Anxious About Giving Feedback?

Try this 3-step process to ensure an emotionally intelligent conversation


Anxious About Giving Feedback?

Try This 3-Step Process to Go From “I” to “We”


This article has been adapted from the EQ Gym, a 6-week training program to develop and practice emotional intelligence. Want to find an EQ Gym series near you? Fill out the form at the bottom of the page and we will contact you when a Network Leader near you is hosting.

3 steps to give feedback with emotional intelligence

Giving feedback is many leader’s least favorite part of their job. It’s hard and uncomfortable, and causes anxiety for both parties. To give feedback effectively, leaders must pay attention to what we call the first rule of emotional intelligence: If people feel attacked, they defend. The key to giving effective feedback is to shift the dynamics so that you are standing side-by-side, trying to solve the problem together – to go from “I” to “We”. Here’s a 3 step process to do it, adopted from Six Seconds’ training for managers:

1.  Make an “I statement” to identify your feelings.

Starting with “You this,” or “You that,” will automatically trigger defensiveness. Examples of “I statements” include: “I feel dissatisfied with the way this is going,” or “I feel frustrated about our relationship.”

2. Acknowledge this is a shared experience.

Invite the other person to join in your assessment: “How are you feeling about this?”

3. Discuss how to improve the situation together.

Effective statements include: “How can we improve this?” or “What can we do to make this better?”

EQ In Action

Next time you are about to give feedback, consider: How can I set the emotional context to emphasize that we are working toward a shared goal, together?

Prepare your “I statement” beforehand, and ask for their input with a genuine curiosity. After practicing this “I” to “We” method and seeing that it works, many leaders feel much less anxiety about the entire process of giving feedback.

Interested in the EQ Gym?

Fill out this form and we will contact you when an EQ gym is starting near you!

Michael Miller

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