Do this to reduce anxiety when giving feedback

During a recent coaching certification, I had an extraordinary experience practicing methods of giving feedback. Instead of creating thoughts of “you’re not good enough”, we did something different, something magical. We created a space that felt like an adventure. It was like a leadership taste-test. We reviewed the 360 feedback as though we were tasting different desserts. As we went through each bite of feedback, we ‘tasted’ each piece by digesting the words and deciding what it meant to our growth goals and our vision for an inspiring future…and that felt like freedom. Ideas for growth lived where there would normally be feelings of guilt and shame…

It made me think: ‘this would be an amazing environment to create for giving feedback!’

…It was much more of a learning conversation, which is so different from the usual fear-inducing atmosphere that can be created in performance feedback. Remember, giving feedback to the human brain is like saying: “let me tell you what is wrong with you.” And we naturally want to defend against the feedback (fight) or avoid hearing it all together (flee) or are paralyzed by it (freeze) – none of which allows us to be open to listen, understand and determine our experiences for growth.

I realize that feedback conversations often feed information, by looking back in the past to highlight mistakes or wrong-doings and can stir up feelings of guilt, fear, doubt and worry, implying that you have to find what is wrong with you before you can get better. 

There are benefits to looking at the past with the intention of creating a more positive present, and future. The challenge is we (you the giver of feedback and the receiver of your feedback) can get trapped in the past, creating an unhealthy, fear-causing dynamic as the receiver perceives themselves as victims.

So if this is the way you’ve experienced receiving and giving feedback throughout your life and career, how can you do it differently?


Have a learning conversation.

A learning conversation does not assume that anything is wrong with the other person. What it does imply is that there are gifts and skills they can learn to make their life more easeful, productive and satisfying. In a learning conversation, you help people:

  1. take full, healthy responsibility for their (work) life
  2. make commitments and goals tied to their future
  3. practice these commitments and goals


Turn performance feedback into a learning conversation.

In a learning conversation you:

  • Withhold judgement that anything is wrong with the other person
  • Recognize that there are values you both have that are not being met
  • Acknowledge there are skills you, as a leader, can learn and share to feel more  comfortable, productive and satisfied

Print this worksheet to begin hosting learning conversations that make life more wonderful!


If you’re a leader wanting to align with your values, transform your culture, reach new levels of comfort and confidence and truly make a difference, then our Conscious Leadership Experience is for you.

Please contact us to discuss how we can help you expand your leadership capacity in a healthy, inspiring way.

*20 Minute call with Dale
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