How to get more from (even the most unfair) feedback Premium

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Organizations spend huge amounts of time and money training managers on how to give better feedback. But the most crucial part of the feedback system is being neglected: the receiving end. Business Digest explores how, in the words of authors Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, “Learning to receive feedback better can transform how we learn, lead, and behave.”


1. Everyone struggles with receiving feedback
In a 2011 survey from Globoforce, 55 percent of respondents said their performance reviews that year were unfair or inaccurate, and one in four said he or she dreads the performance review more than anything else in their professional life. Whether feedback is unfair or objective, it is always difficult to hear, because any suggestion that you need to change triggers strong emotions.

2. Managing emotional triggers
Getting better at receiving feedback starts with strengthening your ability to rationally manage your emotions, partly through consciously fostering a more curious, analytical mindset.
• Shift from “that’s wrong” to “tell me more”
• Distinguish between the what, the contents of the message, and the who, how you perceive the giver in relation to yourself.
• Distinguish between appreciation, coaching, and evaluation, and have both parties agree in advance which type is the goal of that particular feedback conversation

3. Become a more active receiver
Receiving feedback is not passive. You need to be empowered to become a skilled receiver, actively seeking out the kind of feedback that promotes growth and development and putting a stop to unhelpful feedback.

Receiving feedback at IBM
Suzanne Murphy shares her experiences with becoming a better feedback receiver — something she compares to “learning another language” — and explains how this skill has strengthened her ability to lead teams at IBM.

Based on Thanks for the feedback: The science and art of receiving feedback well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen (Viking, March 2014) and the interview with Suzanne Murphy, leadership designer, IBM, United States (September 2014).

Watch the video:

The Science of Receiving Feedback: A Big Think Mentor workshop with Sheila Heen

Sheila Heen explores the thorny issue of feedback, seeking to provide real solutions to improve the way we use it.