Why that 'helpful' feedback you've been getting at work hasn't been helpful at all.

You’re in a conversation with your manager, who tells you that a couple of your colleagues think that you are not assertive enough and shrink from taking responsibility. It’s okay though, she’s “just being honest”.

One of your peers tell you that people find you vague and directionless. She’s just “saying it as it is”.

You’re having a discussion with someone on your project team who lets you know that you are coming across as rude and abrasive. Then she rushes off to the next meeting. It’s okay though, she’s “just telling it straight”.

Always feel like you are going crazy at work? You might be being gaslighted. Post continues.

Too often we use, “I’m just being honest” as an excuse to verbally assassinate someone. Those four words seem to give some people permission to say whatever they think. However, there are consequences to a colleague’s “helpful” comments.

Not only has the trust and respect bank been depleted but so has the ‘discretionary effort’ bank too. Whether we are friends or work colleagues, we don’t want to go the extra distance for these people anymore. They have hurt us.

When we speak, our words can harm our colleagues and we create an emotional wake, whether we like it or not.

So how do you give feedback without hurting someone?

Whether it is delivering feedback, sharing your perspective on a decision or giving an opinion on a project; when we share what we think, we need to keep in mind that it is our perspective only. It is true for us – but not the truth.

Facts are information that cannot be argued or disputed. They are dates, times, numbers, what people said (as in the actual words, not our perspective of what they said) and what people did or did not do (body language).


For instance, if you “feel wronged”, I could tell you that “you didn’t need to feel that way”. I can challenge this. If you tell me that when I asked everyone in the meeting last Tuesday for their opinion, I didn’t ask for yours – and it was true – then I cannot argue that. The facts are indisputable.

Just because we have an opinion about something doesn’t make it a fact. Even if we strongly believe it. It is our own perspective of a situation. And the things about perspectives or opinions is that they can change over time. The facts don’t. They might be true for you, but they are not the truth.

I’m not saying don’t share how you feel about something or your perspective. But if you do it without adding examples and facts then it is coming across as criticism and is unlikely to be received and owned. The content needs to be delivered with facts – not just your opinions or feelings in isolation, as these are often the damaging pieces.

At the same time, there’s a way that you can handle rejection without making things worse. Post continues.

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Facts reduce the conflict. They reduce the dispute. Well for most they do. There is always a small percentage that will deny the truth. In my experience, most people are delivering opinions, not facts. And this this is why they disagree.

Margaret Heffernan, an expert in conflict and author of many books, including Women On Top, tells us that conflict is inevitable. It’s the clashing of opinions and thinking that creates new ideas and solutions. That if we all agreed that we would become “echo chambers” and innovation and creativity would slowly die. Relationships would not reach the next level. So conflict is inevitable to move things forward. It’s combat that’s optional.

Most people know what’s it’s like to be on the receiving end of someone wanting to win a conversation. It’s no longer a healthy tennis rally of conversation between people. It’s become a ‘slam, bam, thank you ma’am’ short, aggressive rally. Either one or both parties trying to serve ace after ace. Not helpful. And typically with very few facts.

So next time you need to make a point. Stop. Slow. Think. Do I have enough facts, that cannot be disputed, to help the other understand where I am coming from?

Otherwise, you are not respecting them, and you’re not helping yourself.

Georgia Murch is the expert in creating feedback cultures. She is the best-selling author of Fixing Feedback and has just launched her new book, Feedback Flow; The Ultimate Illustrated Guide to Embed Change in 90 Days. For more information on how Georgia’s services, visit