Kirkus Reviews QR Code


The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

by Sheila Heen ; Douglas Stone

Pub Date: March 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-670-01466-8
Publisher: Viking

A guide to taking the bad feedback with the good and learning from what we're told.

As Harvard Law School lecturers Stone and Heen (co-authors: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, 1999) note early on, there have been countless books on the management side of the feedback equation: how to be a good boss and effective leader, delivering feedback to employees that hits every nail on the head. While it’s often a shell game to drive employees to be better while also not burning them out, surprisingly little attention has been focused on being an effective recipient of feedback. Enter Stone and Heen with a well-rounded consideration of "the science and art of receiving feedback well.” As they write, both of those disciplines are required to receive feedback in productive ways—not only in the workplace, but in personal life as well. The authors examine therapy and neurology as two of the avenues through which we can locate and address the blocks to feedback; thoughts can cause emotions, emotions can cause thoughts, and feedback from someone in a position of authority can trigger the fight-or-flight response. For their purposes, the authors equate emotions with feelings, and one of the responses is to dismantle the distortions that come from the feedback filtering through our emotions. The applications of just this idea itself are wide-ranging, and the authors do an excellent job of constraining the applications to feedback usefulness while also exploring some of the other ways we can define what "feedback" consists of in our lives.

With a culture increasingly focused on the individual and the self, this book on developing the ability to accept and utilize the input of others constructively deserves a wide readership.