I just finished listening to the audiobook of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. I thought they did a great job reading it. It was engaging and kept my attention through the information and the voices.
While it would have been more useful when I was a manager, the elements apply to many aspects of life—including working with friends and family as well as colleagues. I also liked that it had a practical, actionable side. The tools they offer are useful and I do recommend the book!
Giving feedback is pretty much at the heart of what I do. And over the years I’ve had to learn to temper the ways to give feedback/critique that will let the concerns reach the author as well as stay true to my own style. After working with authors over many books I discover the shortcuts of how they prefer to hear the news—by phone first, by a short email, by detailed notes—and how they want to address the work.
When starting a project with new authors, it’s important to lay out the options and make it clear what the goals are. And even though I do my best, it's true that sometimes the deliverable doesn’t match the expectations of the author. Then further negotiation might begin as I try to understand what the author really wanted.
The heart of Thanks is all about communication and the responsibility of both parties to ask questions and make sure you’re listening to (even more than just “hearing”) both sides of the discussion. It explains coaching, evaluation, and appreciation; how we need all three elements at various times; and the importance of understanding which is being delivered; along with which you are hearing. Sending/hearing mixed signals won’t help you improve.
Making your end goals clear (lining out the responsibilities of the editor), delivering on those goals, and then talking through any questions or concerns is an essential rhythm in the process of a critique. And the fun part can be the discussion afterward!
This is a book I’m going to have to listen to again (actually, for me it might have been better in print for notes, but a second listen might help things sink in), and I’m going to look for the Difficult Conversations, which the authors also wrote.
I hope others get a chance to read/listen to this. And I do hope that the next time I receive feedback I take the time to understand the intent of the giver--and think about what is useful to me.
Now on to the next title!