#GLS15 session 9: Sheila Heen

Thanks for the Feedback

How to receive feedback as a gift, regardless of how unfair, off base and poorly delivered, or open you are to it.  

Wow, fascinating promise.  I look forward to learning this one.

  • Feedback is all the information available for you to learn about you.  It can be formal, informal, spoken, unspoken.  It is your performance review, but it is also your daughter’s eyes lighting up, it is the pain in my left foot reminding me of my age, it is the signals you’re getting from the person next to you.  
  • In any exchange between a giver and receiver, the receiver is in charge, they have the power on being open or not, interpreting etc.  discovering this was a lightbulb moment, so I focused my study on developing the skill of receiving feedback.  
  • Feedback sits at the junction of two core human needs: one the one hand, we want to learn and grow.  On the other hand, we need to feel accepted, respected and loved the way we are now.  Feedback says, ‘the way you are now is not ok.  You need to make some upgrades to your behavior or personality.’ 
  • Golf: that occasional good shot tricks you into thinking you are getting better at it.  You’re not.  LOL!
  • Why can’t we have a pain free learning system?  Part of my work is to better understand the pain necessary to be able to learn and grow.  
  • 3 different kinds of feedback and humans need all 3 kinds to learn and grow
  • 1. Evaluation: rate and ranked vs peers.  an example: a performance review, your time in a 5k race, your cholesterol number.  Know where you stand so you know what to expect. 
  • 2. Coaching: anything you can know to get better at a skill.  Anything aimed to help you learn.  Mentoring, advice etc,  
  • 3. Appreciation: I see you, you matter.  ‘I wish someone noticed I what I do around here.’
  • Appreciation helps us stay motivated, coaching helps us improve, evaluation helps us know what to do next.  
  • As you become more senior, fewer people risk giving you candid coaching.  They don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with you.  Colin Powell has also said this. 
  • Detangle evaluation and coaching.  Evaluation is the most emotionally charged.  Evaluate in one setting, coach in another setting.  In a term paper, the grade is evaluation, the margin comments are the coaching.  If the grade is low, they don’t read the margin comments.  
  • Getting better at receiving feedback does not obligate you to take the feedback.  Chapter 10 of my book is all about boundaries and how to filter feedback.  
  • The reason to reject feedback may be good reasons, the problem is we evaluate it too fast.  As feedback is coming, we decide what is wrong with it, rather than learning to receive it.  You will always be able to find something wrong with the feedback you get.  
  • Your trigger reaction to feedback can be the beginning of your journey, not the final word. 
  • Three trigger reactions: truth trigger (assessing the content of the feedback), relationship (who is giving it), identity (the story toy tell yourself about who you are, how you’re wired.) 
  • The scale of receptivity has about a 3000% variation from highly sensitive people to highly insensitive.  
  • Sometimes the people closest to us trip that need to be accepted as we are, so ironically we can be less open to those who know us and love us the most.  This explains why a stranger can tell you something a loved one has been saying for years, but you listen to the stranger.  Brilliant insight!  So true, I think.  
  • Skills for receiving feedback are the same the world over, regardless of culture.  
  • 1: not doing anything.  Pause and ask more insight, because when we first hear feedback, we jump to interpretation.  But also, the feedback giver does not often communicate succinctly.  So the giver and receiver both have communications blindspots.  
  • ‘Have you ever heard or seen yourself on audio or video? It’s horrifying, right? I have further bad news: that is what everyone else sees everyday!’
  • Seeing yourself clearly is impossible: your body language, tone of voice, impact on others etc.  so understanding the impact you have involves ‘phone a friend.’ 
  • We tend to use our friends to join our team in reassuring us that we’re ok.  Instead, invite friends to the more difficult feedback of asking them to help you look in the ‘honest mirror.’ What do you look like when you are not at your best. 
  • The fastest way to change the feedback culture in any organization is for the leader to become a better receiver.  
  • Every body has a secret list that they pass among each other of all the things that you do that drive them crazy and make their job harder.  
  • The key to receiving valuable and helpful feedback, 1. What is one thing you particularly appreciate about how I do my work? 2. What is one thing you see me doing or failing to do that you think is getting in the way.  
  • People won’t give you feedback until they believe you want to know it.  

A very helpful, concrete session on a sensitive topic.  Sheila delivered on her claim that she would give tools to better receive difficult feedback.  

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