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

by Douglas Stone

Paperback, 2015


Penguin Books (2015), Edition: Reprint, 368 pages


"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"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member kaelirenee
The performance evaluation: every person whose had a job for more than six months has been there…captively sitting and listening to a laundry list of your faults or the infuriating, “You’re doing great,” with nothing added for improvement. Or the worst—the “feed-back sandwich”—where
Show More
your faults are wedged in between what you do well. The entire time, you are frozen in fear. Then, you stew over the negative things said about you. Then you complain about what a waste of time it’s all been. Managers and supervisors are often trained, workshopped, and coached about how to give good feedback. But the work is lost if the person they are evaluating isn’t receptive.

Thanks for the Feedback is vital for anyone who wants to learn how to be better—a better parent, a better spouse, a better employee—because it teaches how to accept various kinds of feedback. This is not instructions on how to grow thicker skin, though. Stone and Heen use their own experience as consultants and Harvard lecturers and copious amounts of research in organizational behavior and psychology to explain exactly what feedback is and why it’s so hard for us to do anything constructive with it. In the first part of the book, the authors explain different types of feedback (appreciation, coaching, and evaluation). Then, they take us through the “triggers” that cause us to react badly to feedback (truth triggers, relationship triggers, identity triggers). Once we understand exactly what they have learned is going through our minds when we hear feedback, they explain what to do about it. They share conversation techniques, negotiation suggestions, and lots of problem solving tricks.

This book is an excellent combination of popular psychology, self-help, relationship advice, and career building. I recommend it for anyone who has a serious desire to improve their communication and listening skills. Or for anyone with a performance evaluation coming up.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Familiar_Diversions
I listened to this audiobook while working on other things, so I unfortunately can't give a very good overview of how it's structured. If I remember right, the authors started by laying out their definition of "feedback," which is broader than you might expect. Telling someone the ways in which
Show More
they could improve the presentation they just practiced counts as feedback. So does telling them that they did great and are going to do just fine during the real thing (encouragement rather than advice). And that person who honked at you during your morning commute because you were zoned out and didn't notice the light had changed to green was also giving you feedback.

After that, I can't really remember much about their organization, although some things they wrote about really stuck with me. For example, I wasn't expecting them to touch on mental health, but they did, discussing the ways an anxious or depressed person's distorted thinking can make it difficult to change how they perceive feedback and advising that readers experiencing that kind of difficulty seek help. I appreciated that.

The authors' advice mostly boiled down to "calm down, shift your thinking about whatever feedback you just received that made you defensive, and try to find the kernels you can work with." In some cases, that involved getting clarification from the other person - about what they meant, the kind of feedback they were really giving you, etc. In other cases, it meant have a conversation with yourself and figuring out the ways in which this obviously wrong person might be right. And in some cases it involved having conversations with folks in which you deliberately addressed things (like feelings) that might otherwise have gone unspoken.

They admitted that some of the things they discussed probably wouldn't come naturally to most people. Some of it sounded so uncomfortable/unnatural to me that I figure I'd have to have a paper copy of this to remind me of enough of the details to even try to put it into practice. Unfortunately, if I remember right, the most uncomfortable/unnatural stuff was connected to the authors' advice for how to take a step back and shift your thinking, even when your knee-jerk reaction is to be defensive or upset. You know, the really hard part.

So yeah, at least parts of this book probably would have worked better in print than in audio, but I did still appreciate it overall. One of my favorite lines: "You aren't going from good to bad, or even from good to complicated. You've been complicated all along." I'll try to remember that the next time something shakes my sense of myself enough to have me anxiously fretting over whether this one thing indicates that I'm a "bad" person. I'm not good or bad - like other people, I'm complicated, and the question is what I can take from this moment, and whether I can learn and grow. (Wow, that sounds cheesy, but sometimes you need cheesy.)

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Show Less





0143127136 / 9780143127130


Page: 0.3944 seconds