How To Give Negative Feedback Without Hard Feelings

by Dec 3, 201614 comments

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Have you ever had a time when you wanted to give a friend or a co-worker some negative feedback, but you are apprehensive? You don’t know how they are going to interpret it?

If you are in human resources, you may know exactly what I mean.

You toss and turn at night wondering if you should offer your feedback.

Has this ever happened to you?

Well, it doesn’t have to be that tough a decision. There’s a way to do so without friction or hard feelings.

If you sincerely care about people, you should face your fear and give them negative feedback with a compassionate heart.

Let me share with you why.

We are experiencing some unprecedented changes. This world is radically different.

We cannot afford to remain the same and expect to survive and thrive. It’s going to require a new you to overcome today’s challenges.

We must reinvent ourselves. The question is, how to do you do so? What would it take? The answer is simple:

Honest feedback!

Yes, to be a better leader or manager in the new era, you need constant feedback. That’s how we improve.

You must realize that no matter how great you are, there’s room for improvement. Feedback is the mother of innovation and reinvention.

Yes, I know some people are arrogant. They think they know everything. That’s sad.

Arrogance is the brutal enemy of personal and professional growth and progress.

Those who think they have all the answers are fools.

Mastery is impossible without constant feedback.

Let me share with a simple formula to share negative feedback.

The Secret To Sharing Negative Feedback Without Offending Others

The formula is PSP. P is for Praise. S is for Share. And P is for Praise again. Now, let me break it down for you.

1- P: is for Praise

People can be very sensitive. The reality is, we all have an ego. We can get easily get hurt.

You must praise and elevate before you anything negative. Think of it like driving on the road and you are coming up to a big pothole.

You have to prepare yourself by slowing down and proceeding with caution.

The negative feedback is the pothole. The praise is your way of proceeding with caution.

You simply say something like, “Susie, you’ve been a fantastic member of our teams. I love your positive energy. Last month we were late and almost missed our deadline. But, you rescued us.”

Notice the specificity here.

There’s Magic In Specificity

It’s not enough to say, “You are great.” Tell the person specifically what makes him or her great. The more specific you are, the more impactful it will be.

You are boosting the person self-esteem before you give the negative feedback.

2- S: is for Share

Now you are ready to deliver the negative feedback. You say, “There’s an issue we need to work on.” Do you see how I use the word we?

Now, you are ready to share the issue. But there is just one small catch.

Always Disassociate The Person From The Negative Behavior

The person is never the behavior. I’m sure we all have issues. But bad habits don’t make us bad people.

Unfortunately, most times our relationships are with the bad behavior instead of the person.

As an example, let’s say a person is a liar. We tend to develop a relationship with the lyar. We listen to the liar. So, we know a person for twenty or forty years. But, never actually never meet the person.

All right, how do you disassociate the person from the negative behavior? How do you let the individual know his or her poor performance is not who they are?

Gesture away when you share the negative feedback. When you do so, you automatically send a signal to the person. You are saying the person is not the behavior.

Although, I strongly suggest you emphasize it. Gesture away. Then you say, “This is not like you.”

3- P: is for Praise

Okay, now that you share what’s on your mind, it’s time to elevate again. Here’s my best advice to you.

Never Walk Away From Any Conversation Without Leaving The Person On A High Note.

Here’s something to keep in mind: When you praise, you elevate.

When you share the negative feedback, you tend to bring the person down. That’s why you end on a high note.

The high note is much better if you future pace the person. Let me explain.

Feedback is the past. To move forward, we have to focus on the future.

You ask a future based question by saying, “By the way, what is your vision? Where do you see yourself in this company? Is there a position you would like to occupy in the future?”

Once you hear the reply, say, “Excellent! I can see you as the regional manager. I’m ready to help you. Let me know if can share any resources or information with you.”

Can you imagine how great that feels? That’s your way of communicating you sincerely care.


Use this PSP formula in your workplace and personal live. The impact is the same.

Maybe it’s your best friend who has been behaving weird lately. It may be your kids or significant other.

With this approach, you never have to feel awkward again. In fact, your friends, family members or co-worker will think the world of you.

Simply put, I’m arming you with a powerful psychological weapon. Except that in this case, you use this weapon to build instead of destroying.


  1. Bill

    Thanks, Rene, it is really practical and effective. in fact, i often make comments on my students. i really need to apply this in my work.

    • Rene Godefroy

      Thanks Bill for letting me. I appreciate your comment.

  2. Bill

    Dear Rene, actually, i often comment on my students, and i really need this great idea and the related skill. i find that they are really practical and effective. really thanks. i will apply them more effectively in my work. thanks again.

  3. Anneke

    Great post! I never thought about the last step. It’s a great addition! Thanks for the post!

    • Rene Godefroy

      You are welcome Anneke.

  4. Vusie

    Thank you so much Rene for the insight of wisdom, as we lack the capacity to face the circumstances we face in everyday life. For that lack of wisdom, we become shy or afraid to speak of what is true.

  5. Marc Bourget

    Very powerful message and well presented my friend, good work and well delivered..

    • Rene Godefroy

      Wow! Thanks a lot Marc. I appreciate your comment.

  6. Folu Fasidi

    This is amazing & highly educative
    Thank you so very much for sharing this technique

    • Rene Godefroy

      It’s my pleasure Folu!

  7. Lalitha

    Hi,Mr Rene Godefroy.
    Its always a pleasure listening to you.I need to help myself and make it a Habit to what you have thought.After many years in the glamour and fashion industry, all came to an end when I became physical impaired just 3 months ago. I stopped writing my book because depression sunk in.I became a bitter person.Not only my family became my
    enemy,I was my own Greater enemy.My passion was to become the best motivational speaker, deep down I believe I am destined for greater purpose.However my conditions has killed my self esteem.I am trying to motivate myself each day .Who can I motivate? when I had failed!I am not complaining but just sharing.I have a vision, I have a mission.But I just hate what I have become, A bitter Person.I wish,I can see you.

    • Rene Godefroy

      It’s my pleasure Lalitha!

  8. ana micaela babao

    It is true YES! I realized it myself toward the person I love. sometimes I just forget.

    • Rene Godefroy

      Thanks for sharing Ana!


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