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Thanks For The Feedback Summary And Key Lessons

“Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well” is a book written by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, both of whom were a part of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and in this work, they delve into the challenges and nuances of receiving feedback effectively.

The book delves into the art and science of receiving feedback effectively. The authors argue that while giving feedback is a skill, so is receiving it. By understanding our reactions and biases, we can learn more from feedback, manage relationships better, and grow personally and professionally.

Thanks For The Feedback Full Summary

The book starts by addressing a universal truth: Everyone, at some point in their life, has received feedback that was hard to accept. 

Whether in our personal or professional lives, feedback is inevitable. However, not all feedback is easy to digest, and our reactions to it can range from defensive to demotivated. 

Stone and Heen argue that while giving feedback is a skill, receiving it is an art that requires understanding and practice.

Three Types of Feedback:

  1. Appreciation: This type of feedback is about acknowledgment and validation. It’s the pat on the back, the thank you, or the acknowledgment of effort.
  2. Coaching: This is advice or guidance aimed at helping the recipient improve, learn, and grow. It can come in the form of suggestions, tips, or constructive criticism.
  3. Evaluation: This feedback ranks or rates you against a set of standards or expectations. It often decides promotions, raises, or admissions.

The authors emphasize the importance of distinguishing between these types of feedback, as confusion can lead to misunderstandings and negative reactions.

Challenges in Receiving Feedback:

The book discusses common challenges people face when receiving feedback:

  • Identity Crisis: Feedback can sometimes feel like an attack on our identity or self-worth, leading to defensive reactions.
  • Wrong Timing: Sometimes, feedback comes at a time when we’re not mentally or emotionally prepared to receive it.
  • Distrust in the Giver: If the feedback giver isn’t trusted or respected, the feedback might be discounted or ignored.


Stone and Heen identify two main triggers that can hinder our ability to accept feedback:

  1. Truth Triggers: These are activated when we perceive the feedback as wrong or off-base.
  2. Relationship Triggers: These are activated based on our relationship with the feedback giver. Past experiences, power dynamics, and the nature of the relationship can all impact how we receive feedback.

Tools and Techniques:

The latter part of the book provides readers with tools and techniques to receive feedback more effectively:

  • Separate the Feedback from the Giver: Even if you don’t respect the person giving feedback, the feedback itself might still be valuable.
  • Ask for Clarification: If feedback is unclear, seek specifics to understand it better.
  • Reflect: Before reacting defensively, take a moment to reflect on the feedback and its validity.
  • Feedback Conversations: Engage in a two-way dialogue about the feedback, understanding the giver’s perspective, and sharing your own.

The book concludes with the idea that while feedback can be challenging, it’s also an opportunity for growth. By understanding our triggers, reactions, and emotions around feedback, we can become better at receiving it, leading to personal and professional development.

thanks for your feedback summary

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Key Lessons

1. The Trinity of Feedback Types – Understand to Unravel

Feedback isn’t a one-size-fits-all notion. 

It’s a combination of three distinct threads: Appreciation, Coaching, and Evaluation

Imagine that you have just finished a grueling project and what you crave is a pat on the back (Appreciation). Instead, your boss offers pointers for improvement (Coaching) or even worse, gives a lukewarm assessment of your performance (Evaluation)

Feels like a punch in the gut, right? 

Recognizing these three feedback types is the key to understanding the intention behind feedback and our reactions to it.

Now while all three feedback types are crucial, they serve different needs. 

Appreciation motivates, Coaching helps us grow, and Evaluation shows us where we stand. 

Like a seasoned chef, learn to discern the flavors of feedback and savor each for its unique taste and purpose.

So, the next time you receive feedback, pause and identify its type. 

Ask yourself: Is this a nod of acknowledgment, a lesson for improvement, or a grade on my performance? 

Adjust your expectations and reactions accordingly.

2. Navigating the Emotional Minefield – Feedback is Not a Personal Attack

Feedback can sometimes shake our very core, making us question our abilities and self-worth. 

Imagine a tree during a storm; while its branches might sway and leaves may rustle, its roots remain firm. Think of feedback as that storm, and your core identity as the tree’s roots. 

Feedback might ruffle your leaves, but it shouldn’t uproot you as it is a reflection of the giver’s perspective, colored by their experiences, biases, and expectations. 

It’s like looking at a painting from a certain angle; everyone sees something different. Learn to separate the feedback from your identity and view it as a single perspective, not an absolute truth.

Hence, when faced with challenging feedback, visualize it as a storm passing by. Let the winds of criticism sway you but remain rooted in your self-worth and capabilities.

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3. Mastering the Art of Feedback Conversations – It’s a Two-Way Street

Feedback isn’t a monologue; it’s a tango of perspectives, emotions, and intentions. 

Instead of passively receiving feedback, engage in a dynamic dance of conversation. 

Try to ask questions, seek clarifications, and share your feelings.

Now understanding the giver’s intentions can transform a bitter feedback potion into an elixir of growth. 

Maybe your colleague’s harsh words stem from their passion for the project, or your friend’s unsolicited advice comes from a place of concern. 

By stepping into their shoes, you not only gain clarity but also build stronger, empathetic connections.

To amplify this statement, make feedback conversations a collaborative endeavor. 

Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. The next time you receive feedback, initiate a dialogue, ask open-ended questions, and immerse yourself in the dance of perspectives.

Final Thoughts

“Thanks for the Feedback” offers a refreshing perspective by focusing on the receiver’s role in the feedback process. While much has been written about how to give effective feedback, Stone and Heen shed light on how we can become better at receiving, processing, and using feedback to our advantage. 

Their insights are particularly relevant in today’s interconnected world, where feedback comes at us from multiple directions. The tools and strategies presented in the book can empower individuals to turn feedback, even when it’s tough to hear, into a valuable resource for growth.

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