Are You Receiving Feedback Correctly?

It can be difficult to hear about the areas where we need to improve. Even if someone is skilled at giving feedback, listening to what we could be doing better can sting, even if following the advice would be good for us. We tend to ignore feedback that’s upsetting, and then we lose an opportunity to grow.


Sheila Heen, a Partner at Triad Consulting Group and the co-author of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, provides insights into learning to give and receive feedback skillfully. In an exclusive 8-part workshop for Big Think Mentor, Heen teaches the strategies and goes into the psychology of the art of feedback and how it can improve our relationships and enrich our lives.

She explains the mistakes people often make when it comes to receiving feedback: “We're primed to look for anything that's wrong with the feedback: 'It was delivered at the wrong time in a totally inappropriate way.  It was completely unskilled, can you believe it.' And so we look for anything we can pick apart. And there are two problems with this. One is if we find five percent that's wrong, we throw the whole thing out, when in fact 90 percent of it could be wrong, but that last ten percent you could actually be just what you need to learn and grow."

The other problem, points out Heen, is that we put labels on feedback. If someone tells us that we need to be more assertive, for instance, then we start wearing that quality like a costume that doesn’t fit right, without fully understanding what it means. Making assumptions can prevent us from using the feedback productively.

For more on Heen’s insights, take advantage of this free workshop from her 8-part exclusive series for Big Think Mentor. Sign up today for a free 14-day trial to learn strategies from Heen and other thought leaders.

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