It’s time for your performance review. Your boss opens with the compliments, preparing you for what’s coming next: the feedback you need in order to learn how to improve, and therefore grow in the organization, not to mention develop your career. It’s information you need to take in. But how do you process it, especially if some of the feedback may be difficult to accept?

Sheila Heen, a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School and a founder of Triad Consulting, has written the book, with co-author Douglas Stone, Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. It makes the case for feedback, which we’re constantly giving and receiving, from the world of business to parenting. Why do we so often get it wrong?  

“I think we have a really conflicted relationship with feedback,” says Heen. “All of us have the experience of getting painful, cutting, unfair, off-base, poorly delivered feedback that not only wasn't helpful to us but was actually damaging.”

The well-intentioned friend, the inept manager, the sleep deprived business partner are landmines for delivering feedback that can not only hurt a relationship but also make a person question what it is he or she should be learning or doing differently. It can throw us off course.

“I think that that conflictual relationship really reflects the fact that feedback sits at the junction of two core human needs. Human beings are wired to learn and grow,” explains Heen. “If you look at any of the studies on happiness, getting better at something is a key piece of what makes life satisfying.”

For Big Think Mentor, Heen breaks down how to give and receive feedback in a way that ensures greater happiness and productivity. If you want to do your team, your organization, even your family a favor, sign up for a free trial of Big Think Mentor to take Heen’s full workshop on the art and science of feedback.