Learning the Art of Receiving Feedback

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“When we give feedback, we notice that the receiver isn’t good at receiving it. When we receive feedback, we notice that the giver isn’t good at giving it….the key player is not the giver, but the receiver.” Stone and Heen, Thanks for the Feedback Feedback is essential to our improvement—and our skill in receiving feedback determines the extent to which we will grow. Overcoming automated emotional or cognitive responses that prevent us from benefitting from feedback is a learnable skill that can be practiced. In their book Thanks for the Feedback, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen identify three forms of feedback: appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. Appreciation means being recognized for what we’re doing…being encouraged. Coaching feedback is constructive, adding skills and knowledge, or awareness of needs in a relationship. Evaluation provides expectations and where one stands in relation to those standards. When we are expecting or desiring one type of feedback, but receive another, we cease to benefit from, or even hear, the feedback. For example, if we’re in a new position and learning the ropes, and would like a little direction, but the well-intentioned boss gives a general “you’re doing great, keep it up,” we can be frustrated. As the receivers, we can raise our awareness of any disconnects between what we would like and what we’re being given. That’s a first step in learning the art of receiving feedback.
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