Learning Reflection – Council on Foundations’ Career Pathways Program

 In Community Vitality

Harvard Law School lecturers have written a book called Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Last week, I got to read it, thanks to an assignment from the Council on Foundations through the Career Pathways, a sector-wide leadership development program. Authors Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen run the Harvard Negotiation Project, and the book sets out to equip people to learn and grow in their personal and professional lives.

The book focused on receiving feedback (leave giving feedback for another day) and contained practical advice as well as frameworks for how to think about feedback in constructive ways. Here are 5 things I learned:

  1. We swim in an ocean of feedback. It’s common to think about feedback as something that happens at work; in the context of an annual review, or a 360 degree process. But it’s useful to broaden the definition; to consider feedback to be “any information you get about yourself. It’s how we learn about ourselves form our experiences and from other people–how we learn from life.”
  2. There are three kinds of feedback and we need each type. It’s important to discern whether the feedback you’re getting is appreciation, coaching, or evaluation. Each has a different purpose.
  3. See your blind spots. When feedback surprises us, it may very well be because there is a gap between how we see ourselves and how we come across to others. Acknowledge this, and aim to see things more clearly as they are.
  4. “Feedback can rock our sense of self.” Whether you respond to this challenge to identity with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset will make all the difference. Stone & Heen refer to this phenomenon as living in the “testing room” versus living in the “learning room.”
  5. Feedback starts today. Show feedback-seeing behaviors, and make it actionable by starting with the question “What’s one thing you see me doing that gets in my own way?”
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