What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback

April 18, 2014, 12:00 AM

If you look at the neuroscience, the way that we're wired has a profound effect on how we hear and respond to feedback,” says Sheila Heen, the co-author, with Douglas Stone, of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. “Now, we took a look at three variables that are particularly important in terms of your reaction to feedback.  The first is your baseline.  In the literature this is called set point sometimes.  It's sort of a ‘how happy or unhappy are you,’ in the absence of other events in your life.  Where's that level that you come back to?”

Heen points to research that found that people who won the lottery or were sent to jail, a year later, they’re as happy or unhappy as when their luck changed. We each have a baseline. “Now, the reason this matters for feedback, particularly if you have a low set point or baseline, positive feedback can be muffled for you.  The volume is turned down; it's harder for you to hear it,” explains Heen.

Regardless of what your baseline is, there’s an art to receiving feedback. “The ability to turn down feedback and create boundaries is crucial to receiving feedback well and really to creating healthy relationships,” says Stone, Heen's co-author.  

He advises that there are three boundaries that are useful. “One is simply saying I’m willing to listen to your thoughts and your advice but I may not take it.  Another is saying the place that I’m in right now, your advice is not helpful so I would prefer that you not give it to me.  And then the most stringent boundary is saying do not give me this advice and if you continue to give me this advice I’m going to have to leave the relationship,” Stone explains. 

Many of us are too worried about rocking the boat that we simply nod our heads to feedback even if it’s not constructive. This does not serve our own happiness or help us maintain quality relationships. We can’t control others, but we can control how we react to the feedback we are given. As Heen and Stone discuss in their new book, we do have options, and how we handle feedback can have a big impact. 

To watch clips from Big Think’s interviews with Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, the co-authors of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, watch the videos below. 


The Science and Art of Rece...

Newsletter: Share: