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Thanks for the Feedback
Cover of Thanks for the Feedback
Thanks for the Feedback
The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well
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The bestselling authors of the classic Difficult Conversations teach us how to turn evaluations, advice, criticisms, and coaching into productive listening and learning

We swim in an ocean of feedback. Bosses, colleagues, customers—but also family, friends, and in-laws—they all have "suggestions" for our performance, parenting, or appearance. We know that feedback is essential for healthy relationships and professional development—but we dread it and often dismiss it.

That's because receiving feedback sits at the junction of two conflicting human desires. We do want to learn and grow. And we also want to be accepted just as we are right now. Thanks for the Feedback is the first book to address this tension head on. It explains why getting feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, and offers a powerful framework to help us take on life's blizzard of off-hand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited advice with curiosity and grace.

The business world spends billions of dollars and millions of hours each year teaching people how to give feedback more effectively. Stone and Heen argue that we've got it backwards and show us why the smart money is on educating receivers— in the workplace and in personal relationships as well.

Coauthors of the international bestseller Difficult Conversations, Stone and Heen have spent the last ten years working with businesses, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. With humor and clarity, they blend the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice. The book is destined to become a classic in the world of leadership, organizational behavior, and education.

The bestselling authors of the classic Difficult Conversations teach us how to turn evaluations, advice, criticisms, and coaching into productive listening and learning

We swim in an ocean of feedback. Bosses, colleagues, customers—but also family, friends, and in-laws—they all have "suggestions" for our performance, parenting, or appearance. We know that feedback is essential for healthy relationships and professional development—but we dread it and often dismiss it.

That's because receiving feedback sits at the junction of two conflicting human desires. We do want to learn and grow. And we also want to be accepted just as we are right now. Thanks for the Feedback is the first book to address this tension head on. It explains why getting feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, and offers a powerful framework to help us take on life's blizzard of off-hand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited advice with curiosity and grace.

The business world spends billions of dollars and millions of hours each year teaching people how to give feedback more effectively. Stone and Heen argue that we've got it backwards and show us why the smart money is on educating receivers— in the workplace and in personal relationships as well.

Coauthors of the international bestseller Difficult Conversations, Stone and Heen have spent the last ten years working with businesses, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. With humor and clarity, they blend the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice. The book is destined to become a classic in the world of leadership, organizational behavior, and education.

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  • From the book

    Before you tell me how to do it better, before you lay out your big plans for changing, fixing, and improving me, before you teach me how to pick myself up and dust myself off so that I can be shiny and successful—know this: I've heard it before.

    I've been graded, rated, and ranked. Coached, screened, and scored. I've been picked first, picked last, and not picked at all. And that was just kindergarten.

    We swim in an ocean of feedback.

    Each year in the United States alone, every schoolchild will be handed back as many as 300 assignments, papers, and tests. Millions of kids will be assessed as they try out for a team or audition to be cast in a school play. Almost 2 million teenagers will receive SAT scores and face college verdicts thick and thin. At least 40 million people will be sizing up one another for love online, where 71 percent of them believe they can judge love at first sight. And now that we know each other . . . 250,000 weddings will be called off, and 877,000 spouses will file for divorce.1

    More feedback awaits at work. Twelve million people will lose a job and countless others will worry that they may be next. More than 500,000 entrepreneurs will open their doors for the first time, and almost 600,000 will shut theirs for the last. Thousands of other businesses will struggle to get by as debates proliferate in the boardroom and the back hall about why they are struggling. Feedback flies.2

    Did we mention performance reviews? Estimates suggest that between 50 and 90 percent of employees will receive performance reviews this year, upon which our raises, bonuses, promotions—and often our self-esteem—ride. Across the globe, 825 million work hours—a cumulative 94,000 years—are spent each year preparing for and engaging in annual reviews. Afterward we all certainly feel thousands of years older, but are we any wiser?3

    Margie receives a "Meets Expectations," which sounds to her like "Really, You Still Work Here?"

    Your second grader's art project, "Mommy Yells," was a hot topic at the school's Open House Night.

    Your spouse has been complaining about your same character flaws for years. You think of this less as your spouse "giving you feedback," and more as your spouse "being annoying."

    Rodrigo reads over his 360-degree feedback report.4 Repeatedly. He can't make head or tail of it, but one thing has changed: He now feels awkward with his colleagues, all 360 degrees of them.

    Thanks for the Feedback is about the profound challenge of being on the receiving end of feedback—good or bad, right or wrong, flippant, caring, or callous. This book is not a paean to improvement or a pep talk on how to make friends with your mistakes. There is encouragement here, but our primary purpose is to take an honest look at why receiving feedback is hard, and to provide a framework and some tools that can help you metabolize challenging, even crazy-making information and use it to fuel insight and growth.

  • • •

    In 1999, along with our friend and colleague Bruce Patton, we published Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. Since then, we've continued to teach at Harvard Law School and to work with clients across continents, cultures, and industries. We've had the privilege of working with an amazing assortment of people: executives, entrepreneurs, oil rig operators, doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists, engineers, religious leaders, police officers, filmmakers, lawyers, journalists, and relief workers. Even dance instructors and astronauts.

    Here's something we noticed...

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2014
    A guide to taking the bad feedback with the good and learning from what we're told. As Harvard Law School lecturers Stone and Heen (co-authors: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, 1999) note early on, there have been countless books on the management side of the feedback equation: how to be a good boss and effective leader, delivering feedback to employees that hits every nail on the head. While it's often a shell game to drive employees to be better while also not burning them out, surprisingly little attention has been focused on being an effective recipient of feedback. Enter Stone and Heen with a well-rounded consideration of "the science and art of receiving feedback well." As they write, both of those disciplines are required to receive feedback in productive ways--not only in the workplace, but in personal life as well. The authors examine therapy and neurology as two of the avenues through which we can locate and address the blocks to feedback; thoughts can cause emotions, emotions can cause thoughts, and feedback from someone in a position of authority can trigger the fight-or-flight response. For their purposes, the authors equate emotions with feelings, and one of the responses is to dismantle the distortions that come from the feedback filtering through our emotions. The applications of just this idea itself are wide-ranging, and the authors do an excellent job of constraining the applications to feedback usefulness while also exploring some of the other ways we can define what "feedback" consists of in our lives. With a culture increasingly focused on the individual and the self, this book on developing the ability to accept and utilize the input of others constructively deserves a wide readership.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Thanks for the Feedback
Thanks for the Feedback
The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well
Douglas Stone
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