There is a difference between feedback and criticism, but for many of us, it can seem like the same thing, especially when we are not ready for nor have we asked to receive it. It becomes challenging to sift through the river of information colleagues, supervisors, family members, and well-meaning observers are sending our way. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen tackles these issues head-on with practical advice and a touch of humor. Their advice helps readers understand how to respond to feedback positively as a means to improve personal and professional relationships while gaining peace of mind and insight into our reactions and apprehensions.

At the center of this internal conflict is the realization that people want feedback, to learn and grow, and to be accepted and understood as they are, without criticism or the compulsion to lead or direct them to become someone other than who they are. The authors, drawing from experience in the public and private sector and insights rooted in neuroscience and psychology, unpack the reasons and solutions surrounding this dissonance while offering solid advice through helpful examples and practical tips on how to seek and receive feedback in a constructive and meaningful way.

What may sound like a simple premise for some readers is an unpacking of the complexities around the fact that most of us are better at giving feedback than receiving it. As a result, we may approach an earnest need for input from those around us with apprehension, especially when we might be considered the experts in the room. Even those who believe themselves skilled communicators may become sensitive or defensive when they are subject to encouraging or corrective advice.

Stone and Heen weave concepts and supporting examples while addressing the challenges of receiving feedback with insights about triggers related to hearing the truth, complex relationship dynamics, and personal identity. The authors then provide step-by-step instructions for navigating those tricky conversations while shifting your perspective from hearing what is wrong to asking for more information to increase understanding.

Feedback is essential for reflection and growth. It can be challenging to receive it when you are an independent practitioner spending most of your time in client-facing interactions without co-workers or supervisors to help let you know when things are going well or getting off-track. Join Gary Friedman and Kim Gordon on February 21st to learn how to build a collaborative and supportive peer group that provides feedback, camaraderie, and prompts for self-reflection.