Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

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The performance evaluation at work; the parenting advice from your mother-in-law; the lecture by the cop who just pulled you over; those suddenly too-tight jeans.

We get feedback every day of our lives, from friends and family, colleagues, customers, and bosses, teachers, doctors, and strangers. We’re assessed, coached, and criticized about our performance, personalities, and appearance.

We know that feedback is essential for professional development and healthy relationships—but we dread it and often dismiss it. That’s because receiving feedback sits at the junction of two conflicting human desires. We want to learn and grow, but we also want to be accepted and respected just as we are 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 simple framework and powerful tools to help us take on life’s blizzard of offhand 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 as well as in personal relationships. It’s the receivers, after all, who interpret what they’re hearing and decide whether and how to change.

Coauthors of the international bestseller Difficult Conversations, Stone and Heen have discovered that while receiving feedback can be fraught, doing it well can be taught. With humor and clarity, the book blends the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice. It is destined to become a classic in the world of leadership, organizational behavior, and education.

What people are saying aboutThanks for the Feedback:

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.

— Kirkus Review

“ I'LL ADMIT IT: THANKS FOR THE FEEDBACK MADE ME UNCOMFORTABLE. AND THAT'S ONE REASON I LIKED IT SO MUCH. WITH KEEN INSIGHT AND LOTS OF PRACTICAL TAKEAWAYS, STONE AND HEEN REVEAL WHY GETTING FEEDBACK IS SO HARD -- AND THEN HOW WE CAN DO BETTER. IF YOU RELISH RECEIVING CRITICISM AT WORK AND ADORE IT IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE, THEN YOU MAY BE THE ONE PERSON ON EARTH WHO CAN SAFELY SKIP THIS BOOK.”— DANIEL H. PINK, AUTHOR OF TO SELL IS HUMAN AND DRIVE
“ THANKS FOR THE FEEDBACK IS A POTENTIALLY LIFE-CHANGING LOOK AT ONE OF THE TOUGHEST BUT MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF LIFE: RECEIVING FEEDBACK. IT'S A ROAD MAP TO LESS DEFENSIVENESS, MORE SELF-AWARENESS, GREATER LEARNING, AND RICHER RELATIONSHIPS. DOUG STONE AND SHEILA HEEN HAVE DELIVERED ANOTHER TOUR DE FORCE.”— ADAM GRANT, WHARTON PROFESSOR AND AUTHOR OF GIVE AND TAKE
“ ACCEPTING FEEDBACK AT WORK IS IMPORTANT, BUT IN FAMILIES, IT’S VITAL. THIS SIMPLE, ELEGANT BOOK TEACHES US HOW.”— BRUCE FEILER, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST AND BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE SECRETS OF HAPPY FAMILIES
“ IMAGINE AN ORGANIZATION WHERE EVERYONE IS ACTUALLY GOOD AT RECEIVING FEEDBACK. COLLECTIVE ANXIETY WOULD BE REDUCED. PEOPLE WOULD LEARN AND GROW. IMPOSSIBLE YOU SAY? THANKS TO THIS INSANELY ORIGINAL AND POWERFUL BOOK, MAYBE NOT.”— JUDY ROSENBLUM, FORMER CHIEF LEARNING OFFICER OF COCA-COLA, AND FOUNDER OF DUKE CORPORATE EDUCATION

“ STARTLINGLY ORIGINAL ADVICE FOR HOW TO MAKE FEEDBACK TRULY USEFUL.”— CHRIS BENKO, VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL TALENT MANAGEMENT, MERCK

“ IF YOU WANT TO LEAD A LEARNING ORGANIZATION, IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF FEEDBACK IS JOB ONE. THIS BOOK IS AN ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO MAKING THAT HAPPEN.”— AMY C. EDMONDSON, NOVARTIS PROFESSOR OF LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT, HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL, AND AUTHOR OF TEAMING

“ LEARNING AND HR PROFESSIONALS AREN’T THE ONLY ONES WHO WILL LOVE THIS BOOK. IT SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING FOR ANYONE RECEIVING A PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL -- AND ANYONE WHO IS STRIVING TO IMPROVE.”— B. ALAN ECHTENKAMP, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GLOBAL ORGANIZATION AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, TIME WARNER INC.