The Yes Blog

MGW #16 – “Drive Learning and Growth” with Elaine Lin Hering

GUEST: Elaine Lin Hering


Across industries, people say that feedback conversations are their most difficult conversations — both giving and receiving.


ONe the receiving end, it’s triggering. On the giving end, you may cause a trigger in the receiver, and you don’t know how it’s being received.


Three kinds of feedback:

  1. Positive feedback: appreciation
  2. Coaching: guidance for improved effectiveness
  3. Evaluation: Tracking against expectations


In order to learn and thrive and do good work, we need all three kinds of feedback.

Feedback is:

  • solicited and unsolicited
  • Verbal and non-verbal


When receiving feedback, people often feel judged.


When feedback is non-verbal, it’s especially hard to interpret.


Principles of Improvisation:


  • Everything is an offer.
  • We are meaning making machines.
  • Be specific.
  • Yes, And. “Tell me more about that.”


Skills for giving feedback is half the equation. Receiving feedback is an equally important set of skills.


We reject feedback for three reasons:

  1. Truth trigger: You’re wrong. You have incomplete data.
  2. Relationship trigger: I don’t like or trust you and your motivations.
  3. Identity trigger: That’s not me. That’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to face the possibility that this describes me or my behavior.


Build awareness as a feedback giver and receiver of the above triggers.


As a giver of feedback, notice and unpack the labels you’re using in giving feedback — and Be Specific. Specificity can help get around the truth trigger by helping people to be clear that we’re talking about the same thing.


As a receiver of feedback? take some time away and assess the feedback away from the stress of the confrontation.


Don’t use vague or uncertain terms that require interpretation, and that will inevitably get different interpretations from different people. “Be more man-like.”


Describe behavior and describe impact instead.


When receiving feedback, observe your first reaction, and then you can choose your response.


Human beings think in labels. It’s our job as givers (and even as receivers) to translate those labels into useful information.


How can you frame the feedback to be in the self-interest of the feedback receiver. How will it benefit that person to make the change you’re suggesting?


As a receiver, if 90% of the feedback someone gives you is off and irrelevant, focus on the 10% that can serve you.


Feedback is information exchange and it’s the fuel and driver for getting stuff done. So, ask yourself, how is feedback going on our team? How painful is it? How effective is it?

We need a mindset shift: Feedback isn’t the “F” word. It’s an opportunity for improvement and accelerated growth.


Neglecting to give feedback insulates people from the reality of their behavior, of the reality of the impact of that behavior. If you aren’t giving me feedback, you’re cheating me out of the opportunity to learn and grow.


There is no learning without feedback.


If you’re giving people feedback, and it’s not working. 1) Look at how you’re having the conversation. 2) Give meta-feedback. “We’ve had this conversation before. There’s a problem here with your making adjustments based on feedback.”


It’s critical to discuss the impact, the results, the consequences of behavior.


As feedback givers, we will never be free of bias. We can work to filter it out. And as feedback receivers, our job is to try to filter through that bias as well.


Your host on Mighty Good Work is Aaron Schmookler.


And, we’re The Yes Works — Helping to make work good for people, and make people good for work.


Resources mentioned in today’s show:

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well?, by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

Manager Tools

HR West, A Professional Conference for HR folks in Northern California
Check out this episode!

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