Giving anything less than positive feedback to anyone at all can be intimidating. Giving feedback to a boss is another story entirely; naturally it feels risky. Nobody wants to jeopardise their position or damage working relationships – if they can help it.

However, there are times when it becomes necessary to give feedback to your boss. Perhaps your boss has requested it, in which case there’s no getting out of it. It might be that your situation has become so uncomfortable that you’ll want to leave unless change happens.

Regardless of the reason for your constructive feedback, how you deliver that feedback is everything. The below feedback methods will bring about the best possible outcome:

Consider the reasons for the feedback

Are you feeding back for your own reasons, or has your boss asked for this feedback? Dependent on the circumstances, the conversation may happen quite differently. If your boss has asked for feedback, there is probably a specific reason for that. Perhaps your boss wants to know how all employees feel about their management of a certain project.

In this case, it’s not a good time to impart all of your concerns about their timekeeping or moods. If those things are a real issue for you, a separate meeting at a later date may be required. Find out the reasons for the feedback request and ask for specific areas to feedback on. Then address those areas carefully using the methods coming up below.

If the feedback is something you’re giving for personal reasons, remember that your boss isn’t going to be expecting this. Unless they have the skin of a rhino, the chances are your feedback could put them on the back foot. The main difference is that when your boss asks for feedback, they’re expecting something specific; they may also be better prepared to receive your opinions.

Consider the validity of what you’re saying

This requires self-honesty. Do you have a genuinely good reason for giving your boss this feedback? If you dig deep and find that truthfully, it’s a personality clash and you just have quite different ways of approaching situations, it might not be worth saying anything.

Your feedback may come across as a character assassination, which won’t do wonders for your working relationship, whatever state it is currently in. However, if you feel that your boss is making poor decisions to the detriment of your project or company, you probably have a duty to discuss it.

It’s important to remember that your boss is in this role because of their skills, experience and qualifications. Although they may be doing things differently than you would, they got the job. It helps to keep this in mind, as it’s quite possible that they know things you don’t. If you don’t have the full picture, you may be joining the dots incorrectly.

Stick to what’s most important

If you have decided that your reasons for feedback are worthy, it’s time to decide on which things you’re going to talk about. You may have a list of ten different things that you don’t like about your boss’ behaviour or approach. Know that bringing too many issues to the table at once is a bad idea.

Landing a large number of issues on somebody in one hit is probably going to wind them. You may find that they stop listening after the first three points, rejecting the most important points because they feel you’ve come at them with a laundry list of errors they’ve made.

Boil your issues down to the most crucial points. What is causing the most discomfort or disharmony for you or your team? Which things have had the most negative impact on your role or project? Avoid anything that may come across as ‘niggly’ or petty. Prioritising carefully is crucial to the success of your conversation.

Prepare for your meeting

Once you’ve decided on the most crucial points you want to discuss, write them down in a bulleted list of points you want to make. Improvising is a bad idea; your emotions might start to drive the conversation, or you might forget crucial points if your boss distracts you with their responses.

It’s easy to feel that you know exactly what you want to say, but when challenged or faced with an emotional response, you may be caught off guard. Make sure your notes only include what you decided was most important and don’t deviate from that.

At the top of your notes, prepare a little positive feedback to start with. Nobody enjoys being criticized, so it always helps to let your boss know what you appreciate about them before you go into the issues. This way they will be more receptive to what they can do better.

Stick to the facts

It’s imperative to offer observations, facts, and examples. Dumping your feelings and opinions on someone without rational explanation behind them won’t garner much understanding – it will feel like a rant.

Let’s imagine your boss somehow undermined you with a client you were making good progress with. Your client was about to sign a deal, and pulled out after your boss’ input. Prepare the evidence that your client was ready to sign, and any communications that demonstrate the reasons for their change of heart.

You may be upset about this, with reason, but telling your boss that they “always undermine you”, “never consider your efforts”, etc. is not going to get you far. Inquiring rather than accusing makes a world of difference. You may genuinely feel upset, but your boss needs to see what it is they’ve actually done to cause it.

Be positive, respectful and compassionate

Let your boss know that you appreciate the opportunity to discuss your thoughts.  When you deliver your perspective in a considerate way, your boss won’t feel defensive. If you come across as caring for not only your own role and wellbeing, but also that of your boss and the company as a whole, they’ll be more receptive.

When you deliver one of your points and back it up with evidence, give them a chance to respond. Listen to what they have to say and show understanding for their perspective. Remember that your boss is your boss for a reason, and it won’t help to undermine their authority.

Keep in mind that your boss wasn’t going out of their way to upset you – they were probably unaware of the effect they were having. It could be that your boss was having personal issues that impacted their performance or decision-making.

Lastly, allow for some processing time. Your boss may come back to you later with deeper understanding. People need time to process criticism; it’s often hard to take and needs some consideration before they can see it from your point of view. Be open to (and encourage) reciprocation, as there may be some constructive feedback you could benefit from too.


Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler.com.au — a scheduling and payroll software platform founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.


The biggest disease in the 21st century is not diabetes or cancer – but rather, your self-loathing. Jack Kornfield once reported that the Dalai Lama did not understand the idea that one could dislike oneself. Cultivating inner peace is supported by self-compassion. Buddhists talk a lot about the importance of compassion and you must care about yourself before you can really care about other people. That advice probably sounds familiar from all the airplane safety announcements!

Self-compassion involves becoming aware of the presence of suffering in our bodies, emotions, thoughts, and actions, and then taking steps to diminish the suffering. Kristin Neff, a psychologist, was the pioneer in defining self-compassion as kindness toward self in good times and bad; being gentle, supportive and understanding even when we make mistakes. When you embrace self-compassion, you understand that your self-worth is unconditional. People who are self-compassionate have a greater social connectedness, emotional intelligence, happiness and overall emotional well-being. Nurturing self-compassion allows people to flourish and appreciate the richness of life, even in the hard times. When we consciously choose to soothe the mind with self-compassion, we can orient ourselves towards joyful moments.

Even though research supports the claim that showing self-compassion promotes greater health and wellbeing, for many, self-compassion carries a whiff of many bad labels. Selfish, self-centered, self-serving – and let’s not leave out self-pity. Our culture promotes blame and shame as though it wins us awards. There are many misgivings about the idea of self-compassion, as many do not know what it looks like, let alone how to practice it.

Self-compassion holds wisdom that many do not see. There is a commonality across humanity that every individual is flawed and imperfect. Brene Brown reminds us in The Gifts of Imperfection that every person experiences misfortune, though that’s something we often forget.We take on the burden of feeling things “shouldn’t be happening”, which stirs feelings of shame and isolation and drives us to bury ourselves further in our own suffering.

So, what is the answer? Stop judging, being critical, labelling yourself as entirely good or bad. Remove the blame-filled self-evaluation altogether. Open your heart and treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would show another human being.

Neuroscience suggests that self-criticism shifts the brain into a state of self-punishment that causes us to disengage and stops us from acting. It leaves us in a cycle of procrastination, rumination and self-loathing. When we tap into our self-compassion we break the patterns of self-criticism, acknowledging our fears and allowing our compassionate voice to rise to the occasion as a wise and supportive mentor.

Dr Kristin Neff describes three core qualities of self-compassion – self kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. Collectively, these elements help reduce our levels of stress and self-doubt by allowing ourselves to see doubts for what they are: Stories created about things we fear, and not the truth about who we are or what we are capable of.

Our culture is currently experiencing an epidemic of self-criticism. To survive in this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, chaotic, ambiguous) world, most people have become adept at self-criticism. We tell ourselves off for our failures, for not working hard or smart enough. And if that’s not enough, we pound ourselves day in day out to the point where people lose the will to get out of bed.

The antidote is self-compassion. If you tend to dwell on mistakes and subscribe to the mantra of ‘never good enough’, you could benefit from practicing a little more self-compassion. Let me show you six simple ways to tune into your self-compassion.

Self-compassion can also be trendy

Pulling up your socks and maintaining a facade of “toughness” is ingrained in our culture.  Harsh self-criticism is common – do you call yourself names? Replay mistakes in your head like a record player? Beat yourself up for mistakes and punish yourself for failures?

Rather than hosting a pity party, self-compassion creates a space to view through a lens of gentler words, that failure is a universal experience and that suffering is a choice. When we step into self-compassion, it increases your motivation to recover from failure, enhances your self-worth, and increases your resilience against adversity.

Picture your best self

Imagine your life five years from now. Write a letter capturing where you will be in 5 years as if you’re already there, describing your life in detail. Where you are living? What are you doing? Who is in your life? What is the taste of the food that you are eating, or the view from your house? Who are you sharing the experience with? Identify small actions that you can take to bring you closer to this vision. When you bring awareness and intention to who you want to be, you can shift your focus on cultivating your “beingness” from a place of kindness and self-care.

Deepen your connection to yourself

Sometimes in life, we need to press pause. Notice your emotions and how your body feels.  Your body is a messenger bearing a lot of important information, and you should practice listening to it. Get in tune and become aware of sensations without labelling your emotions as good or bad. Speak to yourself like a trusted friend. When you are trying to recover from setbacks, saying kinder things will make you feel better and help you perform better.

When you are in the moment, be aware without judgement. Allow your feelings their moment in the spotlight. Don’t give them a microphone or hide them in the corner. Be loyal to each feeling, allow it to rise, and then without attachment, let it go.

The beauty of self-compassion is that anyone can learn to do it. There is an exercise that can be used in everyday life when you need self-compassion the most, called the Self-Compassion Break.

Notice victories, no matter the size

There is a lot of strength in appreciating what we have right now. Gratitude helps you move from noticing the gaps, toward celebrating both big and small wins. When we notice the victories despite the size or magnitude, an internal message is reinforced that the journey is more important than the destination. Try writing a gratitude journal, focusing on blessings and the beauty within the world. The results may surprise you.

Re-connect with your truth

We live in a world where ‘should do’ or ‘have to do’, where some things simply need to be done. Making a list of priorities is a way to stay focused when everything on the list is out of alignment with your values. Review the list, identify your priorities, ask for help with tasks, change your perspective towards the task, or simply let it go.

Accept that you are not perfect and when you are confronted with your shortcomings, remind yourself that you are valued by your friends for who you are, not because you are faultless. You do not need to be a certain way to be worthy of love.

Tapping into the inner child

Nourishing your heart and mind by reconnecting to child-like qualities inspires creativity and makes us more productive. Find a new café for an afternoon treat, take a pole dancing class, or invest in charcoal drawing. Engage in an activity that warms your heart and brings out your sense of curiosity and wonder.


It’s time to remind yourself that you are human. So, when you do not meet your standards, take a moment, be grateful for the opportunity, commit to your persistence, pick yourself up and go again. Celebrate that you are not perfect. You are imperfectly flawed and that is fabulous.

(Editor’s note: Our Make Your Mark Journal and ‘Phenomenal Woman’ Planner guide you through many similar exercises, to help you become the phenomenal woman and leader you truly are!)

 

Angela Kambouris is a highly-valued leadership coach and business leader having spent over 20 years in the field of vulnerability and trauma. She is super-passionate about unlocking human potential to deliver extraordinary results and has spoken on stages and worked with thousands of people in the areas of self-development, leadership, mindset, human behavior and business.  She has master-minded with leaders and expert authorities in personal development and business all over the world.


Naysayers are inevitable.

When are you going to get a real job?

How are you going to make money doing that?

Are you completely mad?!

Hearing these kinds of comments when we already feel challenged can be particularly confronting and force us to question: Exactly what am I doing?!

Things that others say are all too easy to believe when they resonate with what we secretly think might be true.

I mean, how exactly am I going to make a living doing this?!

But don’t despair.

There are a couple of reasons why the naysayers in our life are an important driving force:

1. They give us an opportunity to re-affirm and re-commit to our purpose. Regularly.

It’s all too easy to fall into habit and routine, even when we’ve found our thing.

The drudgery of starting up (admin, operations, endless email) can plunge us into default mode where we’re just chasing our tail. These questions prompt fresh thought about what we’re doing and how to create the business part.

It might even empower us to jump out of business maintenance mode and into business development mode. (That’s the mode where momentum and expansion occur). 

Next time someone questions the sustainability and profitability of your idea, use it as an opportunity to focus on the sustainability and profitability of your idea. Sit down and study/ meditate – it might stimulate some fresh thinking around an existing challenge.

2. They give us an opportunity to re-assess our community, decide who we want in it, and how we communicate with them.

A supportive and open-minded community is essential when starting something new. We all need people in our lives who are relatable, and if everyone in our community is still in the same job they’ve had for the last 5 years and think we’re insane for giving up the accoutrements of salaried life while we launch our idea, it’s going to be pretty tough going.

Friends and family love us. But if they are not 110% supportive of our choices and direction, they might not be the best people to share our experience with. Tell them the good stuff so they can focus on the progress you’re making, and save the challenges and request for advice/ feedback with a like-minded community of peers.

To start with, create a list of the 10 people you spend the most time with and tick them if they are 110% supportive of your choices and direction. If not, you can either spend less time with them {at least for the time being}, share only the good stuff or lovingly communicate your greatest WHY and ask for their support in lieu of a gagging order.

You can also spend more time with people who inspire you through their books, podcasts, blogs, webinars and live events. My go-to is an hour with John Demartini on my iPod. It never fails to lift me back up to where I should be.

You might also consider a coach or mentor who can keep you on track and accountable to the goals you set. These are the people who can help you turn your challenges into opportunities (not a reason to give up and go back to what you were doing before).

There are also a couple of reasons why they naysayers in your life can be a creative force:

3. It’s an encouraging prompt to throw ourself into the things that we love that fill us with a vision of the future.

When we do what we love we are happier, healthier, and free-er. And in this state we are more easily able to live in our vision of the future.

Anything to do with personal and professional development are life affirming and invigorating. I always have a professional course on the go (business or marketing stuff), as well as some more esoteric/ holistic stuff and some books that stimulate new ideas. Immersing yourself in study and progress in your passions will advance you in the direction you want to go and quiet the lizard brain that defaults to fear and sabotage.

When the naysayers chime in I fire up the laptop, watch the latest videos in the module I’m up to and very soon again feel passionate and excited about what I’m doing. Because it fills me up with a vision of the future.

This kind stuff gets us back on our path.

4. It’s also a chance to fully immerse ourself in our art; that thing we do.

That thing that you want to share with the world right now? Spend time immersed in the thinking, action or behaviours required to master it, evolve it, take it to the next level. It’s the core of a sustainable, profitable and impactful business.

Whether a product or service, the offer we create around your art is more game-changing and more revolutionary the more time we’ve spent honing, sculpting, and shaping it.

So get stuck in and spend time with that.

Naysayers are a blessing. The curse comes only if we let them side track us.

Featured Photo Credit: Vermin Inc via Compfight cc

Stephanie Holland - Leaders in Heels Guest writerStephanie Holland is a business strategist at StepanieHolland.co, delivering pre-business strategy for more ease, more vision and more likelihood of success. She’s on a mission to empower aspiring entrepreneurs with perspective shifts and strategic frameworks that slice through the bullshit, smash upper limits, and minimise guesswork. Grab a free copy of Plan F to get started generating ideas, impact and profit on your own terms.