So I finished reading this really interesting book last week titled, Thanks for the Feedback , by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, and it opened up my eyes to how truly difficult it sometimes is to not only hear and process quality feedback, but how to give it in a manner that will be well received by others. I have to say that I found out a lot about myself while reading this book, as I began reflecting back on how I personally and typically respond to feedback from colleagues, parents, friends, and students.
I walked away with some new skills and strategies that will allow me to really hear what’s being said…even if it’s delivered in a way that makes it easy to dismiss, or puts me quickly on the defensive like honest and quality feedback can often do. I also came away with a better understanding of how as a leader, I can deliver quality feedback in a way which will allow people to really hear what’s trying to be communicated, with the right mindset, and in a way that honours their intent, their hard work, and their intrinsic desire to get better.
You see, giving honest and at times difficult feedback to people is really hard, and receiving it well can be even harder. We’re always conscious of a person’s feelings as well as their positive intent, which is why it becomes so tricky to say what needs to be said without negatively impacting a relationship. Most of us, including me, are really good at giving positive feedback to people, because it strengthens relationships, it makes people like you, and it doesn’t disrupt the routines or approaches that we have to our lives…essentially, it’s easy. There comes a time however, when the trust and the strong relationships have been developed, when easy doesn’t cut it anymore, and when we begin missing out on opportunities for real growth and improvement as people and as educators.
The really interesting and important thing about feedback that I have come to understand, is that it’s really not about the person delivering it…it’s about you. It’s about how open you are to learning, and how interested you are in growing. It’s about developing a skill set that will allow you to sift through much of what’s being said to find the core of it, and it’s about managing the emotions that get stirred up when the feedback is delivered in a way that is less than ideal. Like Stone and Heen suggest in the book, we all have triggers, and blind spots, and distorted views of how we operate, so learning how to recognize these and navigate successfully through them is the key to learning and growing and receiving well…and delivering successfully.
Giving and receiving quality feedback might just be the most important and crucial thing that we can do for each other, but it’s also the most challenging in many respects. It takes practice, it takes trust, it takes an open mind, and it takes a willingness to learn and improve. I’m asking you all this week to think about how you tend to react to feedback, particularly if it’s hard to hear, and to think about how you give feedback to others…what’s your approach, and does it need some refinement or some tweaks? I’m excited to put some of this book into practice, and my hope is that it allows all of us to become better for each other and for our students. I would recommend this book as an important read for all of you so if you get a chance, pick it up. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Articles About the Importance of Quality Feedback –
Related TED Talk – Teachers Need Real Feedback (Bill Gates)
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