Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to Learn to Receive Feedback Well

This morning your mirror confirmed that yes, indeed, you do look fat in those pants. Your new puppy let you know that your house-training efforts are not working. Then you got to work and your boss had edited your report so heavily the only original thing was your name and the date.
No matter where we get feedback – from our dog or our boss – it can be difficult to take. Even our own mirror doesn’t want to be a friend to us on some days.
We’re often coached on how to give feedback, but no one tells us how to hear feedback and like it. Or at least hear it and not assume the fetal position or punch a hole in the wall.
In a new book, “Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well,” authors Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen contend that how we receive feedback is even more important than how it’s given. In other words, someone can give you really great feedback, but if you’re not open to receiving it in a positive way, what difference does it make?
What are some reasons you dismiss feedback?   Consider:
  • Truth triggers. The feedback seems off-target and is based on incomplete information or out of line with what you’re trying to do. You believe it to be lousy feedback, so you ignore it.
  • Relationship triggers. Forget whatever is being said, it’s the relationship with the person offering the feedback that is the problem. Maybe the person doesn’t appreciate your efforts or accomplishments. It could also be that you distrust the other person’s motives or expertise.
  • Identity triggers.  You’re so overwhelmed by the feedback you can’t discuss it. It undermines how you see yourself in some way, or even threatens your sense of safety or well-being. The feedback can become distorted because you’re so out of sorts.
Stone and Heen say that you can become better at receiving feedback (read more here)

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