Thanks for the Feedback
The Science and Art of receiving
Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen
When we ask people to list their
most difficult conversations,
feedback always comes up.
We swim in an ocean of feedback.
When we give feedback, we notice
that the receiver isn’t good at
receiving it. When we receive
feedback, we notice that the giver
isn’t good at giving it!!
The term ‘feedback’ was coined in
the 1860s, during the industrial
revolution to describe the way in
which outputs of energy,
momentum or signals are
returned to their point of origin in
a mechanical system.
Learning about ourselves can be
painful, sometimes brutally so.
Receiving feedback doesn’t mean
you always have to take the
feedback. Receiving it well means
engaging in the conversation
People who are willing to look at
themselves are just easier to work
with and live with. Being with
people who are grounded and
open is energizing.
Most of us just do fine with
positive feedback, although even
praise can sometimes leave us
There are three feedback triggers:
Truth triggers, Relationship
triggers, Identity triggers.
In feedback, separate
appreciation, coaching and
evaluation in the discussion.
Appreciation is about relationship
and human connection. When your
boss says how grateful he is to have
you on the team.
When you ask your boss for more
direction, you are asking for coaching.
When your boss says you are a strong
performer and can be groomed, that’s
Reassurance, ‘you can do this’, ‘I
trust you to do this’, ’go ahead’
also falls in additional judgments,
but on the positive side.
We need all three
Type of feedback Giver’s purpose
Appreciation To see, acknowledge, connect,
Coaching To help receiver expand
knowledge, sharpen skill,
Evaluation To rate or rank against a set of
standards, to align
expectations, to inform
Appreciation seems the least
important, however, no
relationship can move forward
without appreciation both ways.
Effective feedback needs three things
1. What’s my purpose in giving/receiving this
2. Is it the right purpose from my point of
3. Is it the right purpose from the other
person’s point of view?
Move from that’s wrong to tell me more
Comment What was heard What was meant
Coaching Be more confident Give the impression you
know things even if you
Have the confidence to
say you don’t know
when you don’t know
I wish you weren’t so
Don’t be interesting to
talk to, get bland
You don’t listen to
anyone, its exhausting
Evaluation You’ve received a 4
out of 5 this year
Last year I got a 4.1, I
worked much harder,
why isn’t hard work
No one gets a 5.Few
get a 4 and you’ve
done it twice. You are
doing a great job
Feedback givers arrive at their
feedback in two steps : 1. they
observe data and 2. they interpret
the data that tells a story
Feedback is best when its specific
and not beating around the bush.
Most people are not specific in
conversations for fear of hurting
A blind spot is something we don’t
see about ourselves that others do
Tone of voice also conveys a
surprising amount of information
about our feelings. Sometimes we
need to step up the tone to get
E mail body language:
ALL CAPS is a signal, a bunch of ?????
Is a signal, someone marked cc on the
mail is a strategic placement , the
reply being slow is another signal,
watch , watch for this. There is
In e mail, we know what they said,
we want to know what they meant.
Emotions play a huge role in the gap
between how others see us and how
we assume we are seen. Emotional
math's is really a subject of a larger
dynamic. When something goes
wrong and I am part of it, I will
attribute it to the situation, you will
tend to attribute it to my character.
How I see me How you see me
Truth teller Nasty
High Standards Hypercritical
Offering feedback is ‘holding up
the mirror”. Mirrors are two types
– a supportive mirror and am
A supportive mirror shows us at
our best, a honest mirror shows us
the way look right now.
We all have blind spots because
we cant see our own faces in
conversations, cant hear our tone
of voice and are unaware of our
Look at it from a systems point :
Be on the lookout if you are
externalizing, take responsibility
for your part, and see what will
make you change.
The magic 40 :
Research suggests that 50 % of our
happiness is wired in, 40 % is
attributed to how we interpret
and respond to what happens to
us and 10 % is driven by our
A movie is better when we get lost
in it, and the same is true for life.
Move toward a growth identity
Identity question Fixed GROWTH
Who am I? I'm fixed, I am who I am. I change, learn, grow
Can I change? My traits are fixed, effort
doesn’t change it
My capabilities are always
evolving. Effort and hard work
will pay off
What’s the goal Success. The outcome is what
The process of learning is what’s
rewarding. Success is a by
When do I feel smart
When I do something perfectly. When I struggle and then start to
figure it out.
Response to challenge Threat, I might be exposed Opportunity, I can learn and
Safety within my abilities,
Just outside my abilities to
stretch my capabilities
Rejecting feedback is easy. The
three boundaries for rejection are:
Not taking advice, Not taking
feedback right now and stop, I will
leave if this is the feedback.
Four body skills for managing the
Listening, Asserting, Process
moves and problem solving.
Ask for regular feedback and ask
how you can help better? When
giving feedback, look at what’s
stopping people, i.e. getting in
What leadership and HR can do?
1. Don’t just trumpet benefits, explain
2. Separate appreciation, coaching and
3. Promote a culture of learners.
What team leaders and feedback
givers can do.
1. Model learning, request coaching
2. As givers manage mindset and identity
3. Be aware of how individual differences
collide in an organization ( dreamy,
articulate, big talkers, never get the concept
of responsiveness and deadlines, they need
to be shown the reality of business)