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Tips and Techniques [1402.17]

How to Receive Feedback

There has been some recent buzz about a book that will be published in early March: "Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well" by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. I'm interested to see it when it comes out, though I'm a little apprehensive. Too often books like these are either filled with fluff, state things that are obvious to a ten-year-old (at least to me when I was ten), or both (I'm looking at you, Outliers!).

After looking around on the internet quite a bit, I found some material on the book, including the following:

Perhaps the obviousness of the above points is due to my many years of learning kendo, a traditional Japanese martial art. Because we are taught to respect the sensei, we are taught to be grateful for any feedback given (including getting hit on the head!). However, since I am pretty competitive, I soon figured out that in order to improve, as well as continue to be given advice, I sometimes needed to work out on my own how to make sense of the advice.

Having said that, I do see some kenshi who have a difficult time receiving advice. You can see them mentally formulating a denial to the advice while the sensei is still in the middle of giving it (the authors' "wrong spotting" in action), and some may actually voice their denial, sometimes as soon as the sensei pauses in the middle of the advice.

Maybe the art of receiving feedback is not so obvious after all.

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