How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

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As an executive coach, some of the saddest moments I witness is when someone gets feedback…too late. “I was shocked” said one leader to me recently. “It felt like a kick in the stomach coming from someone I trusted.” Her voice cracked as she said this to me. It was clear she was trying to contain her emotion. This leader had been recently asked to take a demotion “out of the blue.” Lack of honest feedback is the biggest career derailer I know of.

As we approach the end of the year and enter 2017, it’s important each of us take the time to give and receive honest feedback. I am a big believer that we each come from a place of good intentions. No supervisor walks in the office thinking “today I will be a jerk.” No direct report decides “today I will ignore all the signals that something may be wrong.” Yet, this is what I witness all too often: supervisors who don’t give feedback directly enough and direct reports who aren’t asking for feedback or paying attention to the cues that something may be wrong. Incredible as it sounds, l see insufficient feedback as an improvement opportunity in 100% of my executive coaching engagements. Insufficient feedback costs organizations millions in lost talent, productivity, trust, and engagement.

Why don’t we give and get honest, direct feedback? Giving and receiving tough feedback is uncomfortable. The giver doesn’t want to hurt feelings or deal with uncomfortable emotions. The receiver may not want to confront news that they are not performing to expectations. I say this with humility as I’ve been on both sides of this, and at one point in my career had to confront the shock of a demotion myself. What I learned from this experience is that I had ignored all the signals, and the greatest impact of this was on me!

Accountability for getting feedback lies with you! Yes, we want all leaders to take accountability too. Yet, no one has more at stake than you when it comes to managing your career. So here are five steps to ensure that you’re getting the feedback you need. Please share this with others in your organization and network (including those you would like to exchange feedback with).

Five Steps To Get Feedback

Create a mindset for yourself and your team that feedback is a gift. As cliché as that sounds, changing mindset about feedback is the first step to reduce everyone’s blood pressure around giving and receiving it. All good feedback conversations have one simple goal: to help the individual grow in their self-awareness and be more successful. The truth is that we cannot change a person without their consent. We can give them information that will be helpful for them. From there it is up to the person to decide. This takes the pressure off the giver and the receiver of the feedback.

Ensure that all feedback starts with strengths. In my executive coaching work, I am often surprised at how little people know about what strengths help them be successful – and this is truly a waste of talent. Ask the feedback giver what helps you be successful in achieving the results you’ve achieved. You may be tempted to spend less time on strengths. Don’t let humility get in the way of really knowing yourself and your impact.

Dig deep for examples of behaviors. Ask the feedback giver for context. Don’t settle for “you’re a good communicator”. Ask probing questions such as “When did you see me doing that well?”. Equally, don’t settle for “You need to develop more executive presence”. Ask “what behaviors do you see in others that are examples of good executive presence?” Do your best to be curious rather than defensive.

Get feedback from your boss, peers, and direct reports to create a 360-degree feedback loop. Get feedback from anyone who you’ve worked with and impacted, both inside your team and outside. Even if your organization doesn’t have formal year-end 360 feedback, meet informally with colleagues to get their input.

Make sure to reach out to the “difficult” relationships. Inevitably, leaders I talk to who have been shocked by feedback, are able to remember signals they had ignored that had made them feel uncomfortable. They noticed tension in the relationship. The person was avoiding them. They were left out of key meetings. Each of us has colleagues where the working relationship has tension. In my book, Wired for Authenticity I devote a whole chapter to “Face the Dragon”, practices to face the fear and discomfort and do what needs to be done. Remember, the “difficult person” probably feels that same tension. Reaching out for feedback will help to restore greater trust in the relationship. This is one of my bigger regrets in my career. Don’t let it be yours.

The information above may not be new to you. What’s next is up to you. What’s at stake for you is your career and growth as a leader as well as the influence and impact you will have in your organization. Will you take action?

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

It’s never easy taking criticism. You spent so much time and poured in so much effort—only to have your hard work ripped apart.

Many of us are familiar with the saying, “no pain, no gain.” Generally speaking, I like to avoid or prevent things that can hurt me. When it comes to feedback, however, it pays off to be different! I (try to) embrace the discomfort.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s never painless. We all still feel anxious, scared, and worried when receiving feedback.

“Will they think less of me?”

“If something I wrote is bad, will they think I’m not smart?”

“Oh no, they figured out I flunked that history test in 7th grade.”

Don’t fret—this feeling is totally natural!

According to Kimberly Leitch, a licensed clinical social worker at Talkspace, receiving feedback triggers a stress response from the incoming judgment, which is often coming from someone in a position of authority.

So if this is a natural way our bodies respond to feedback or criticism, then we’re doomed, right? How do we overcome a natural gut reaction like this?

I won’t sugar coat it or lie to you—it’s difficult, but not impossible. You can still feel 100% in control as you face the looming terror of criticism. These five steps can encourage you to lay down your shield and welcome negative and positive feedback with open arms.

*Doorbell Rings* “Hi. It’s Feedback!”

Sometimes you know feedback is coming, such as before a performance review or if you happened to perform in the latest Broadway craze. Brace yourself! You know it’s coming, so you’ll need to mentally prepare.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

In other cases, you may receive unsolicited feedback. I’ve found the best approach is to simply open yourself up to the possibility of feedback at all times. Accept that you’re not perfect, and that’s quite alright—remember, literally no one is perfect (unless it’s Taco because he’s adorable).

Go ahead and say it with me, “I’m not perfect and that doesn’t make me less of a person.”

Along with having an open mindset, assuming positive intent is critically important. Whoever is giving you feedback is likely on your team and is genuinely trying to identify ways to help make you and your work better. They see your potential and likely want it to shine even brighter!

Occasionally, these things may not be true. Most of the time, however, there are positive intentions at hand. So allow feedback into your life and consider how a new angle or perspective can change your work for the better.

Stop, Collaborate, And Listen

Your first reaction to something critical is most likely going to be negative. You may be anxious, stressed, or even defensive. Take a moment, breathe in deeply, and pause your first reaction.

Process what you’re hearing over a couple of seconds. There’s a good chance you’ll never be able to stop your initial reaction, but you can always attempt to stop your response to it.

As you’re processing what you’re hearing, focus on the trait or issue that’s getting feedback and not on yourself. Remember that your work always has room for improvement (because we’re not perfect). By focusing on the work, you can quell that negative reaction.

Even if the feedback is for you (for example, your performance on that last project), try and separate your traits and skills apart from yourself. It’s easier to process feedback about one small part of yourself, rather than believe it’s criticism targeted at your entire body, mind, and soul.

This can be hard and it’s definitely a skill to develop. Before you say or do anything after getting some feedback, stop, take a breath, and think about what you just heard before providing a response.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

Whether you’re a leader or a peer, part of your responsibility is to give people feedback. Having been raised in a culture that often dances around the truth and tiptoes near insecurities, you may lack the skills required to balance brutal honesty with a sense of compassion.

Think about the feedback you’ve been given. Chances are, in some of those situations, the feedback was hurtful. Other times, after the initial sting subsided, you learned a great deal about yourself.

In the best type of feedback, however, you felt respected, safe, and pushed slightly outside of your comfort zone. That’s because the most effective type of feedback is tailored to the individual–making him or her feel appreciated and pointing out where growth needs to occur.

Finding that perfect mix is easier than you think.

Here is the simple, five-step way to provide difficult feedback:

1. Start by telling someone what you like.

For feedback to be effective, it must be received. To help someone remain open to hearing something that he or she may find injurious, you need to start by giving the person an honest compliment.

Challenge yourself to find something meaningful about the person’s work or intention rather than making up something superficial. Bare-minimum effort on your part will have bare-minimum results.

2. Pause and reflect on your own intentions for providing feedback.

Check yourself. Investigate your value judgments, hyper-criticism, and perfectionist tendencies. Make sure it’s not your obsessive need for control that’s driving you to ask for change in someone’s performance.

While it’s OK to want the person to continue improving, asking someone to meet the demands of your inner critic is counterproductive. If you can’t live up to that voice that tells you your performance is never good enough–it’s unreasonable to expect someone else to uphold your already unrealistic standard.

3. Say what someone could have done differently.

Try taking a more objective approach and seeing the situation for what it is. Provide the person the benefit of the doubt by assuming that he or she did put in effort and didn’t do something incorrect intentionally.

With a sense of calmness, nonjudgment, and non-attachment, show or tell the person what he or she could have done differently to meet your standards.

4. Explain in detail what you’d like the person to do in the future.

Set an intention for the future. This is the moment when you explain exactly what you want and expect from the person next time.

Keep your feedback focused on the work itself rather than attacking the person’s character, which will only breed mistrust and secrets–leading to greater problems in the future.

5. Highlight someone’s strengths by telling the person something he or she does well.

End on a positive note. Instead of simply returning to the first thing you said–something you like–focus on pointing out one of the person’s strengths. A strength is something that goes beyond this one task or event, and translates to all aspects of someone’s work.

Great leaders and inspirational people are able to look beyond the current situation and find the deeper layers of motivation and strengths in others. When you have to give a friend or co-worker feedback, show the person how much you appreciate the value he or she brings, and do your best to inspire the person to work harder in the future.

When people feel respected, appreciated, and challenged to continue growing, they become driven to refine their work and themselves–creating better projects and more enriching lives.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

It’s never easy taking criticism. You spent so much time and poured in so much effort—only to have your hard work ripped apart.

Many of us are familiar with the saying, “no pain, no gain.” Generally speaking, I like to avoid or prevent things that can hurt me. When it comes to feedback, however, it pays off to be different! I (try to) embrace the discomfort.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s never painless. We all still feel anxious, scared, and worried when receiving feedback.

“Will they think less of me?”

“If something I wrote is bad, will they think I’m not smart?”

“Oh no, they figured out I flunked that history test in 7th grade.”

Don’t fret—this feeling is totally natural!

According to Kimberly Leitch, a licensed clinical social worker at Talkspace, receiving feedback triggers a stress response from the incoming judgment, which is often coming from someone in a position of authority.

So if this is a natural way our bodies respond to feedback or criticism, then we’re doomed, right? How do we overcome a natural gut reaction like this?

I won’t sugar coat it or lie to you—it’s difficult, but not impossible. You can still feel 100% in control as you face the looming terror of criticism. These five steps can encourage you to lay down your shield and welcome negative and positive feedback with open arms.

*Doorbell Rings* “Hi. It’s Feedback!”

Sometimes you know feedback is coming, such as before a performance review or if you happened to perform in the latest Broadway craze. Brace yourself! You know it’s coming, so you’ll need to mentally prepare.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

In other cases, you may receive unsolicited feedback. I’ve found the best approach is to simply open yourself up to the possibility of feedback at all times. Accept that you’re not perfect, and that’s quite alright—remember, literally no one is perfect (unless it’s Taco because he’s adorable).

Go ahead and say it with me, “I’m not perfect and that doesn’t make me less of a person.”

Along with having an open mindset, assuming positive intent is critically important. Whoever is giving you feedback is likely on your team and is genuinely trying to identify ways to help make you and your work better. They see your potential and likely want it to shine even brighter!

Occasionally, these things may not be true. Most of the time, however, there are positive intentions at hand. So allow feedback into your life and consider how a new angle or perspective can change your work for the better.

Stop, Collaborate, And Listen

Your first reaction to something critical is most likely going to be negative. You may be anxious, stressed, or even defensive. Take a moment, breathe in deeply, and pause your first reaction.

Process what you’re hearing over a couple of seconds. There’s a good chance you’ll never be able to stop your initial reaction, but you can always attempt to stop your response to it.

As you’re processing what you’re hearing, focus on the trait or issue that’s getting feedback and not on yourself. Remember that your work always has room for improvement (because we’re not perfect). By focusing on the work, you can quell that negative reaction.

Even if the feedback is for you (for example, your performance on that last project), try and separate your traits and skills apart from yourself. It’s easier to process feedback about one small part of yourself, rather than believe it’s criticism targeted at your entire body, mind, and soul.

This can be hard and it’s definitely a skill to develop. Before you say or do anything after getting some feedback, stop, take a breath, and think about what you just heard before providing a response.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.”

Many of us allow other people’s opinions to dictate what we believe, value, or perceive. It’s not always easy to stand up for our beliefs and opinions when others, particularly those we care about, constantly bombard us with their views.

You might be thinking, “No, not me! This never happens to me. I’m strong in voicing my beliefs.”

At one point or another, we all conform our opinions, either to avoid confrontation or judgment or because we’re losing faith in what we feel is right.

Ask yourself, “Do I often justify what I believe after engaging in conversations with others? Am I continuously second guessing myself?” If so, you may be losing yourself.

I used to be someone who always avoided conflict with others at all costs. Needless to say, I was passive by nature, and I shied away from standing up for my beliefs.

I would avoid and distance myself from any means of voicing my opinions. In turn, I became submissive and engaged in both romantic and platonic relationships with people who were more dominating in demeanor.

While I lacked the willpower to express my own ideas, I found myself in a state of annoyance and frustration from allowing others to indirectly control my life. Feeling helpless and unaware of who I really was took a toll on my mental well-being.

I longed for the ability to express my thoughts and opinions freely. I craved the feeling of acceptance by others, without judgments being passed.

I deeply admired and looked up to my sister as a role model, one who possessed the internal strength to be truthful to herself and others, regardless of the consequences.

Sometimes my sister would discuss her issues with her friends and seek my advice, perhaps to validate if she was doing the right thing. Sometimes she wasn’t sure if she was coming on too strong and pushing others away because of her honest and strong-minded nature.

She’d often find herself in situations where she would lose friends. Perhaps her honest opinions were too much to handle.

When she would come to me in full-blown tears, asking me, “Why do my friends keep leaving? Why don’t they understand that I am just trying to help them?” I would respond to her by saying, “They don’t want to hear the truth from you, because sometimes the truth hurts.”

Friends who resent one’s openness and honesty are usually, in turn, not worthy of the friendship.

Looking back at the way I used to be led me to a conclusion. It’s not what you say to others; it’s the manner in which you say it that truly matters.

I finally realized that, although my sister and I had opposing approaches of maintaining our relationships, neither of us was necessarily wrong in the way we went about constructing them.

We often want to give genuine advice or opinions. However, we also need to understand that it’s not always easy to accept the truth. We need to find the balance and set limitations in order to maintain positive relationships.

While I had no problem in maintaining mine, I often felt repressed in terms of being expressive. In contrast, my sister’s strong-minded character eventually caused her relationships to slowly dissipate.

Over the years, I have learned that using appropriate language, word choices, and tone is the key to flourishing relationships.

Speaking constructively and delivering tactful criticism eliminates the chance to pass biases. This also creates a healthy environment and opportunity to grow.

As I’ve matured, I’ve recognized that my opinions actually matter and have the right to be heard. Having said this, I have learned that it is more effective to give an opinion or advice when it is sought.

When I engage in conversations, I always try my best to think before I speak. Then, I contemplate, “Is it worth saying? How will what I say make a difference to this person?”

If I proceed to give my opinion, I then decide, “How can I say this in such as way that it comes across as genuine, yet constructive?”

By nature, we all have the tendency to overreact; it’s important to choose our battles wisely and release the negative energy that surrounds us.

Be real; tell the truth using kind and heartfelt words. Respect will follow.

Even though telling the truth may be difficult for many people, it’s the approach that we take that allows us to earn the respect of others.

Often enough, people are so preoccupied with verbally offending others that we end up feeling as though we need to “walk on egg shells.” We may also end up saying something we didn’t originally intend.

When I was one of those people who worried about what others thought, I allowed my life to be dictated and controlled by someone else’s agenda.

I always felt obligated to adopt the views of my partners and friends, in fear of disappointing and upsetting them. I struggled to find the courage and willpower to rid myself of this imprisonment, in search of a voice, love, and passion.

Through some of my ongoing romantic relationships with over-bearing, possessive men, I have come to terms with the fact that telling the truth will not always yield a positive or expected outcome.

Still, I think that it is most important to be true to yourself. You need to be happy first before you can make others happy, and that means not self-sacrificing for unappreciative, non-reciprocating individuals.

Speaking up for what we believe and sharing our opinions can be helpful and beneficial—when it’s appropriate, kind, constructive, and consistent.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

About Linda Carvalho

Linda Carvalho is a teacher and her deep passion extends to all the students she’s worked with. She believes a child’s growing progress is the most rewarding and self-fulfilling prophecy. She enjoys traveling the world and has a strong passion for writing. Her next goal is to finish a book she’s currently working on and contribute more blogs to Tiny Buddha.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

Franchise Your Business

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

We all get frustrated at work from time to time. However, if you’re consistently unhappy with your boss’s actions, it can take a toll both at work and at home. It’s okay to tell your superiors about your dissatisfaction with certain issues, as long as it’s done properly. Diplomacy is crucial for addressing workplace tensions, and this is especially true if a particular situation involves your boss or another superior.

So what do you do if your boss is driving you up a wall and you feel trapped around it? These options may help provide a way out, or at least relieve some of the pressure.

Offer constructive feedback.

Honest feedback helps bosses and leaders understand how others perceive them. Without an accurate picture, their performances are likely to suffer. Constructive feedback is vital for everyone in the workplace, and providing it to your boss can help him or her see where they may have blind spots. Ultimately, if everyone were to provide this type of thing in an intelligent, respectful manger, it could help everyone in your department or even the whole organization.

It’s also important to know when to provide such feedback. Ideally, you want to wait until you are asked for your input before giving it. If your boss never asks for feedback, then it would be prudent to ask if they want it before offering it. For example, if you and your team are about to undertake a new project, you might ask your boss or manager if he or she would like regular updates and feedback from your unique perspective. Framing it this way will make it easier for you to approach him or her with any concerns.

Respect the chain of command.

Though most workplaces and organizations have some sort of conflict resolution policy, employees often are daunted at the prospect of airing grievances about their bosses. These fears should be overcome if the concerns are genuine and impact the company. If your boss is undermining your ability to do your best work, it’s vital to let him or her know. Don’t let it snowball into a bigger issue that damages your working relationship.

If your company has a conflict resolution policy, it’s important to follow it. If your issue lies between you and the person to whom you directly report, it’s essential to talk to him or her first about the problem. If you try to go over his or her head, chances are good that such a move will not be taken kindly, and may further widen the chasm between the two of you. Follow your organization’s policy. The only exceptions will likely be if the other party is involved in any unethical or illegal activity.

Build your case.

A single incident may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but unless it’s indicative of a larger pattern, these one-off frustrations are better swept aside. However, if repeat incidents are harming your ability to enjoy your work or work effectively, it’s important to nip these situations in the bud before they get out of hand.

If you’re considering letting your boss know about his or her difficult behavior, try to compile evidence that supports your position. Many people will naturally attempt to deflect criticisms, especially if it’s seemingly out of nowhere. However, if you’ve taken the time to thoroughly explain your position and provide examples of how your boss’s behaviors have hurt your work, you’re far more likely to reach an agreeable result.

Don’t be intimidated.

Even if you take the time to frame your criticisms as professionally and diplomatically as possible, it may not be well-received. Your boss may get defensive or even upset by your feedback. When you are met with resistance after providing honest feedback, it’s important to hold your ground. If your boss asked for feedback, let him or her know you were only doing what was asked of you. Regardless of whether or not your boss asked for criticism, let him or her know how you came to your conclusions.

Knowing how to frame your arguments is important, but so is recognizing when you’re better off keeping your mouth shut. Some people cannot handle criticism, and these individuals can be unpredictable in their reactions to negative feedback. If your boss or another colleague is such a person, it may be better to keep your feedback to yourself unless it has a measurable effect on the organization. If your criticisms injure a fragile ego or volatile personality, that person is more likely to seize an opportunity to make life difficult for you in the future. It may be best to just hold off with any criticism and let them take themselves down eventually through their own behavior.

At the end of the day, your supervisor is a person too, and his or her behavior may be the result of stressors unknown to you. Diplomacy is essential to smoothing over workplace tensions, so if the time comes when you must air a grievance with a superior, make sure you think carefully about the best way to approach the situation.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

If you want to create a work environment that is united and focused on meeting challenges effectively, you need your people to speak up. Making this happen requires open and active communication up, down and across your organization. If you’re not used to communicating openly, then this approach might be a challenge to adopt. But by taking these actions, you will be well on your way to building a business filled with engaged and energized employees who aren’t afraid to speak up–not to mention, a healthier bottom line.

1. Make it safe to communicate.

Encourage your people to communicate regularly, honestly and openly. The best place to start? With yourself. Model the behavior you want your people to follow, and guess what? They will. When employees know they can talk about their mistakes or ask any question, no matter how trivial, without judgment or punishment, then troubleshooting problems and leveraging opportunities will be faster, easier and far more effective.

2. Create new approaches to communication.

Introduce new ways to communicate throughout your organization. Sponsor an employee talent show or put on your own company Olympic games or charter ad-hoc employee teams that will look for ways to cut costs or develop new product offerings. This will help break old employee habits and organizational silos, while building new bridges.

3. Encourage and reward honest and open dialogue.

Honest and open communication is an essential ingredient in maintaining a successful company that can quickly respond to fast-changing market conditions and agile competitors. Give employees an incentive to speak up. Rewards can vary from a simple thank you to more authority and responsibility to promotions or cash rewards.

4. Criticize constructively, not destructively.

Although honest critique and criticism is an essential element of any successful company, make sure this is communicated constructively instead of destructively. Be open to what your employees are telling you–listen and learn from what they are saying. This does not mean that you will adopt or implement every idea your people bring to you, but by listening rather than judging, you will encourage your employees to be looking out for improvements that can be made.

5. Build team communication.

Instead of grouping employees together by department, try organizing them by project. This helps to create a team mentality among employees while minimizing the “us-versus-them” vibe that seems to be a natural part of many departments. When a new project begins, kick things off with a team-building exercise, providing employees with positive, personal interactions and opportunities to build relationships before the project even begins. By physically intermingling departments, you create an environment that encourages open communication while uniting your people in a common goal–the success of your company.

Are your people speaking up? If not, it’s never too late to break down the walls that divide them. But remember: it begins with you. If you are open and honest, your people will follow your example.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.”

Many of us allow other people’s opinions to dictate what we believe, value, or perceive. It’s not always easy to stand up for our beliefs and opinions when others, particularly those we care about, constantly bombard us with their views.

You might be thinking, “No, not me! This never happens to me. I’m strong in voicing my beliefs.”

At one point or another, we all conform our opinions, either to avoid confrontation or judgment or because we’re losing faith in what we feel is right.

Ask yourself, “Do I often justify what I believe after engaging in conversations with others? Am I continuously second guessing myself?” If so, you may be losing yourself.

I used to be someone who always avoided conflict with others at all costs. Needless to say, I was passive by nature, and I shied away from standing up for my beliefs.

I would avoid and distance myself from any means of voicing my opinions. In turn, I became submissive and engaged in both romantic and platonic relationships with people who were more dominating in demeanor.

While I lacked the willpower to express my own ideas, I found myself in a state of annoyance and frustration from allowing others to indirectly control my life. Feeling helpless and unaware of who I really was took a toll on my mental well-being.

I longed for the ability to express my thoughts and opinions freely. I craved the feeling of acceptance by others, without judgments being passed.

I deeply admired and looked up to my sister as a role model, one who possessed the internal strength to be truthful to herself and others, regardless of the consequences.

Sometimes my sister would discuss her issues with her friends and seek my advice, perhaps to validate if she was doing the right thing. Sometimes she wasn’t sure if she was coming on too strong and pushing others away because of her honest and strong-minded nature.

She’d often find herself in situations where she would lose friends. Perhaps her honest opinions were too much to handle.

When she would come to me in full-blown tears, asking me, “Why do my friends keep leaving? Why don’t they understand that I am just trying to help them?” I would respond to her by saying, “They don’t want to hear the truth from you, because sometimes the truth hurts.”

Friends who resent one’s openness and honesty are usually, in turn, not worthy of the friendship.

Looking back at the way I used to be led me to a conclusion. It’s not what you say to others; it’s the manner in which you say it that truly matters.

I finally realized that, although my sister and I had opposing approaches of maintaining our relationships, neither of us was necessarily wrong in the way we went about constructing them.

We often want to give genuine advice or opinions. However, we also need to understand that it’s not always easy to accept the truth. We need to find the balance and set limitations in order to maintain positive relationships.

While I had no problem in maintaining mine, I often felt repressed in terms of being expressive. In contrast, my sister’s strong-minded character eventually caused her relationships to slowly dissipate.

Over the years, I have learned that using appropriate language, word choices, and tone is the key to flourishing relationships.

Speaking constructively and delivering tactful criticism eliminates the chance to pass biases. This also creates a healthy environment and opportunity to grow.

As I’ve matured, I’ve recognized that my opinions actually matter and have the right to be heard. Having said this, I have learned that it is more effective to give an opinion or advice when it is sought.

When I engage in conversations, I always try my best to think before I speak. Then, I contemplate, “Is it worth saying? How will what I say make a difference to this person?”

If I proceed to give my opinion, I then decide, “How can I say this in such as way that it comes across as genuine, yet constructive?”

By nature, we all have the tendency to overreact; it’s important to choose our battles wisely and release the negative energy that surrounds us.

Be real; tell the truth using kind and heartfelt words. Respect will follow.

Even though telling the truth may be difficult for many people, it’s the approach that we take that allows us to earn the respect of others.

Often enough, people are so preoccupied with verbally offending others that we end up feeling as though we need to “walk on egg shells.” We may also end up saying something we didn’t originally intend.

When I was one of those people who worried about what others thought, I allowed my life to be dictated and controlled by someone else’s agenda.

I always felt obligated to adopt the views of my partners and friends, in fear of disappointing and upsetting them. I struggled to find the courage and willpower to rid myself of this imprisonment, in search of a voice, love, and passion.

Through some of my ongoing romantic relationships with over-bearing, possessive men, I have come to terms with the fact that telling the truth will not always yield a positive or expected outcome.

Still, I think that it is most important to be true to yourself. You need to be happy first before you can make others happy, and that means not self-sacrificing for unappreciative, non-reciprocating individuals.

Speaking up for what we believe and sharing our opinions can be helpful and beneficial—when it’s appropriate, kind, constructive, and consistent.

How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

About Linda Carvalho

Linda Carvalho is a teacher and her deep passion extends to all the students she’s worked with. She believes a child’s growing progress is the most rewarding and self-fulfilling prophecy. She enjoys traveling the world and has a strong passion for writing. Her next goal is to finish a book she’s currently working on and contribute more blogs to Tiny Buddha.

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    3 Ways to Be Direct (Without Being Rude)

    Sure, honesty is admirable, but there’s no advantage in hurting people’s feelings.

    How to ask for honest feedback without feeling hurt

    The truth is powerful. It can also be painful.

    If you’re the type that prides yourself on always telling it like it is, you might consistently remember the first part of this reality, while sometimes forgetting the second. Sure, constructive feedback can help your team grow, your entrepreneur friend improve her business, or your supplier better serve you. But flat out criticism can also hurt people’s feelings, harm relationships, and make you, well, a jerk.

    On blog Fistful of Talent recently, HR pro Ben Olds addresses this balancing act between honesty and kindness, aiming the post especially at those with a tendency to make their straight talk a little too straight.

    “When you trigger someone else into feeling hurt, bullied, abused, disrespected, etc., chances are they are going to oppose your point-of-view out of principle, even if it’s a good idea. This makes your life tougher and your dialogues worse,” he warns.

    The post is a healthy reminder for the proudly brusque, but in it Olds also goes a step further, not just cautioning self-described straight shooters of the social and business costs of stepping over the line that separates directness from rudeness, but also offering three helpful tips to keep you on the right side of the divide.

    1. Balance advocacy and inquiry.

    “There’s real power in demonstrating genuine curiosity into the opposing point-of-view before you launch into attacking it. Likewise, there’s value in asking if you’re missing anything after you lay out your own point-of-view,” writes Olds. He’s not the only one advocating that those inclined to rush in should remind themselves of the value of a bit of extra investigation and reflection.

    Basecamp founder Jason Fried wrote a whole post confessing to being the type of hothead who always rushed in with his (honest, direct) opinion, and chronicling how he reformed himself. The key takeaway is much the same as Olds’ — just take a little time to ask a few questions and think things over before you exercise your admirable frankness.

    2 Criticize ideas, not people

    “If someone says something you disagree with, discuss the idea and fall short of discussing why the person who voiced the idea is dumb, selfish, mad, or evil. Sounds obvious, but I’m shocked at how often people don’t realize their argument has shifted from the idea to the person!” writes Olds. It’s a healthy reminder (and one that could save many a political conversation from devolving into an unproductive shouting match).

    3 Don’t lead with authority

    Sure, you might be more experienced. You might be more qualified. Heck, you might even be plain, old right. But that’s not why people should (or will) listen to what you say. “Instead, build relationships with your co-workers, learn their motivations, and speak to those motivations when you’re trying to influence them. Care about their buy-in and not just their agreement to execute your orders. And for god’s sake consider their points-of-view with an open mind!” Olds stresses.

    Where’s the line for you — what separates healthy honesty from unhelpful brusqueness?