#4Steps: Wrapping it up

#12. Wrapping it up

Now you have all the steps that will help you give effective feedback: setting your intention, coming up with an observation, sharing your feelings, and your needs, and the two-sub parts of the request step: making both connection requests and then clear strategy requests that are concrete, positive and doable.

Just as friendly reminder, keep judgment and demands  (including blame and shame) out of your feedback.


Photo credit Emily Orpin

And I want to remind you to include feedback in your life about needs met, both for yourself and others. When thinking about feedback, we often can focus on “constructive criticism” and the glass being half empty: what we don’t like or think needs to be changed. Focusing on what is working for us—via gratitude and appreciation (and also making use of these four steps)–is powerful life fuel for creating change. By focusing on what we do like and want, it becomes more on our radar and easier to replicate and repeat. To experience this, I invite you to take a moment to think about something you’re really happy about, the needs met, and what request you might have.

For example: “Thinking about how I spent 20” stretching today and then rode my bike for thirty minutes the next day, I am so happy and pleased with myself! First of all, I feel energized in my body and healthier. Plus it’s just satisfying to have set a goal like this and to have achieved it! Yay! I think my next goal will be to go swimming at least once this week and do 40 laps!” Notice in this example that you also had a request for yourself—a next step request.

To support practicing around both needs met and unmet,  you may want to review all four steps and have a handy one-page guide to the four steps.  You can download one here: https://workcollaboratively.com/resources/learning-resources/  


Photo credit Emily Orpin

You can also find more resources and learn more at my website, www.workcollaboratively.com and learn more about the model that the Four Steps to Effective Feedback are based on, at www.cnvc.org.  And if you have a question or want to give me feedback, feel free to email me at dian@workcollaboratively.com  (And if you do send me feedback, why don’t you use the four steps! This gives you a chance to practice, and will help me connect with what matters to you. 🙂

Thanks, and I hope you found the course helpful!


#4Steps: A Guide to Strategy Requests

#11. Step 4  – A Guide to Strategy Requests

When focused on a strategy request, you want it to be concrete, positive, and doable. Otherwise, it’s like depending on telepathy to actually get your needs met.


  1. Strategy requests are concrete

This step is in some ways like the observation step. What would the action or outcome look like if you captured it in a camcorder?

For example, if you want more teamwork or cooperation, what would that actually look like? You probably have an idea; that’s why you’re talking about it. But until you think through what it really looks like, in concrete terms, then it’s only half-baked. For example, would teamwork mean for you that when someone starts a new project that impacts others on the team that they let the others know? Or would it mean checking in with others in key points of the process? Or having a shared document with next steps? Any of these steps might seem obvious. And if it’s not happening and you want more teamwork, it could be a concrete place to start.

By the way, just because you’re focused on making concrete requests, it doesn’t mean you need to do all the legwork. Sometimes a concrete request might be, “OK, so I think we’re all on board with the idea of more teamwork. I’d like to hear from each of you one idea about how we could increase it. Could each of you prepare an idea for our next meeting?” Or, “How about we take five minutes to brainstorm together right now–what would greater teamwork look like?”

When coaching managers, this is often a key area we focus on – how to engage and motivate others. By asking others to help you solve something, it’s a great way to involve them and boost accountability.  

This is a high form of leadership. You don’t need to figure everything out yourself!


Photo credit Tony Brooks

  1. Strategy requests are positive

In addition to being concrete, you want to be positive. This, in effect, is an extension of being concrete. If you say what you don’t want, it’s not really clear what you do want. So what DO you want?

If you send someone into an ice cream shop that has 35 flavors of ice cream and you tell the person, don’t get vanilla or chocolate, how will they know what to get?

It’s a lot more work for the other person to try to figure it out. Stating what you want in the positive makes it easier for the other person to act on it. If it’s negative, there are many different things they could be doing instead. For example, rather than, I don’t want you working on this project right now,” you might say, “Given the bottle neck with the other contract, I’d really like you to focus on the St. Peter contract for the next two weeks. How does that sound to you?”  

(Bonus: Notice that after making a clear, positive, doable request I followed up with a connection request. This is a great way to also keep dialogue open and boost buy-n and engagement—and collaboration! 🙂


Photo credit Tristan Martin

  1. Strategy requests are doable

Often to make things concrete, it’s helpful to have a number of some kind- how many and what duration? This is what also makes it doable. If you don’t give a start or end time, it can seem like an endless task…and there is less accountability.

If you ask someone, “Will you take out the trash from now on?” I hope they say no. That’s an impossible agreement. And the most effective way to create change is via incremental steps, what I call a micro step. “Ok, would you take the garbage out twice this week, and I’ll pick up the mail. Then let’s touch base on Sunday to see how that worked for both of us. How does that sound?”  (Note again that we ended here with a connection request!)

Regarding accountability, someone once asked me to write a letter about an incident that happened. I cared about the issue and agreed.  But there was no timeline. So I still have not written the letter—six years later! I guess I still might. But if we’d had a clear plan: “OK, I’ll write the letter, and get it done by the end of the month,” I’m pretty sure I would have gotten it done by now.

Now that we’ve reviewed the key elements in making what I consider powerful strategy requests (that are concrete, positive, and doable), why don’t you try one? Think of something you’d like to be doing or doing differently. For example, say you want to exercise more. What does that look like this week? Would you for example like to spend 20” this morning doing yoga stretches and ride your bike for 30 minutes or more at least once in the next few days?

Think of a goal that you have for yourself and come up with a concrete, positive, doable request. Make sure you do a micro step–chunk it down. Taking clear, concrete, small next steps is far more effective in the long run in actually running and winning the race! And how does it feel to have a clear, concrete step to take?

Having a concrete next step I find is energizing and motivating. It’s doable and tangible—so gives me confidence and motivation!

#4Steps: Getting Your Needs Met (Connection Requests, Part Two)

#10 Step 4 (Part 2) – Getting Your Needs Met (Connection Requests, Part Two)

Making a connection request is like getting a weather report. It also helps you get to the next kind of request you’ll make, once you have connection:  a strategy request.

The reason you want to connect with the person first is because the strategy you suggest will depend on what information they share with you.

For example, if you share about your disappointment about someone cancelling a trip and they say, “Yes, I can understand why you’re disappointed—I’m disappointed too!,” that’s a very different conversation than if the person says, “Well, you may be irritated but you never follow through on things either!” If someone pushes back and becomes defensive, there may be something they need to be heard about.

Regardless, going into a specific strategy, such as, “Well, can we plan another trip?” or “Well, it’s the last time I plan a trip with you. Game over!” is premature. After sharing what we’ve seen or heard, how we’re feeling about it, and what need is up for us, it’s key to find out how our message is landing with the other person.  


Photo credit A. Golden

Connection requests are key to giving effective feedback, since what partly makes feedback effective is the other person’s ability to act on what we’re telling them. If we don’t know how they’re seeing things, we can’t come up with a strategy that will work for both of us and be effective. Sometimes it takes a few rounds of sharing observations, feelings and needs and making connection requests before we’re really ready for strategies. Once both parties are clear and connected, it’s usually much easier to find a strategy that works for everyone.

Why? It’s much easier to find solutions once you’re on the same page with someone.  So far, we’ve been focused on that: getting on the same page via sharing an observation, how you’re feeling and what you’re needing, and then checking in with the other person, via a connection request. All of this is about connection.


Photo credit Nikola Andjelic

In the next lesson, we going to actually focus on how both parties might meet their needs most effectively through strategy requests.

Meanwhile, take a moment and reflect: When was the last time you made a decision with someone where there was a high level of trust and connection? How easy was it to make the decision and how happy were you with the outcome? Now reflect on the opposite: where you made a decision where there was a lack of trust and connection and collaboration. Which experience and outcome do you prefer?


#4Steps: Putting It All Together (Connection Requests)

#9 Step 4 (Part 1) – Putting It All Together (Connection Requests)

So far we’ve focused first on external reality – what we’ve seen or heard in the external world, and then how we’re experiencing that, internally, via our feelings and needs.

All of the steps so far work towards our taking responsibility for our experience and sharing what matters free of judgment, demand, guilt or blame. Here are the steps we’ve done so far, put together:

“I’m thinking about what I heard you say yesterday—that you don’t want to go to the Bahamas after all” (OBSERVATION) “and I’m really disappointed and confused”… (FEELINGS). “I’m wanting to trust agreements we make, and that time with me matters to you too.”  (NEEDS).  

These three steps are powerful, but without making a request, our listener is left hanging.


photo credit: Kevin Dooley

Marshall Rosenberg, the psychologist who developed the bones of the model I’m sharing with you, often said that hearing someone’s feelings and needs without hearing a request is a form of hell. Why? Because hearing about someone’s feelings and needs is compelling. When someone is in need, we want to help! If we leave out the request, our listener has to do the detective work of figuring out what we might actually want. Or it could sound like complaining. Ultimately, it is our responsibility, not theirs, to see how our needs can be met. And it’s up to us to think that through, and ask for their support in meeting our needs.

There are two kinds of requests I’m going to suggest to you:

  1. Connection Requests
  2. Strategy Requests (Clear/Concrete, Positive, and Do-able- or “CPD” requests)

photo credit: Olga Berrios

In the rest of this lesson, we’re going to focus on connection requests.

So often we want to jump ahead to a particular strategy. (This is what I heard you say, I’m feeling____, and wanting _____ (need), and so I want you to do X.) But when we move that quickly, we often lose our audience. They’re with us when we share the observation, and how we’re feeling and what we’re needing. But when we go too quickly into a strategy, then they can sometimes see us as a bully or pushing an agenda, and they might push back in response. No one likes being coerced.

You also will find better solutions usually, and get the other person’s buy in and engagement, and accountability, when you co-create. This is what connection requests are all about.

The most basic connection request is to ask, “I wonder how you feel, hearing this?”

Note that sometimes you will not get an actual feeling when you ask this question. You may get an opinion back, or simply some kind of approval or disapproval. Regardless of how the person responds, you are getting valuable information. If they say, for example, “Wow, I didn’t know you were seeing it that way!” or “I’m so sorry!” then you know there is some openness and receptivity. If they push back in some way – “What do you mean you’re frustrated – you’ve cancelled on dinner plans three times this month yourself!” that’s helpful too. At least you know where you stand, and what might make sense as a next step in your dialogue.

If someone does push back, it can be helpful to pause and check in about their feelings and needs. Once they are heard about their experience, they are far more likely to have space to hear you. This can take several rounds, depending on how much they have to say. After hearing them, it can be helpful to make another connection request, checking in by asking, for example, “Did I get it all? Is there anything else you want to add?”

Once the person has been heard, or if the person does show openness to your concerns and you’re confident that they’ve heard you, then you can move on to a strategy. Actually, that step usually organically happens. Once both parties have been heard, it’s natural to want to explore solutions.  But to get there, making connection requests is key. A connection request is all about completing the loop. It’s a way to see how the other person is feeling and seeing things, and making sure you’ve made yourself clear and been heard.


photo credit: Olga Berrios


Here are some sample connection requests you might want to try making the next time you’re sharing something important to you:

* How do you feel hearing this?

* Does that make sense?

* I wonder if you can understand why I might be feeling this way?

*I’m not sure if I explained this clearly or not, so am wondering: What did you hear me say? Could you give me a headline back, to make sure we’re on the same page?


Your turn:

In the next day, try making a connection request when speaking with someone. Then note: how does it make a difference in creating understanding and connection?


#4Steps: What’s driving you? (part 2)

#8. Step 3: What’s driving you?  (“How feelings connect to needs”)

Take a moment and think again about what happened.

What did you hear or see that you want to give feedback about (the observation – step one).

When you think about what you saw or what you heard, how do you feel (feelings- step two)?

Given how you’re feeling, what are you needing (step three)?

Choose two or three feeling words and two or three needs connected to those feelings. (Feel free to consult the lists for guidance again.)


photo credit: Nicholas Tonelli

For example, if someone has agreed to go on vacation three times with you and each time told you they had too much work to do, I imagine you’d be feeling disappointed, frustrated, angry, or hurt. And you’d probably be wanting some reassurance that you could trust agreements they make, and also perhaps wanting to trust that your needs, and the relationship, matter.

Did you hear the needs here? Reassurance, honoring agreements, and mattering. This is very different from saying, “You never follow through on your word!  And you clearly don’t care about me or spending time together!”  

Another key reason to connect with our needs is that doing so can help us to recalibrate and self-manage our response.

If you think back to what you saw or heard and how you were feeling when thinking about what happened, you might notice feelings that are uncomfortable in some way in your body. When our needs are not being met, we’re not happy.  Our bodies restrict, and experience tightness or tension. Yet when we connect with our needs, and imagine those needs met or fulfilled (the fulfillment of the needs, rather than the lack of them), we usually experience some relaxation or relief in our bodies. When we’re relaxed and our blood is flowing, it’s usually much easier to speak up in a way that’s effective.


photo credit: Chad Cooper

Now that you have an observation and are connected to what’s driving the feedback (your feelings and needs), you’re more than halfway there in giving effective feedback!

Tomorrow we will start focusing on requests so that people can be invited to respond in a concrete and tangible way to our experience and concerns.


For now, let’s take a moment for self-connection.

Thinking about what you’ve learned so far, what’s one thing that’s really standing out for you?

How are you feeling, thinking about what you’ve learned?

And what need has that met for you?  

#4Steps: What’s driving you?

#7. Step 3: What’s driving you?  (“What needs were you attempting to meet”)

In the previous bit, we explored noticing how you’re feeling, and why it’s helpful and important to notice and share what you’re feeling in a neutral and responsible way, free of blame.

Another reason it’s helpful to notice what you’re feeling is because each feeling connects us to a need, the intrinsic motivation we spoke about on day two.

Our needs are life fuel. They motivate us, keep us going, and drive our decisions. We may not always like the choices we make, and at each moment we are doing the best we can to address and meet our needs.


Take a moment and consider:

What needs were you attempting to meet by signing up for this course?

Probably needs for learning, self-development, insight and maybe competency and support.  It’s the desire to meet these needs that led you to take action.

By sharing our needs with others, it can be very connecting and clarifying. Moreover, it gives a way to further share what matters to us in a way that’s free of blame or demand. It supports self-awareness, clarity, connection, and responsibility.


photo credit: James Campbell

First, let’s see how feelings connect to needs. Think back for a second about what you want to share (the observation – step one) and how you feel about what you saw or heard (feelings – step two).  Aware of what you’re feeling, what needs are up for you? Note how your feelings are like a sign, pointing to your needs.

So, for example, if you are confused, you probably are wanting understanding or clarity. If you’re frustrated or impatient, you might be wanting movement (forward) or hope. If angry, you might be wanting understanding or respect.

Take a moment now: notice how you’re feeling (if you like, review the list we used in the previous bit).

Then look below at the list of needs. What are you needing?  

  • Hope
  • Trust
  • Peace of mind
  • Confidence
  • Movement (forward)
  • Clarity
  • Shared reality
  • Understanding
  • Support
  • Responsiveness
  • Empathy
  • Respect
  • Confidence
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Peace
  • Harmony
  • Happiness
  • Balance
  • Mutuality


The above list is a partial list. If you like, you can download a more complete list here:  https://workcollaboratively.com/resources/learning-resources /

Note that our needs are very different from strategies. Often we can confuse the two.

For example, if you want to tell someone, “I need you to be quiet!” that is not actually a need. It’s an action. Your need is probably for peace, rest, silence, care or consideration.


photo credit: Meg Wills

Needs are universal, and can be met in many different ways. If you want quiet, you ask someone to turn the radio off or you can also move to a different room. Or you can use earplugs.

By sharing what you’re needing, free of strategy, you’re actually making it easier for your needs to be met. You’re letting the other person know what’s up for you and then, through a request (which we’ll explore in step four) you can explore together how to best see your needs (and their needs) met.

#4Steps: Getting the Pulse of What Matters

#6. Step Two – Getting the Pulse of What Matters  

Now that you’ve identified what you’ve seen or heard (what you’re responding to), let’s focus on what’s driving the situation. If you want to share something, there’s a reason for that. You probably are upset or concerned about something, or confused or impatient, or maybe even disappointed or hurt. You could also be excited or grateful.

Knowing how you’re feeling about a situation is very helpful. It supports self-connection and clarity. It points to why you’re having the conversation in the first place. If you’re feeling confused, for example, you’re probably wanting clarity. If impatient, you probably want movement forward. If you’re hurt, you probably want understanding,  reassurance, trust, or connection. If you’re excited, you might be wanting celebration!

Sharing how you’re feeling also helps to take the blame or shame out of the situation, making it easier for others to hear you and for you to share what’s happening.

Note that we’re not saying here that someone else made you feel this way. Your feelings are your feelings.

In fact, it’s what you heard or saw (step one) and what you’re telling yourself about what happened that are actually acting as the stimulus for your feelings.

By sharing how you’re feeling, free of judgment or blame, you’re simply sharing helpful information – information that is compelling for others.


As humans, we are naturally empathic. So when we hear a feeling – excited, appreciative, angry or confused or whatever the feeling is, it naturally gets our interest and attention, usually far more than hearing an evaluation or judgment. Feelings can invite interest, connection or concern. Judgment or blame invite pushback, defensiveness and disagreement.


Take a moment to reflect:

Think about something you’d like to share with another person.

How do you feel – including in your body – when you think about what happened and what you want to talk about.

What sensations do you notice? What emotions?  

Be sure to choose a word that’s really a feeling, rather than a word that can be used after the word “feeling” and is actually a judgment. For example, you can say, “I feel unappreciated!” but “unappreciated” is actually an evaluation. What it actually means is that the other person is not appreciating you.   If you’re telling yourself that, you’re probably feeling hurt or disappointed.

Here are some feelings that might be up for you, if there’s something you want to bring to someone’s attention:

  • Confused
  • Impatient
  • Frustrated
  • Hurt
  • Disappointed
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Deflated
  • Concerned
  • Irritated
  • Discouraged
  • Depressed
  • Disheartened
  • Mad
  • Unhappy
  • Stressed
  • Anxious
  • Worried
  • Eager
  • Excited
  • Pleased
  • Energized
  • Appreciative
  • Grateful
  • Curious


Feelings 1.jpgIn our culture, feelings often get a bad rap. No one wants to be seen as “too emotional” or “out of control.” But being reactive about our feelings happens when we’re not connected or paying attention to them. When they’re ignored, glossed over or suppressed, they can get even bigger and harder to handle, like an elephant in the room.

Note too that some of these feelings are “happy” or “neutral” feelings—such as grateful and curious. Those kinds of feelings can come up too when you want so share something.

Ultimately, I consider all feelings to be “positive.” That we’re feeling something is a neon light, telling us that something matters and is important to us and that we’re alive. That awareness and the ability to name it is empowering and liberating. 

Take time to reflect:

How do you think it will help you to give feedback by sharing how you’re feeling?

Which would you rather hear? How someone is feeling or their judgment and blame?

Read more:

The list above is a short, sample list. To download a fuller list of feelings, click here:  

https://workcollaboratively.com/resources/learning-resources/ You can also find here a faux list of feelings, that can sound like feelings but actually are evaluations.  

#4Steps: Creating Shared Reality (Part Two)

how-the-illusion-of-being-observed-can-make-you-better-person_1.jpg#5. Step One- Creating Shared Reality (Part Two)  (“Here is what I observed”)

If you want to talk about an action or something that happened, share what you observed, free of judgment or blame. Imagine that you have a camcorder—recording exactly what happened on video tape, or that you’re like a sports commentator giving a “play-by-play” account in an accurate and succinct way.

Rather than saying, for example, “You screwed up!” (an evaluation or interpretation of what happened) just share the facts. “I told you this client was slow-moving and I asked you to hold off in following up and then you emailed them two days later.”  

Or, rather than saying, “You’re not doing your share!” let them know what that means in actual terms: “Last week you said you’d take the garbage out and pick the mail up, and I haven’t seen you do either this week.”  


Take a moment and consider:

Imagine you’re on the receiving end of a statement.  Which would be easier to hear: “You just don’t care!” or “This is the third time you’ve planned a vacation with me and then said you’re too busy to go.”

Which one has less blame or risk of being heard as blame? Even if it’s still a difficult message to hear, how will it be easier if it’s not blame or heard as blame? And how will sharing the facts, exactly what you heard or saw, foster shared reality?

#4Steps: Creating Shared Reality (Part One)

#4. Step One: Creating Shared Reality (Part One)  (“Here is what I heard”)

Now that you’ve done the pre-step, connecting to the purpose or meaning it would give you to speak up, let’s focus on what you actually want to say.

Usually in giving feedback we’re responding to something we heard or saw someone say or do.

To create a shared reality about what happened, it’s very helpful to be as concrete as possible about what we saw or heard.

How do we create a shared reality?

When responding to something we heard, that’s easy. Just let the other person know, as succinctly as possible, exactly what you heard them say.

For example, if you think someone said something wrong or inaccurate, rather than saying, “What you said is wrong,” or “You misunderstood things!,” let the person know the exact words you heard. For example, “Yesterday I heard you say we need to get the results before we do a draft of the report.” Or “I heard you say last week you don’t want to go on vacation in July.” Give the specific words you heard.  


Notice that part of what makes this concrete is that we:

  1. Use “I” statements. This has accuracy because we can’t say for sure what the other person said. We can say for sure what we heard the other person say.
  2. Give some reference to when you heard this. For example, “Just now…” or “Last night…” or “Several times in the last month I’ve heard you say…” “or  “At our last meeting…” this helps with creating shared reality.
  3. Avoid summarizing or giving your opinion about what you heard. Just share the actual words. This is probably the most important part of giving effective feedback—letting the other person know exactly what you heard them say.


Take a moment and consider:

In the next day, take a moment to practice this step.  The next time you’re irritated, angry, disappointed or impatient, take a moment to check.  What exactly did you hear? What exactly happened?   

If you do share it and the person pushes back, check to see if you really have given a complete observation. One time I approached a taxi driver on my bicycle and said, “Excuse me, I wonder if you noticed you cut me off at the last light?” The driver snapped back, “Lady, I didn’t cut you off!” When I was able to give him a clear observation:“Well, you pulled over to the curb to a drop a passenger off without indicating and I had to brake to avoid hitting you, and almost flew over my handle bars”- he immediately apologized.