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CityU Library Reviews “Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well”
Review by Tammy Salman, Associate Director of Instruction
We are surrounded by requests to give feedback (How are we doing? Take our survey!), whether from a company where we purchased something, from our friends or family, from our coworkers, administrators, or others we interact with. We give feedback in many ways, through surveys, social media, through conversations, reviews (of restaurants, entertainment, our jobs), and through a variety of other means. It seems we have no shortage of opinions and suggestions to deliver through formal and informal methods, but how do we react when this feedback is directed at us? Not as well as the feedback-givers intended, it turns out.
In Thanks for the Feedback, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, authors of Difficult Conversations, tackle another tough subject. The book is chock-full of useful strategies and common-sense advice for looking inward and reflecting on our reactions to feedback of all sorts, whether it is related to personal or professional relationships.
Stone and Heen identify three categories of feedback prompts (triggers) that cause problems for feedback receivers: Truth, relationship, and identity triggers. In each category, the authors define the bigger picture, give examples of how feedback conversations might look within each category, and share strategies for reflecting on and considering personal ways to re-think your own reactions to feedback.
The authors discuss the art of receiving – or gracefully rejecting – feedback during conversations with people you may not want to hear from (such as a significant other, your parents, a manager or coworker) through the use of boundaries. They delve into listening and how to open and close conversations constructively. Listening to your internal voice is key, and it is important to acknowledge that voice (particularly if it is shouting) and find ways to listen even when conversations are hard to negotiate.
Overall, this book contains a variety of good advice and common sense that applies to our daily lives, whether at work or in personal or other types of relationships.
Thanks for the feedback: The science and art of receiving feedback well (even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and, frankly, you’re just not in the mood). Stone, Douglas and Heen, Sheila. 2014. New York, NY: Viking. 348 pages. (CityU Library BF319.5.F4 S76 2014) Check WorldCat.org to find a copy at the library closest to you.
There are useful examples and concepts in each chapter that could be used as discussion starters. Students could be asked to use the strategies in the book to reflect on situations in which they perhaps did not receive feedback well. How could they have approached the situation better? What opportunities exist for growth when faced with feedback we don’t like? How might some of the methods outlined in the book help them if they encounter similar situations in the future? There are myriad questions which could be asked and many ways to approach discussions of feedback within a course setting – and they could be tailored for any discipline.
Please note: Resources listed with [Login Required] are available to CityU students, faculty and staff, and may be available to other readers through their local libraries.
- Folkman, J. R. (2006). Power of feedback: 35 principles for turning feedback from others into personal and professional change. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. [Login Required]
- Heen, S., & Stone, D. (2014). Find the coaching in criticism. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/01/find-the-coaching-in-criticism
- Stone, D., & Heen, S. (2014). Difficult conversations 2.0: Thanks for the Feedback!Rotman Management, 71-75. [Login Required]
- Stone, D., Heen, S., & Patton, B. (2010). Difficult conversations: How to discuss what matters most. New York, NY: Penguin Books. (CityU Library BF637.C45 S78 2010)
- [Talks at Google]. (2014, March 31). Doug Stone & Sheila Heen: “Thanks for the Feedback” [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SggjK0Gm3I4#t=133
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