you can’t do it all, so rely on those who are better to help you where you need support.

The conversation isn’t over. The ability to give feedback and improving at doing it doesn’t stop. We want to empower you to be in control of your feelings in the moment and be able to stand for what you need to say, even if the situation you are giving feedback and it does not feel safe. Our next coaching circle is all about this exploration Join us at our next event by buying a ticket here.

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