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I received an email in the Summer from a co-worker that he had a book he thought I should read…on feedback…since I’m kind of in a leadership position (I am??).

In the email, written in CAPS, he stated that I’m “really good at receiving feedback” (Since when?) I burst out laughing when I read that, and then I started to wonder what he meant and why he was yelling it at me? I guess he knows me well enough to know that I’d obsess about his motives and he was trying to reassure me so I wouldn’t be hurt. Or he sent the suggestion in an email right before he went on vacation because I needed the feedback and he was too frightened to deliver it in person. Or he was being sarcastic (because we’re never sarcastic with each other)!

In any event, I decided to waste spend my failing mental acuity reading the book rather than second-guessing his intention is asking me to read it in the first place. The book is called “Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (*even when it’s off-base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood) by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen.

Feedback can be positive or negative, verbal or non-verbal, direct or subtle, formal or informal. It can be anything that can be ranked, graded, or commented on. Feedback often raises more questions than provides answers, and how we receive it has a significant impact on our jobs, our relationships, our self-esteem…in some cases, our survival…

The term was coined during the Industrial Revolution as a mechanical term, but didn’t become a term used to talk about people until after WWII.

Generally the “powers that be” are trained to push people harder, but if the receiver isn’t willing to accept or make changes, the feedback offered is useless. The premise of the book is to help train receivers how to recognize and manage their own resistance and to pull insights from the giver in order for the receiver to learn and grow. Humans are wired to learn but we catch on early on that learning about ourselves is painful (kind of like exercise – good for us, but not always a hoot)! By learning how to ask the right questions and sift through the conversation, we can make informed decisions moving forward.

Parts of the book made a lot of sense, and other parts had a vast and complex array of buzzwords that read like a free magazine for the elderly: leaky tones, blind spots, and gap maps! I’d try using them but…

And they would be right!

The very next day, after writing this post (but being too tired to think of a brilliant ending so I didn’t post it), the same co-worker shouts from his office that he’s sending me a really good article..and that it in no way reflects his particular thoughts on how I’m doing. Am I so transparent that others can read my thoughts before they are even fully developed? Scary!

It was a good article: 13 Things Pastors Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew. And now I can start the book my lead guitarist gave me to read (with the same proviso that I’m already doing a lot of what they suggest). That’s a lot of feedback!  I think my next book should be “Where’s the Nearest Day Spa? Renewing the anxious heart”. What are your thoughts?