Are there times when you feel you are you on a track that is going to end in a conflict?

You’d like to tell your colleague that something they do is negatively impacting your relationship, but you keep putting it off because it’s not a big deal and you don’t want to upset them?

You’ve tried to get across you would like someone to do something different, but they keep doing it over and over again?

Here, red10‘s Gavin Simpson shares 3 feedback tools, for low to high risk situations, to increase your likelihood of getting a good outcome for everyone.

First a few tips that apply to all these models:

  • Practise, practise, practise – Difficult conversations are difficult, by their very nature and, as with anything else which is difficult, it is important to prepare.
  • Get to the point – it is all too common for people to dance around the delicate issues.
  • Check your motive – if you are trying to score points or get one up on the other person you are not the right one for the job. Building better relationships is the key motive here.


Request Model – when risk is low, or time is short, and it doesn’t need to land

Imagine going into a meeting with a colleague and every time you never seemed to be able to discuss what was important to you. This happened to me, and over time I became increasingly frustrated. I wish I had known about this model for giving feedback then.

It is so subtle I find it doesn’t feel like you are actually “giving feedback” or, having been the recipient of this, feel like you’ve just “received feedback”. To me it feels like a collaborative behaviour for working successfully in organisations and it’s a great go to when it is not a big deal.

Phrase it as a REQUEST

“Can I make a request? I’d like it if we could spend the first 5 minutes of the meeting agreeing the agenda of what you and I want to cover”


“Could we…?” or “How about next time we…?” or “What do you think to next time doing…?”

There’s something about phrasing feedback as a polite request that makes the other person more open to it, and less likely to take offence. It’s also quick.


“DESS” Model – Assertive, when you need to be firm.

When you need to be heard and land your message then this is a great model. Maybe if my request had not worked, I could have then moved to this.

Steps Example

Describe the behaviour

‘When you… (focus the meeting on your agenda)’

Express your response

‘I feel or think… (frustrated that you are not helping me with what is important to me)’

Specify what you want

‘I would like… (us to agree an agenda together at the start of our meeting)

State why (consequence)

‘So that… (we can meet both our needs and for me it’s often your input that helps me to learn)


“I’M SQIFFE” – when risk is high and you can invest the time, then this model increases the chances of a good outcome for everyone.

Will describes this beautifully in Landing feedback well.