Tips and Techniques
How to Receive Feedback
There has been some recent buzz about a book that will be published in early
"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,
After looking around on the internet quite a bit, I found some material on
the book, including the following:
- A conversation with the authors
"[How] we receive feedback is actually more important than
how feedback is given...
If youíre going to take charge of your own learning, youíve got to
get good at ... [drawing]
value out of any feedback, even off-base, poorly timed, or poorly
tendency is to either reject feedback as "wrong," or to get totally
knocked over by just how right it is...
Iím [now] better at understanding why the feedback makes sense, even
if itís not 100% right, and Iím also better at keeping very stressful
feedback in perspective."
"When youíre really struggling with feedback that seems fundamentally
'off,' divide a sheet of paper into two columns and make two lists. On
the left, list all the things that are wrong with the feedback. What
they are saying isnít true, itís unfair, theyíre one to talk, when they
gave it was inappropriate, how they gave it was pathetically unskilled,
why they gave it is suspect. Now on the right make a list of things that
might be right about the feedback. Too often we use all that is wrong
with the feedback we get to cancel out the possibility that there is
anything right about it. Your feedback might be 99% wrong, but that 1%
thatís right might be just the insight you need."
- How You Can Turn A
Performance Review Into A Great Learning Experience
"So what's the biggest mistake we all make when it comes to feedback?
[The authors] call it 'wrong spotting'...
You just want to show theyíre wrong about something so you can
ignore everything they say.
"To know when feedback is valid, [the authors] recommend you listen for
If you keep hearing the same thing over and over, itís probably true and
probably something you should act on."
- Find the Coaching in Criticism (a Harvard Business Review article by the authors)
"[The following six steps] will keep you from throwing valuable feedback
onto the discard pile or, just as damaging, accepting and acting on
comments that you would be better off disregarding.
- Know your tendencies
- Disentangle the 'what' from the 'who'
- Sort toward coaching
- Unpack the feedback
- Ask for just one thing
- Engage in small experiments"
"Criticism is never easy to take. Even when you know that itís essential
to your development and you trust that the person delivering it wants
you to succeed, it can activate psychological triggers. You might feel
misjudged, ill-used, and sometimes threatened to your very core.
Your growth depends on your ability to pull value from criticism in spite
of your natural responses and on your willingness to seek out even more
advice and coaching from bosses, peers, and subordinates. They may be
good or bad at providing it, or they may have little time for it, but you
are the most important factor in your own development. If youíre
determined to learn from whatever feedback you get, no one can stop you."
Perhaps the obviousness of the above points is due to my many years of learning
, 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"
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.