143: How to Get Way Better at Accepting Feedback, with Sheila Heen
Published June 2, 2014
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43 min
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    You may have received training on giving feedback, but do you maximize how you receive it? On this show, discover how to get way better at accepting feedback.

    Guest: Sheila Heen
    Author with Douglas Stone of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well*
    Author with Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton of the New York Times Business Bestseller Difficult Conversations*

    Feedback sits at the core of two human needs:

    Our need to get better
    Our need to be accepted, respected, and loved for how we are now

    “Who’s giving the feedback is often a louder message than what they’re saying.” -Sheila Heen

    The six steps:

    1. Know your tendencies

    Baseline (or set point): a level of satisfaction that you gravitate towards in the absence of life events
    Swing: how far positive or negative feedback knocks you off your baseline
    Recovery: how long it takes you to come back to your baseline
    Recovery speed can be different for positive and negative feedback
    Understanding your profile can help you dismantle your distortions
    Also, this helps you to be more empathetic to others who have different styles than you do

    2. Disentangle the “what” from the “who”

    If the feedback is wise, it shouldn’t matter who delivers it (but it does).
    Solicit feedback from the people who you find difficult to work with

    3. Sort towards coaching

    Three kinds of feedback

    Appreciation: sometimes when people ask for more feedback, they really want more of this
    Coaching: helping you get better at something
    Evaluation: where you rank or stand


    Sheila uses this with her children to speak about their grades and what it says about what they can change
    Separating these three things is helpful, since evaluation is very loud and people don’t often hear anything else

    4. Unpack the feedback

    Most of what we hear comes in vague labels.
    It requires you as a receiver to be a more active participant.

    5. Ask for just one thing

    “What’s one thing you see me doing (or failing to do) that holds me back?”

    6. Engage in small experiments

    “I don’t believe that receiving feedback well means that you have to take the feedback.” -Sheila Heen
    It’s hard to know if feedback is helpful until we try it out.

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