Organization & Leadership Consulting

Thanks for the Feedback. . . I Think?


Thanks for the Feedback…I Think

Here she comes. You’ve seen that look in her eyes before and you know what that means – time for the “talk”.  How do we get over the proverbial uncomfortable conversation, both as the one giving the talk and the one receiving it? How do we approach it … and end it?

Whether you are the “giver” and “receiver” of “negative” feedback, the situation can be an uncomfortable one. Some of us may delight in the “negative” feedback process, but most of us are not especially fond of it. Avoiding it can be disastrous to the culture of your organization on so many levels.

In the wonderful book, Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, authors Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen help us first to identify our “triggers” that can help us be better at both giving AND receiving feedback.

They suggest that there are three triggers that block feedback. These triggers cause us distortion in our thinking and prevent us from learning and growing. Instead of growing from the feedback, we revert to defending, attacking, and withdrawing…or some of us simply pretend that none of this exists.

Here are the triggers (which one are you?):

1.    Truth Trigger – this trigger is the challenge to see the truth in what was said to us. The feedback itself is somehow unhelpful or untrue. We feel wronged and indignant…”Who was she talking about? I’m not like that!”

2.   Relationship Trigger – this trigger is the challenge for us to see past the “giver”. We shift the focus off of the feedback and onto the person giving the feedback…”After all I’ve done for you and this is the treatment I get!” sound familiar?

3.   Identity Trigger – this trigger is the challenge to our identity. The focus is on the story we tell about ourselves, not on the feedback or the person giving the feedback. When feedback comes in, the story comes under attack.

Stay tuned for further steps on how to give and receive feedback that will help grow your employees and create a healthy and sustainable culture.


Stone, Douglas, and Sheila Heen. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It Is Off Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood). New York, New York: Viking, 2014.


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