Give and Take   1 comment

We have all been told many times that it is better to give than receive, but is that always true? John Gottman, a marriage researcher, has found that a person’s willingness to receive  and accept influence (feedback) from their spouse is a key predictor of a healthy, stable marriage. I can recall receiving professional feedback that  for some reason lived on in my mind for years.  For  parents it is frightening to realize that our children will learn  how to respond to correction and coaching by watching our responses to  the various forms of feedback we receive. All this would suggest that the art of receiving feedback might be more important that we think.

In their recent book “Thanks for the Feedback” Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone‘s research indicates that this is indeed true. At the recent the Global Leadership Summit Sheila taught on the subject. Her content was so compelling that I immediately purchased the book and I want to share some of the lessons I am learning as I read.

Whether it is  graded assignments at school, “likes” on our facebook posts  or simply a warm smile when enjoying a carefully prepared meal, feed back washes over us from all sides. Our reactions can range from joy to anger and there is much we can learn that will  help us both understand  our responses and handle them more constructively. Firstly feed back is received at the intersection of two of our most fundamental  needs,  our desire to learn and improve and our yearning to be accepted and loved as we are.  Many of our negative reactions are caused by a series of  what the authors call “triggers”. “Truth triggers”  are set off by a sense that the content of the feedback is somehow without substance while “Relationship Triggers” are a consequence of the type of relationship we have with the person offering the feed back. “Identity Triggers” result in us doubting who we are and shaking all our insecurities regardless of the content of the message. Without exception when these triggers are activated we are disabled from any constructive conversation about the content of the feedback itself.  However when we recognize their existence and are ready for them we have a much better chance of benefiting from what is said.   If we do indeed want to learn and improve there is of course much more to come so watch this space for more nuggets from this excellent book.

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One response to “Give and Take

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  1. Pingback: Give and Take Pt 2 | From the Zebra Bag

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