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When you want to give feedback to someone—a direct report, a colleague, a manager, a friend, a partner—before you do, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it kind?
  3. Is it necessary?

When I went through yoga teacher training, I learned the 𝙮𝙖𝙢𝙖𝙨 and 𝙣𝙞𝙮𝙖𝙢𝙖𝙨, yoga’s ethical guidelines.

Two of these are 𝙖𝙝𝙞𝙢𝙨𝙖, non-harming, and 𝙨𝙖𝙩𝙮𝙖, truthfulness.

These must be in balance. You must balance truthfulness with non-harming.

The 3 questions are the approach we were taught to determine if our words and intention are in balance.

When advising and coaching leaders and colleagues who want to give feedback to someone, I ask you to consider those 3 questions.

If you can’t answer all 3 in the affirmative, you need to assess either your approach or intention.

Let’s assume the answer to the first question, “Is it true?” is “Yes.”

There are three scenarios where I find people catch themselves.

1️⃣ You would think “Is it true?” is an easy yes. Why would we give feedback that isn’t true?

It’s worth stopping to consider the wholeness of the truth. Perhaps it’s mostly true, but is it exaggerated in any way?

When you consider this question, you may find there is opportunity to narrow the focus of the feedback.

2️⃣ It may be true, but is it necessary? What is your intent?

I run into this frequently, even in my own instinct to give feedback. Does that person REALLY need to know something? Will it benefit their performance or how they are perceived? Or will it just make me feel better? Is it truly necessary?

3️⃣ If it is kind and necessary, are you saying it in the kindest way possible?

This is a common scenario when giving a direct report feedback. How can you give feedback in a way that is kind?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be direct. You DO want to be direct–there is kindness in doing so–but you can be direct in a kind way. That’s true even if you’re telling someone they’re not performing and are losing their job.

Giving feedback is GOOD. Giving good feedback is HARD. The next time you feel like you should give feedback, let 𝙖𝙝𝙞𝙢𝙨𝙖 and 𝙨𝙖𝙩𝙮𝙖 be your guide, and ask yourself

Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

Which question do you feel can be the hardest when it comes to feedback?

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

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