How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected
By Joshua Uebergang

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How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

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How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

Introduction What is Constructive Feedback Why Constructive Feedback Works Principles of Feedback 1) Choose Correct Timing 2) Ask for Self Assessment 3) Focus on Specifics 4) Limit Feedback to a Few Important Points 5) Provide More Praise than Corrective Advice Useful Techniques • Open-ended Questioning • Reflecting Back • Maintaining Silence • Summarizing • Being Sensitive • Initiating Action and Offering Ideas • Gaining Ownership Receiving Feedback The Feedback Emotional Rollercoaster • D.A.W.A Communication Must Continually Be Learned 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 9 9 10 10 10 11 11


How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected
Providing advice to people is always tough, but if it’s done right, you not only get the message across, but you build a tighter and stronger relationship with the person. You may think that feedback is limited to people in positions of power such as managers and parents but everyone often needs to give those difficult messages. This can involve telling your best friend that you do not like their swearing while still being best friends, it can be telling a family member to do their chores around the house without fights starting, or telling someone about an annoying habit that is really getting at you. These are just a few of the many examples where you need to give advice/feedback. The major problem is without the communication skills, if you give advice you’ll stuff it up! “There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as advice.” - Joseph Addison By the end of this report, your fear in telling others what to do should greatly reduce. Also, when you do provide advice, you won’t make the same mistakes as you have. As a rule in communication, you are taught not to give advice. I am completely for this rule because when the average person gives advice, they do not have the skills to successfully do so. They give advice with 100% intent on helping the person, but the receiving person sees the message as a form of control. The person either thinks that you are trying to do things your way or that you think he’s not capable of running his own life. He loses a sense of ownership and control in his life leading to destructive behaviors such as frequent arguing, complaining, and passiveaggressive communication (quite actions that are destructive as a way of releasing frustration). Constructive feedback/advice is one of the only ways for the person to positively accept what you say. You have to give constructive feedback. That means you have a responsibility to help them develop.

What is Constructive Feedback?
First, I’ll tell you what it’s not.


How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

Constructive feedback is not criticism because it’s all negative and personal. Constructive feedback is a not personal (e.g. you are lazy), but a targeted response to an individual’s action or behavior (e.g. you did not accomplish the task you agreed to complete) that is intended to help them learn, and is delivered from a place of respect. You see that by saying something about the task and not person-specific, you minimize them receiving it as a personal attack. Constructive feedback does not shut the person out but rather invites the individual receiving the feedback to shed light, share their perspective, or provide their response (e.g. Do you see it differently?) Constructive feedback does not blame (e.g. it is your fault the dishes were not done straight away). Again, it is a personal attack on the person and he will either argue with you intensifying the problem, or he will become defensive and try to shift the blame elsewhere.

Why Constructive Advice Works
Constructive advice/feedback enables us to give difficult messages honestly to those we care about. However, instead of insulting, shutting-down others, or alienating those who receive the advice, and damaging their self esteem and confidence, it motivates them to ask for help and maintains their sense of control while feeling supported and respected. Constructive advice is delivered out of respect and a genuine desire to help the individual.

Principles of Feedback
1. Choose Correct Timing Praise is most effective when given as soon as possible after the behavior has occurred. Immediate feedback will help to reinforce a correct behavior and make it more likely to happen again. When an incorrect behavior is not corrected with feedback, the individual will begin to adopt the incorrect behavior more frequently. It is highly desirable to give corrective feedback before the situation occurs again. You want to help the person stop repetitive behaviors. Do not provide advice directly after the event, but at a later time when the both of you are not experiencing strong emotions. This will keep “the heat” down and enable a clearer conversation to solve the problem.


How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

2. Ask for Self Assessment Begin by asking the person for self-assessment as it involves them in the feedback process. It is more effective to allow the person to voice opinions before providing your point of view. You are listening and understanding their experience and feelings. You're building on what they do by gathering information from them and then presenting yourself based on the input. Letting them express themselves first also helps to promote an open atmosphere and dialog. Self-assessment also helps the person become better at the problem and more independent through self-correction, which in the long-run is more beneficial when a similar problem arises then you nagging and nipping at their backside. What if the person doesn't want to self-assess? Most people will be very willing to blurt out their opinion. Their willingness to self-assess also greatly depends on the problem. If the problem is very emotional and hasn't been discussed, then its likely the person would be unwilling to self-assess. You don't know if they're unwilling to provide their self-assessment until you actually ask for it. If they're unwilling, it's still part of the advice giving process because they then know you're at least trying to not control them through sergeant-like commands and orders. When asking them what they feel about the situation by self-assessing it presents the opportunity for two-way communication. 3. Focus on Specifics When you focus on a specific correct or incorrect behavior, you remove the feedback from the sphere of personality differences and the other person will be more willing and able to change. By being specific the person does not feel he is being personally attacked and knows the advice is task orientated and not person orientated. For example, when providing corrective feedback: Do: “When you did not wash the dishes last night, I came home from work tired at 11pm and did them myself.” Don’t: “I did the dishes last night because of you” - wrong because you emphasized the person is the problem and not the unwashed dishes. It is person orientated. Make it task/problem orientated as in the ‘do’ example. When providing praise: Do: “Thank you for doing the dishes last night. I was able to have a shower straight after work and go to bed.”


How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

Don’t: “Thanks for doing the dishes” - this isn’t too bad but you can see it lacks a true feeling of thankfulness. By being specific, it enhances your appreciation. An even less desirable compliment is simply saying “thanks for that”. What are you thankful? Be specific! You are encouraging good behavior. “You cannot make it as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.” - Zig Ziglar 4. Limit Feedback to a Few Important Points Good communicators identify one or two critical areas and help the person address them one at a time. It is too hard to examine and try to change many aspects of behavior in one go. Restrict your feedback to one or two important points so that you do not overwhelm the other person with too many things to consider. 5. Provide More Praise than Corrective Advice Positive reinforcement is one of the strongest factors in bringing about change. Unfortunately a lot of people always focus on the negative. When you give corrective feedback, remember to point out corrective behaviors first. This is as important as pointing out mistakes and areas that need improvement. Also, always end the conversation on a positive. This can be simple as saying “Thank you (name) for talking this over with me.” This is powerful and will leave the person with lingering thoughts of your advice and honest intention to help them.

Useful Techniques
Now that we have highlighted the main principles of giving feedback, let’s look at some useful techniques: Techniques for giving advice – Active listening
Open-ended Questioning Reflecting Back Being Sensitive Gaining Ownership Maintaining Silence Initiating action & Offering ideas



How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

Hope you love my diagram ;-) These techniques will most probably be a surprise to many. People think that giving advice is about a wham-bam-thank-you-mam voicing of their opinion. It is not! This could quite be the greatest misunderstanding in giving advice. These 7 techniques mostly involve listening to what the other person has to say and encouraging them to talk. By actively listening, the person begins to open himself and give you a far greater chance to understand. From this you will be able to provide advice at a far greater interpersonal level that otherwise could not be achieved. “One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears - by listening to them.” - Dean Rusk Open-ended Questioning Use open-ended questions to allow and encourage the person to give more detail and elaborate. For example, “You look disappointed. Is there something you would like to talk about?” The person may say “no” or may say “yes” and then talk about their bad day with the boss and possibly even thoughts and feelings you thought the person never had. Use words like: How? Tell me more? What do you think? Avoid the frequent use of closed questions when you are trying to get more information from someone. These control the conversation and are blunt. Avoid words like: Do you? Did you? Have you? You can see that these questions have “yes” and “no” answers and control how the person is to reply to your question. Also be careful when you use the word “why”. The person may think that you are blaming them or being critical if you use it. They may think that you disagree with them if you use this word. Reflecting Back This is about putting what the other person has said into your own words and reflecting it back. A type of reflecting is paraphrasing and by doing this it shows that you are listening and more importantly that you are listening and understanding! For example: Individual – “I always seem to get the rough end of the stick - no-one listens to me…”


How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

You – “You seem concerned that no-one listens to you and it hurts” Now how powerful is that? Reflecting is a billion times more effective then saying things we are all guilty of such as “you don’t get the rough end of the stick” “only your enemies don’t listen to you” or “stop worrying, it’ll be okay”. Bad! Bad! Bad! This is not listening. You are ignoring the other person’s feelings. Use this one technique in your communication and the other person will truly begin to feel you understand them. Maintaining Silence Encourage the person to take their time. Always give the other person time to think through their reply. Do not feel uncomfortable about silences but do be wary that silence can make people feel very uncomfortable. "A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words." - Phillip Brooks If you’re giving children advice, let them have more time to respond. Their minds are slower then adults and they need the extra time to put their thoughts together. Be gentle and loving. Maintain eye contact and demonstrate an interest. Summarizing Summarize what the two of you have discussed to ensure that you have heard correctly and understood from his/her perspective and to reaffirm what needs to be done. Restate the key aspects of the discussion and conclude positively and focused on the future. I repeat again, finish on a positive. You want to have a lasting impact on the person. Being Sensitive Acting sensitive to the needs of the person is important as they may reject the feedback initially. You need to take in the person’s feelings and respect what they are going through. Give the person space to think in his/her time. This may help the person to absorb the feedback. Initiating Action and Offering Ideas Example: “Can you think of something that would solve…?” You are including the person and giving them control in their solution.


How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

Offer ideas without forcing your personal opinion. “One thing you might do is…” “Have you thought about...?” “What can I do to help?” Gaining Ownership Help the person to integrate the feedback into their own experience and view of themselves. Any change in behavior will only occur through acceptance and ownership of feedback by that person. You can do this by providing encouragement and the support necessary for this to happen. You are not picking the person off the floor so to speak, but you are offering a hand to help them, help their self. Let them take control and ownership of their future actions based on what was discussed. It doesn’t have to be every man for himself. Put your egos and other harmful selfperceptions aside and think what you can do to help the other person.

Receiving Feedback
As long as feedback is given in a non-judgmental and appropriate way, it is a valuable piece of information for learning and for our continued development as a person. “We give advice by the bucket, but take it by the grain.” - William Alger Constructive advice is critical for self-development and growth. Here are some points to keep in mind when you receive feedback: 1. Don’t shy away from constructive feedback, welcome it. The successful are open to feedback but at the same time they are not discouraged from negative feedback. 2. Accept feedback of any sort for what it is – information. You have a choice of how to use it. 3. Evaluate the feedback before responding. 4. Make your own choice about what you intend to do with the information. Put whatever has happened between the two of you in the past. So much wasted energy is spent on past events that can no longer be changed. The past is exactly the past. Its history and nothing can be done about it. You need to focus on what’s ahead and be willing to work with others.

The Feedback Emotional Rollercoaster
Whether you are giving or receiving feedback it is useful to bare in mind the following model when it comes to people who receive feedback.

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How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

D.A.W.A D.A.W.A is an acronym for denial, anger, withdrawal, and acceptance. Denial When people first receive feedback, they have a tendency to deny it. Please avoid immediate defensiveness such as arguing, denying and justifying. This just gets in the way of your appreciation of the information you are being given. Anger After the denial stage comes anger! So you’ve been told that your work is not as good as what it ought to be. You’ve said, “It’s as good as always” so you are denying it then you become angry as it stews in your mind and body. The immediate reaction is to fume! Withdrawal After the anger has calmed down, the person has had time to reflect and ponder on the feedback. “Well, I have been making more mistakes then normal” This is when time is taken out to mull over the feedback and think about what it actually means. Acceptance The final part of this model is finally accepting the feedback, assessing its value and the consequences of ignoring it, or using it. “I HAVE been making mistakes” How you provide advice will affect the intensity of each level. For example, it is in our Earthling nature to deny bad behaviors, but you have learned that denial can be minimized by being specific above the problematic behavior. Do not limit the D.A.W.A model to you receiving advice. By understanding each phase, it will also help you understand the other person when giving advice.

Communication Must Continually Be Learned
When putting these skills to use, do not expect perfection. Communication is a skill like any other and so do not think the techniques do not work or that you cannot communicate well. When a professional golfer makes a swing change, he knows that the change is difficult to implement. He knows that he won’t start swinging perfectly when correcting his swing. The good golfer persists following his coach’s advice and works towards his goal of swinging the golf club better. Communication is a progressive effort that needs constant focus. When practicing these techniques, you need to ask yourself: “What worked well?” “What could have been done better?” “What have I learned for next time?” Realize communication is a skill that must be learned to have fulfilling relationships and that to successfully communicate you need to keep learning and improving these skills. A golfer doesn’t practice 70 hours one week and not practice the rest of the year!

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How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” - Jim Rohn If you want to keep learning effective communication skills to enhance your life, and if you haven’t done so, you’re invited to sign up to my free communication and self development newsletter by clicking the link or you can copy and paste the address: to sign up and join other “Earthlings” as we improve our communication skills and develop ourselves. By signing up you will receive: Free communication and self development courses and reports jammed packed with powerful information Must read articles that will amp up your communication skills and self development I'll answer the biggest problems you and other Earthlings are experiencing or would just like to know more about Lessons on real-life examples so you can learn and grow faster. You don't have to reinvent fire! Reviews of products and yes, when I come across garbage I'll let you know so you don't waste your time with what won't be a great help to you Stuff learning from boring information when you are experiencing enough problems already! and more... I hope you have gotten a lot out of this free report and don't forget to pass a copy onto someone you know simply by emailing this report you have or send them this link where they can download this ebook so they too can give difficult messages and stay liked and respected. Also, you can print out as many copies as you'd like and give them away. It's a great gift that can help others improve problems they have with talking to you or others. I wish you the best in your communication and hope to hear from you soon,

Joshua Uebergang Self Development Coach You can contact me via my website at:

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How to Give Difficult Messages and Stay Liked and Respected

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