Begging to be seen – 8 concrete tips to give genuine development feedback

We are all eager to be seen, be recognised, be valued, be challenged.

In a society where everything seems to go at the speed of light, where information flows continuously and in which we share truncated pictures of ourselves on the net, where mindfulness becomes a trend to help us focus and observe, why don’t we stop and start seeing people around us?

In that context, what means “seeing” a person? To me, it means:

  • Having a genuine interest for their thoughts, feelings and needs
  • Wanting to support them in their self-reflection and development
  • Willing to give without expecting to receive back (no hidden agenda)

Over the past months, I have spent a great time coaching teams and individuals in companies, in the education and social sector as well as teaching future people managers about leadership. Here are a few things I heard from my clients:

“I would like to know what I am doing well and where I could improve in my job. But this is not common practice.”

“I have the impression anybody could do the job I am doing. I do not see why my contribution is of value. “

“I would like to have an objective, yet challenging feedback on the image I give to potential recruiters or to my team members.”

I realise that a major source of unhappiness at work, misfunctioning teams or disengagement of people is the lack of recognition through feedback of others.

I am not referring to yearly appraisal meetings in organisations where feedback is a compulsory step of a process and often linked to a financial reward. I am talking about simple, genuine interest for others and their behaviours, be it through positive or critical feedback.

Here are my 8 tips to help you show people you have truly seen them:

  1. Take time to pause and think through what exactly you want to share with the person and if your motivation to do so is sincere.
  2. Propose, do not impose! Always ask before giving feedback! Be sensitive to the answer and read between the lines (a polite yes is not always a true yes).
  3. Confidentiality and discretion: have the discussion face to face and in a quiet environment.
  4. Show appreciation: this is about supporting the person, not getting rid of what annoyed you!
  5. Take responsibility for your words: start your sentences with “I”, not “you”.
  6. Describe what you observed and what you felt: give concrete examples, explore the effect the person’s behaviour or words had on you.
  7. Do not interpret (invent reasons for the other’s behaviour) or generalise (“always”, “never”)
  8. Your feedback is a present: accept that the recipient may decide or not to act upon it, manage your expectations!

As you can see, it requires time and focus to do it properly. So what are the advantages of practicing it from time to time?

  • It reinforces relationships
  • It builds up a culture of open communication (and encourages others to do the same)
  • It prevents conflicts
  • It helps people self-reflect and develop (by “seeing” and being “seen”)


Why don’t you give it a try? Or support your team in building an open communication culture?

Do not hesitate to contact me to discuss.