2 x NY Times Best Selling Co-Author of "Thanks for the Feedback" & "Difficult Conversations".
Welcome to Talent Equals! We are starting our new series with an amazing guest – Sheila Heen, Author of 2 New York Times best sellers “Thanks for the Feedback” and “Difficult Conversations”. Sheila is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School and has spent the last twenty years with the Harvard Negotiation Project, developing negotiation theory and practice.
Receiving feedback is absolutely essential if we are to truly progress and develop in our careers. As a subject that is of particular interest to me, we focused our conversation on receiving feedback, why sometimes this is difficult and the different kinds of feedback which we can learn from.
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Sheila’s Recommended Reads
William Laitinen: Welcome to the show. Welcome to the new show, Talent Equals. New show, same music. So, I hope you don’t mind that. But frankly, we tried to find new music. But I couldn’t decide on anything that I preferred more than the current music for the podcast. So here we are. new theme, same music. I am very happy to be bringing you today’s guest, Sheila Heen. And I think Sheila’s expertise fits so well with what we’re trying to do with Talent Equals. And as a community, I dare say we are all interested in the idea of progressing and developing. And if you’re going to get good at developing, you got to get good at getting feedback on board, which is the very tool through which we can understand where we’re falling short, or where we’re doing well, and then calibrate and improve. And Sheila, well, Sheila is a deep thinker on this topic. And she has with her co-author, Douglas Stone, created a fantastic book in “Thanks for the feedback: the science and art of receiving feedback”. Well, Sheila is actually a bit of a unique individual, because she’s not only a very sharp and bright intellectual on this topic. But she’s also a great teacher. And that combination, I think makes her a very valuable guest to have on and for us all to listen to. I’m certain as you listen, you’ll hear that and hear how just generally interesting Sheila is and how much she’s interested in other people. There’s a mental model through the book that I would have you think about, we’re going to focus on the title of the show being called “Thanks for the feedback”. But I’m going to specifically point you at this mental model around the three types of feedback, evaluation, coaching, and appreciation. That model itself was one of the big changes for me and understanding of what types of feedback come, come at us. And we sort of discussed that a little bit. And it’s one of the models that Sheila introduces in the book, and we talked a little bit about in the episode as well. So yeah, I’m thrilled to be bringing you this conversation with Sheila Heen, as the first episode under Talent Equals. And then I’m going to give you one of the I daresay at present, it’s it could be torture for you all out there. I’m actually going to read a poem, because as part of the episode, we actually talked about my own fear of writing poetry, which I am doing, and getting feedback on that poetry. And it became an interesting little conversation for us. And so, I wanted to sort of put myself out there a little bit and do this because I feel like if we aren’t prepared to go to a place where we feel a little bit vulnerable and a little bit risky, and open ourselves up to feedback, both positive and negative, well, then I’d be a hypocrite. So, I’m going to do a short poem on feedback. And well, I hope you enjoy it. But if you don’t, you can give me some evaluation, coaching or appreciation. So, without further ado, I’m going to give you Sheila Heen and a short poem.
William Laitinen : Feedback. Feedback is the failure that brings a chance for change. Feedback is the stinging rebuke of an idea gone South. Feedback is the digits that flash with a merciless truth of your midnight snack. Feedback is the heart beating victory, birthed in a moment of joy, which was carried through months misery. Feedback is the clapping hands. given a chance when you said yes to that dream. Feedback the karmic thread reminding you of the integrity you earned in 1000 lives gone before. Feedback is the lover who tells you that your sun has finally set. Feedback are the knees and the back that ache with the years finally speaking. Feedback is the warmth of the sun across your face. on a walk you never wanted. Feedback. The crisply stacked pages of the story you promised you would steal from comfort. Feedback, the bright red bike whose hearts you bought, with 100 days of leaf blown gardens. Feedback, the smile of your child that tells you all as well in the world. Feedback. Life is feedback.
William Laitinen : Hello, Sheila Heen, it’s wonderful to have you on the podcast.
Sheila Heen : I am totally delighted to be here.
William Laitinen : Fantastic. Well, Sheila, for those of listeners who don’t know you, you’re a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, part of the Harvard negotiation project, you were co-authored with Douglas stone on two fantastic books, I must say, difficult conversations. And thanks for the feedback. You’re a founder of a consulting firm triad consulting mother to three children. And according to your co-author, Douglas stone, you’re amazing at drawing characters that while looking nothing like the person do look like the soul of that person.
Sheila Heen : That’s very kind feedback from our friend, Doug. Yes. A little bit double edge. But yes. leaning toward you with all my free time.
William Laitinen : Yeah, right. Exactly. Exactly. Wonderful. And I must say, again, thank you so much for coming on the show. With this day, I’ve been very much looking forward to talking with you. And I am something of a fervent evangelist for your book. Thanks for the feedback, given its kind of one of the close things within my wheelhouse as a headhunter. So very much looking forward to sort of getting into talking with you about you know, your experiences and talk to you about thanks for the feedback and your experience around feedback. But before we do all of that, I mean, I gave a bit of a background to you, but I’d love to hear your origin story. So yeah, maybe you can tell me how you came to be a lecturer in law, how you been drawn to negotiation and an interest in feedback conversations?
Sheila Heen : Yeah, that’s a great question. Well, let’s see. I mean, I was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up in Iowa and Nebraska, we moved to Nebraska when I was eight. My dad’s a lawyer. My mom’s a nurse. And I’ve got two younger sisters. And I am probably looking back, I would say that my, my experience in negotiation goes way back to childhood, because when you wanted something you negotiated for it at my house. One of the examples I sometimes give my students has to do with when I, you know, wanted a horse and my father said, “Save your pennies.” So, I said, “Well, if I do, can I get a horse?” And he said, “Sure”. I was probably a little bit strategic and approaching him when he was distracted and not really paying attention to the conversation, so I can extract a commitment. As kids, kids are the best negotiators in the world, as I’m sure you know.
William Laitinen : Oh, yes.
Sheila Heen : As well, William. I mean, it’s interesting to me, that’s, that’s one of the first questions that we ask our students, is to introduce themselves with a self-portrait of themselves as a kid negotiator. Whatever age comes to mind, what did you learn about how to get what you want as a kid? So, it might be because of that early childhood experience for me. I ended up because of a bad breakup, actually, my high school boyfriend dumped me, and I didn’t want to spend the summer, sort of being sad and miserable, I wanted to get out of town. And so, I was getting these… how honest and how detailed do you want this William?
William Laitinen : I love it. I love it. I love this because it’s so true. We have these, kind of, really strange origins of where things come from, from us. You know, you know, I often think that’s, that’s so cool, though. So please, yeah, share with us. That’s absolutely brilliant.
Sheila Heen : Well, it’s, yeah, because I was getting these, I had done well enough on the PSAT, which is an exam that American kids take as juniors in high school that I was getting catalogs. And one of the catalogs I got was from Harvard summer school, and they run a summer program for high school students, and I thought, fantastic. This guy just dumped me. I’m totally devastated. I’m just going to get out of town for the summer and go do something else. But we didn’t have the money for me to go do that. I was simultaneously, you know, a three-season athlete in high school and had less and less time for horseback riding and taking care of my horse because I had been riding competitively since I was 10 or 11 and bought my first horse.
William Laitinen : This is the horse you managed to get through that…
Sheila Heen : Yeah, yeah, so I, I sold my horse and the horse trailer, and I use that money to pay for summer school at Harvard. So, I came to Cambridge, in 1985, now we’re pegging how old I am your listeners who can do math, I hope there aren’t too many of those.
William Laitinen : It was a good year 1985, a good year.
Sheila Heen : And then I met all of these kids who kind of knew what was up, right? So, they’re like, well, if you haven’t taken achievement tests yet, and you haven’t done this, and that, then, you know, they really understood the whole getting into college thing in a way that my high school and my community was not focused on, like, almost everybody just went to the University of Nebraska downtown. And so, I think I opened my eyes in two other opportunities, and I came home from that summer, and walked into my guidance counselor’s office and said, you know, “I need to, I need to sign up to take something called the SAT, what is that?” And she said, “Oh, honey, you don’t need to take the SAT. You know, you’re already taking the ACT, you only have to take the SAT, if you’re not going to go to university.” And I said, “Well, I’d like to sign up for the SAT. Let me reiterate.” So, nobody around me was asking any of those questions or, or having those conversations. And so, then I deserve a scattershot application to college, with my heart set on Stanford. I didn’t get in. And at the last minute ended up applying in June, after I graduated from high school, actually, I applied to Occidental College. And, you know, totally out of the cycle, they accepted me and gave me enough money that I could figure out how to pay for it. And so, I ended up in Los Angeles for college, walked on campus the first day having never been there, never visited, and just totally loved it. I really thrived there. So four years in California, and you know, working three jobs to pay for it, myself mostly, meant that, and by the way, I should maybe say that when I was 16, my dad left his law firm, and went out on his own, and that, I think, reflects how risk tolerant he is, and I think he taught me to be very risk tolerant, just by example, but it also meant that we just didn’t have very much money, right? Clients, he does deals and those take a couple of years to come to fruition, if they do come to fruition. And
William Laitinen : Know that feeling.
Sheila Heen : Yeah, so yeah, exactly. So, so it just was a dicey time for me to be then going to college and needing to pay for it. But I think actually working my way through school was a really good experience for me, because I was certainly very invested in making the most of it. And then I came to law school after that, partly like many people, because I didn’t really know what else to do. But I didn’t, I wanted to go to Yale, and I didn’t get in. And I had applied to Harvard on a whim. Actually, on the very last day, not really sure I wanted to go there. But my, my counselor, my college advisor said to me, you know, they have this whole negotiation thing. And my instinct is, that might be it a really interesting fit for you. And so, I ended up again, not thinking that was where I wanted to go and ending up at Harvard, and during my first year, took the negotiation course, and then I just fell in love. I just thought, like, “Oh, I want to learn about this, and I have a feeling it’s gonna take me my entire life.” So that was a very abrupt end to a very long story, I realize.
William Laitinen : Sheila, that was a fantastic origin story. Thank you. I mean, I, I hear in that there was this young girl who recognized what she wanted. She wanted a horse, which many do, and my four-year-old daughter is saying exactly the same thing to me now. So, I really have to be careful what I promise as she gets a little bit older.
Sheila Heen : Oh, yes, yes, you’re on, you’re on alert.
William Laitinen : And that that was sort of led you in some roundabout ways to sort of recognize the power of negotiation as kids teach us that and you’re right, they really teach us the things that we do. And they pick up on those and they react to them so well. And they’re incredibly attentive. And then you took, you took all of that and you sort of embarked upon a bit of an exploration of, you know, what you wanted next in your life and that and turns, turns out that a counsellor actually knew what they were talking about when they said you’d be good for negotiation. And that kind of, you know, kind of wrapping it all up lead you through a weaving kind of road to Harvard and discovering the negotiation work that they’re doing there. So, so that’s, that’s kind of an interesting progression. Because I often think about the same when I’m when I’m advising people in their careers, certainly early on the kids I’m working with early on. I often say that, you know, look, “Don’t, don’t worry about it too much, just be explorative. And find out what kind of lights you up a little bit early on.” And they kind of look at you like, “I don’t know what that means.” And you’re like, “Okay, well, don’t have so much pressure on yourself. Just go and explore the world and react to the things that you feel good about. And, and when you do find something that feels good, then you can sort of kind of explore that further.”
William Laitinen : So, Sheila, yeah, um, as I mentioned, you wrote this awesome book with Douglas, I’ve got to say, thank you, thank you for the feedback book. There we go. This has been, you know, really great for me, because I’m a big fan of mental models and applying mental models to how we operate. Because once you can understand how things are working, I feel you can really experiment and play with them with confidence. So yeah, I’m keen to hear just to run through some of the fundamentals that you outlined in feedback. And “Thank you for the Feedback”. So maybe we start with a big one. Why is feedback so important?
Sheila Heen : Oh, golly, well, um, I think that when people hear the word feedback, what we immediately think about are performance appraisals, performance reviews, very formal moments of feedback, grades, getting hired or not hired for the job. If we’re gonna go into headhunting being proposed to or not, is feedback, right? Like, am I just not good enough for you? Is this relationship, not where we thought it was? That’s feedback. So, so you can hear me going from the examples that we all think about, into examples that like, Oh, right, I guess that is feedback. And I think feedback is all around us. So, it’s sometimes formal, but more often, it’s informal, it can be spoken, but it’s often unspoken and indirect, rather than direct. So, you know, I have clues all around me about the way I’m impacting other people in my world, and what they wish I would do differently, or that I’m doing well, and the question is just am I paying attention? So, I think that feedback is, it’s partly, of course, how we adapt to learn, how do we work best together? How do we collaborate? How do we solve a problem where we’re frustrating each other? How do we change how we’re working together to accommodate a new circumstance? Like a I don’t know, pandemic? And feedback is really the engine for learning and change and pursuing excellence, and understanding how do we fit in the market? Why? Why is this customer buying the ring or not buying the ring from me, I’m, if I’m paying attention, I’m learning that often implicitly, rather than explicitly but you can actually ask some questions? So, for me, feedback, is sort of my relationship with the world and the world’s relationship with me. And it’s also in an organization how we can learn and adapt quickly together and pursue excellence and always do it a little bit better tomorrow than we did it yesterday. And yet, we get very little, we get very little training around it, we have very little vocabulary around it, other than a focus on how to give it clearly. And how to say thank you, even though what you’re saying is ridiculous and wrong, and misunderstands me entirely, and this isn’t my fault. In fact, you’re the one who makes it hard to perform around here. So that I think is, is part of what drew us to the topic.
William Laitinen : Yeah, I, I certainly heard in that there’s this way that it helps you, acts like a compass. It’s a calibration process for the journey through life, right, this, I loved hearing the idea that you’re, you’re seeing it everywhere, and it’s implicit, and it’s explicit. Yet, we just we never get any training about it. You’re absolutely right. I, I can’t think when in my life through my schooling, or even in professional education, where I really got the opportunity to really get deep into feedback. So, I find that, I find that fascinating, really, that we don’t spend more time there. Because actually, I’ll tell you from people I speak to so much in my own training program, they’re always asking me, how do I get better at feedback? How do I get better feedback? Because it’s just one of the pain points people are experiencing. So, we’ve got to clear a sense.
Sheila Heen : Well, and, and when, let me ask you when they say how do I get better at feedback? What do they mean? Do they mean giving it or do they mean? Getting it?
William Laitinen : Hmm, well, I think it’s probably both. You’re right. I found that interesting about your book actually just answering and roundabout way that you focused on receiving feedback. I think a lot of people feel giving feedback is very uncomfortable. Right? So
Sheila Heen : Yes
William Laitinen : Certainly, from maybe if you’re in a in a professional situation where giving feedback is so risky in so many ways. So, you want to give feedback to someone, but it may destroy your relationship with them, it may destroy friendship, it may make the working relationship difficult, but you’re seeing a problem. So, I think often people are focusing in on that way that like, how do I give better feedback?
Sheila Heen : Totally. How do I give the feedback, so the other person will just take it not be upset with me?
William Laitinen : Yes.
Sheila Heen : And I think that is the pain point. In other words, this was one of the dilemmas for us in writing the book, which is you want to when you’re writing a book or working on a project that you hope will become a book you’re really trying to connect with and speak to someone’s felt problem. Meaning, what do I think my problem is? And for most people, the felt problem is the problem of giving. Because I do walk around feeling all of the feedback, I’m not giving you because you’re driving me crazy. But I tried giving it to you last year, and you didn’t take it anyway, and then it was awkward for six months.
William Laitinen : Yeah.
Sheila Heen : So, like, I don’t want to do that again. And so, we’re very aware of the feedback that we are holding back from the other people in our lives, our professional lives and our personal lives. We’re often less aware of the feedback they’re holding back from us.
William Laitinen : Yeah.
Sheila Heen : So, except for people who are very sensitive we’re, there is a felt problem with like, I, I’m getting this horrible, scathing feedback. Or we many of us have someone in our lives who is an endless source of judgment and, and critique. That’s definitely a felt problem. But that’s the way that we usually experience it. Or maybe we say, Gosh, I wish I got more feedback around here. There’s just sort of a vacuum. And I need a great mentor. But I can’t seem to find the right person who’s willing to invest in me, are my bosses too busy to give me meaningful feedback. Those are the felt points for receiving. And I think that that’s, I think that clear pain point around giving is why almost everything out there in the world is about how to give feedback. And, you know, we did that work too for many years, we were teaching “Difficult Conversations” and, and a big category of difficult conversations is feedback conversations. And so, we did what everybody does, which is help teach leaders how to give feedback more skillfully and clearly and more often. But eventually, you know, after maybe 10 years of that, we noticed that it wasn’t actually fixing the problem. And it was like, “Huh, what’s not working here?” Because we’ve taught them how to give feedback and where we come back and ask, how’s it going? And they say, “Yeah, those feedback courses are still not, not working. Like I tried it and they didn’t listen, or, or they got totally demotivated” or, you know, and so we thought, “Well, okay, what are we missing?” And, and it was finally this moment where we’re like, “Oh, wait a minute, we’re only focused on half of the equation”. The other half of the equation is the struggle to receive feedback for all of us, from other people in our lives. And maybe that’s the key, maybe the key is understanding what makes it so hard for everybody, all of us to receive feedback. And if we can figure that out, and if you can get better at receiving feedback, then you automatically become a better giver. Because you just have a sense of what’s so hard about it. And you can have richer feedback conversations in both directions. And also, be very aware that almost any feedback conversation in, in almost a feedback conversation, I’m going to be both a giver and a receiver to some extent, as we pull apart, you know, what’s going on what’s in the way and how do we help fix this? Whatever we think the problem is, I think the problem is you of course, but bizarrely, you see the bigger problem is me. So, it’s gonna be a two-way conversation just trying to understand and change something that isn’t working.
William Laitinen : I love that. I’m, I must say, this idea of recognizing that the real value is in being good at receiving feedback because I suppose, you know, interesting I kind of felt that as I was reading through your, your book, and you had focus is that the title is, it was very easy to miss by the way as I did this, the science and art of receiving feedback well, because I think I went into this book with like, “Alright, I’m gonna be really good at like, thanks for the feedback, figuring out how to give amazing feedback, right?” Because that’s where I do most of my work is, you haven’t got the job, you know, and this is why, all of that sort of good stuff. But then yeah, it was focused on receiving. I was like, of course, of course, because every amazing moment in my life is where somebody tells me, I’m doing something I can how to improve it, like, Okay, well, you did that a bit crap, right? Try doing it this way. Yeah. Next time. Have you thought about, you know, when you’re doing maybe like a martial art, put your foot in this position? You know, or if you’re coaching and someone says…
Sheila Heen : Yeah
William Laitinen : You know, stop, stop doing that really weird thing you do, every time somebody is talking, you know, your face. Okay, I didn’t I did that. And so, these, these are moments where you really are able to go ah and progress and move to a next stage. And so, I love that you focus there. So, in the book, you actually, and this kind of connects that you did mention about the learning mindset as being key to happiness and being good at receiving feedback. So yeah, well, what do you mean by the learning mindset, and why is it important?
Sheila Heen : Well, so this is drawing from Carol Dweck ‘s work on fixed mindset and learning mindset. So, Carol is out at Stanford, and she’s written some fantastic books. And the core of it is that we can hold our, who we are as either fixed or changing, growing over time. So often, for many of us, the instinct is, is very black and white. And we actually talk about this a little bit in “Difficult Conversations” in the chapter on identity, that part of the reason why conversations can be difficult is because we hear it as saying something, the situation is saying something about us, but the other person is saying something about us. You know, I’m either competent or incompetent, loyal, or disloyal, a good person or a bad person, worthy of love, or maybe not. And that we hold those things as very black and white when the truth is always more complex than that. So, what Carol Dweck would say that, you know, in a fixed mindset, you’re hearing feedback, we would say as verdict about who you are, you, you, you’re born, you’re as smart as you’re going to be or not going to be, those things are pretty fixed those traits, they’re not necessarily going to change much. So, every test, every job interview, every promotion or not, is telling you whether you measure up, whether you’re smart enough, competent enough, talented enough, whatever. And that that makes feedback really fraught. Because who I am, is, is on the line every single time. A growth mindset says well look, if we think about the things that really matter in life, leadership, you know, applying yourself, hard work, collaboration with others, etc. Those are all things that you can get better at. And so, feedback is just telling me how I’m doing right now. And what’s the next thing maybe I should work on, that I could get better at. And so, in that case, feedback is actually valuable information about what to work on next. And it’s, you know, a snapshot of a moment in time, in an arc of learning in our lives. And that lowers the stakes on it being a judgment of who I am, or ever will be. And instead, it’s not that it’s not painful, actually, but it it’s aligned with sort of the story in my head about who I am and where I’m going.
William Laitinen : That’s beautiful. I it’s such a subtle difference between, you know, seeing it as a threat or seeing it as a present, you know, that…
Sheila Heen : A gift, yeah.
William Laitinen : Yeah, I, I hear that. It’s such a thing about growth set mindset and fixed mindset. And I, I sort of reflect on that, in, in myself and I, when I hear that I, I recognize actually, that may have been one of the things when you’re young, and you’re in an industry that you don’t have fear of what people think of you, so that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to grow. It’s okay to change. And as we get older, we get into these positions where we have to have, you know, be an authoritative figure we have to be right; we can’t be wrong. The feedback, like you’ve said, read this challenge at the center of who we are, if you’ve got the wrong attitude towards what that could mean for you, at all stages, we get the chance to grow. It’s actually my birthday tomorrow. And someone said to me, so how you doing with your birthday? And like, “Yeah, I’m alright. And it’s all right.” Whether it’s, I’m 39, “is it the big 4 0’s on the horizon, right?” right. “Yeah, yeah”, “And how’d you feel about that?”, “Well, I’m actually okay with that.” Because I think 30 is one of the most fraught years actually, they’re like a year where you, people will have these expectations that you’re getting older, that you’re supposed to know stuff, you’re inside, you don’t feel like you know anything. And so, you’re getting all this feedback from the outside world that yeah, you should know what you’re doing, you should have a career, you should know your direction. But inside you’re thinking, “Oh, my God, I don’t know what I am, I still don’t know where I am, what I’m good at.” And so, there’s this, I can really hear that negotiation process at specific times of life, and certainly was for me in my 30s, anyway.
Sheila Heen : So, this is fascinating, because it sounds like, the sense is, oh, I’m supposed to be fully baked here any moment. Like, I’m supposed to have sort of arrived at some place where I’m know you know, as good as I’m going to be or, or, somehow, I’m finished, which of course we don’t arrive at. But what’s, what’s fascinating to me is that we’re in your 20s, you felt more open, maybe to feedback, because you didn’t think you were supposed to be good at it. And it’s fascinating, because I totally get that. And then I also sometimes hear and experience and observe the flip side of that, which is and maybe this is because I’m, I’m a decade ahead of you. But I see I think back on my own 20s. And I watch my law students, right, and young professionals who are in their 20s. And the wrap on millennials is that they’re, you know, so sensitive to feedback, and they only want appreciation and praise, and they overreact to any negative feedback. And it maybe it’s just the population that I deal with, who tend to have atrophied failure muscles, because they haven’t failed at very much. But I do think actually, when I was young anyway, as a professional, I was more sensitive to feedback, because I was asking myself like, am I up to this? Am I good enough for this? Am I going to succeed at this, and any mistake I made was a huge deal? And was maybe in indicative of the thought that I should just quit and move home with my parents and give up on this whole professional thing. And, and now, with the arc of a couple more decades of experience, I’ve made enough mistakes, that I’m probably actually less sensitive about it. And I’m like, Oh, yeah, that was that’s just the latest mistake. Okay, we’ll write that one down on the very long list of things that I should pay attention to and learn something from. And it doesn’t mean that I am not, you know, cut out to be in this field. It just means I’ve still got stuff to work on, which obviously, that’s normal. So, so it’s really interesting to hear you describe going from maybe more open and less sensitive to more sensitive as, as we think we’re supposed to have expertise.
William Laitinen : Yeah. I think…
Sheila Heen : Because I think I, I watched myself maybe have the opposite. I think I’m more open and less reactive.
William Laitinen : Yeah, that’s, isn’t it? And maybe that’s the reason giving and receiving feedback is so difficult, because we’ll work entirely different, aren’t we, in where we are in the process? And I’ve certainly come to realize that there’s so much value in risk, being a humble person and just accepting, getting really great people around you and then listening attentively to what they’re going to say to you.
William Laitinen : So, you’re sitting there, you’re getting feedback, how do you manage the problem of sort of rating the feedback that you’re receiving? What is one of the things you recommend?
Sheila Heen : Yeah, so, so the, the observation is that if you, there’s some evidence that if you look at people’s sensitivity to feedback, and what that means is how upset do you get when you get negative feedback? And how long does it take to recover? Or how happy does positive feedback make you? And how long do you sustain that sort of positive bounce, emotionally, and that individuals can vary up to 3,000%. And now we’re all on teams together and trying to offer each other feedback. And we just have really different challenges. So, if you’re, if you’re under sensitive, one of the challenges is that you don’t, you don’t understand that people are giving you feedback.
William Laitinen : I’ve met those definitely.
Sheila Heen : So indirect, so indirect, that you’re just you know, they’re like, you know, William does it this way, you’re like good for William, you know, let’s move on. Or, or you really do get the feedback. But because you don’t have a big emotional reaction to it. It’s hard to remember it actually, memory is very tied to emotion. And so, you’ve got the best of intentions, but by next week, you’ve forgotten about it. So, getting through to you is harder if you’re under sensitive. And we probably all know people who you have to hit them over the head to even get their attention. So that’s just a different set of challenges. And I would say that Doug and I, my co-author has, we have really different profiles. And that made us a good pairing for this book. Because I am probably a little bit more even keel. I bounce, I get quite upset, but I bounce back relatively quickly. Doug would describe himself as, as hypersensitive to feedback. And sometimes people ask him, you know, how do I know if I’m sensitive? And he’s like, yeah, if you don’t know, then you’re not. Because people are super sensitive to feedback, like, there’s just no ambiguity about it, you live your life, sort of in fear. So, so what happens if you if you get a really upsetting piece of feedback, wherever you fall in that spectrum, of course, some feedback is gonna be more upsetting than others. If you are really devastated by a piece of feedback, part of what happens is that the feedback gets supersized. Like, it grows beyond the actual size. So, it’s not one thing that you screwed up. It’s everything. Like, you’ve never done anything right in your whole life. And it’s not now, it’s forever, like, I’m never gonna, there’s, there’s shame associated with it, there’s a sense of hopelessness, like, I’m never going to get better at this. You’re lying awake at night. For me, it would be trying not to cry, unsuccessfully. So, I, in that state, you just can’t learn. And so, in order to get to a place where you can learn, you’ve got to find ways to see the feedback at actual size to right size it. And so, you know, there are a bunch of things that we talk about. One is, is that growth mindset shift. A second is to do what we sometimes call a containment chart, like what is this feedback about, and what isn’t it about? This is about, you know, whether they think I have the skills it takes to operate at the next level, which is why they didn’t give me the promotion. And those skills include, you know, my, my client cultivation skills, what isn’t it about, what it isn’t about is actually that I’m doing a bang-up job at the job that I currently have, once the clients in the door, I am their favorite person in the entire world. And I get lots of follow-on business. So, what is it about maybe it’s about my new cultivation skills? So, what I but what I don’t need to worry about is once I get to know someone, whether I can deliver so, so you’re starting to sort. And this isn’t about whether I’m a good partner, it’s not whether I’m a good parent, it’s not about whether I am a good colleague to work with. And so, you’re kind of making a chart that helps you isolate what it is about, and also appreciate the things about you that are really not under fire, maybe to give you a place to stand.
Sheila Heen : You said this thing about right sizing and then sort of containment charts it’s almost like categorizing what you’ve got, and then seeing them in this sort of stark light of day, you’ll be able to say, Okay, I get it. It’s not, it’s not drawing, it’s not the kind of making a criticism of my central being that I’m worthless and not, not capable. It’s about trying to disentangle it from, yeah, the emotions that you may be having and the sort of some, some insecurities and trying to focus in on the actual thing that they say.
Sheila Heen : Yeah, we have a whole chapter called dismantling the distortions. And maybe the one other thing that I’ll add here is, is thinking about a second score. So, the first score is whatever the devastating feedback I just got was, you know, I failed the test. I got fired. I didn’t, you know, I was the lowest rated speaker at the conference. Everybody hates me. That’s my first score. Super depressing. My second score has to do with what do I decide to do with that? I had a really devastating speaking engagement, maybe seven or eight years ago, and it didn’t, it didn’t go well for a whole bunch of reasons. And I was, just felt ill afterwards, and after I licked my wounds for a while, and sulked, I decided, all right, I’m going to make learning, what’s different about speaking my project for the next year. Because I think for many, many years, so I’ve been teaching classes and teaching workshops, which are longer form for years and when we had a shorter like an hour or an hour and 15 minutes, and it was more of a talk, a speech, I had been getting away with just doing a workshop, faster. And because it was really good content. And because that was interactive, that worked well. Then I got in a situation where I was supposed to have an hour and 15 minutes, I actually only had 45 minutes. I didn’t adapt well. And that’s the time it went really badly. But it shook me up enough to think like, okay, maybe there’s just something this is just a different animal, like giving a talk a keynote is a different animal than running a workshop and teaching. And what can I learn about that? And so, I made it my project for the next year, to let go of my habits and things that gotten me by and I read books, and I watched talks, and I, you know, asked a friend of mine who teaches preachers, like, how do you think about teaching someone to give a five-minute homily? And what are the principles underlying that, which I need to learn and so then, now, I feel like I have come such a long way. And, you know, I speak all over the world, and it’s fun and interesting, and it doesn’t always go perfectly, but I’m certainly, you know, 400% better at it than I used to be. And that’s my second score. So, I got an F, I got an F seven years ago, but based on what I did about that feedback…
William Laitinen : Yeah
Sheila Heen : I maybe get a, you know, an A minus, as my second score for what I decided to learn from it.
William Laitinen : It’s such a lovely example. Thank you, Sheila, for sharing that. I heard that there’s like this, so many moments, when we get this really bad feedback, and we’re, particularly when we’re doing something for the first time, we kind of just give up. And I hear in you that you were able to disentangle yourself from that sort of identity issue that was driving, you were saying, you know, Sheila bad, Sheila’s not worth it, sort of type thing too. Okay. What was I doing, I obviously am able to, able to do stuff and present but what happened there and then able to go away and search out experts who could help take you on that journey to get to a place where you would be able to apply understand the underlying principles and then do it better?
Sheila Heen : Hopefully, yeah. And I, and I don’t want to overstate the extent to which I was able to dis, dislodge from Sheila bad, because I definitely felt Sheila bad. It continued to feel Sheila bad, even today. Um, but I, I do you also have a little bit of a profile of like, oh, I’ll show you. That, that is motivating. Like, okay, I totally screwed that up. Sheila bad, but I’ll come back and show you that, you know, maybe that I’m worth it. So, I have a little bit of a, I’m hesitating to call it revenge, because it’s not hurting them. It’s mostly redeeming myself, perhaps.
William Laitinen : Yeah, that’s yeah, I get that. That’s, I was gonna ask you what your self-talk is. Do you have a, you said you have a little self-talk? What does it sound like? When you’re Do you have a, do you have a model for that?
Sheila Heen : Yeah. And I think I’ve paid more attention to it. I mean, it’s definitely, you know, that sort of burning pit of your stomach shame of like, that was totally humiliating, I, what was I thinking? Why didn’t I see this coming? When, when one of the things I’ve been really thinking about is confidence, what is, what is confidence? And I think one way to think about it for me is, is as an equation. So, there’s my, there’s a variable, that is my sense of what the task is that I need to do. And then my sense of my own capabilities, those all have sub variables, obviously, in them. And then if those match up, or I feel like Well, my capabilities are more than the task, then I’m confident if my, if my sense is my capabilities are less than the task, then I’m not confident. But now, if I was overconfident, which I definitely was with that talk. I was not worried about it. Even after watching all the other speakers. I should have been worried about it. So, then I’ve got to do some diagnosis like okay, was it that I underestimated the task? And it was actually more complex than I thought it was. Or I didn’t adapt when it changed? Or was I overconfident about my capabilities, and I need to get some more honest with myself about where I’ve got some work to do. And that actually will help right the ship or fix the equation.
William Laitinen : Wow, I love that. So you use a confidence equation to assess how you’ve done in the moment to then apply, need to go out and get better at it, understand where maybe there was some mismatch between confidence, the sense of the task and the sense of your own capabilities and in that there’s an opportunity to reflect and that’s where having a great mental model, right and haven’t been able to be honest with yourself is, and try and find a way, because that the honesty with yourself is really difficult isn’t it to, to be able to say, you know, okay, I hear that. And is that right? Is it wrong? Because you said, you talked about that in the book, you’re like, there’s definitely this moment where like, we got to be good at getting feedback. But then there’s also this moment where you’ve got to say, I don’t want it. I don’t want feedback, either. And I found…
Sheila Heen : Hmm we know we’re supposed to. Yeah, but we don’t really
William Laitinen : Yeah. And I found that that’s, I completely get, you’ve got to protect yourself from feedback at times. Because it may be…
Sheila Heen : Yeah
William Laitinen : It may actually be just harmful. And it may not be doing you any good. You may be getting a person who’s toxic in your life. But there may be those moments where somebody’s giving you feedback, even if they’re not someone you like, and it’s actually really valuable. Finding that somehow having a methodology I could hear in that confidence one, might be a great way to do that. But yeah, that that’s a very difficult component. And I don’t expect you to have an answer to it even if you do share it, but I think maybe that’s just experiences in life and trying to figure that out. But…
Sheila Heen : Partly, I mean, the thing that made me think of the confidence equation was your question about self-talk. Because at least in the movies, right, what you see around self-talk is really focused on building up my sense of my capabilities, like, okay, you can do it, you’re a good person, you know what you’re doing, you’re amazing, right? Um, and, and for me, that has not helped maybe because it’s not coming from a credible source, i.e., me. What, what has helped me more is getting a better sense of the task, like break it down. And think, okay, if this then what, what do I need to be able to do? What don’t I think I’ve got a good handle on yet, etc.? And, and then that leads back to what do I need to work on, right? But you’re also right, let’s, let’s talk about the other thing that you just brought up, which is, Chapter 10, by the way, is all about how to turn away feedback, because there are times where this is just not helping.
William Laitinen : Yeah
Sheila Heen : Like this constant barrage of criticism is not helping. My sister-in-law teaches strategy at Harvard Business School, she taught at INSEAD and then she taught for a couple years at Harvard recently, and Harvard has a very different teaching model than many other places in terms of the case method and how they use classroom conversation. And so, the school assigned a coach to sit in on her classes and give her feedback at the end of every class. And at first, it was very helpful, and then, as the classes mounted, and the list of things she had to work on, kept getting longer and longer and longer. She finally said to the coach, like okay, I, this, this has basically destroyed any confidence I had, and I even knew how to teach. So, I really just need to pause the feedback, I need you not to be present, so that I can just focus on working on what you’ve already given me. And then when I’m ready, I’ll let you know. So sometimes we have to draw boundaries in our relationships, including like, I can’t be in this relationship, if you can’t keep your judgments and constant criticisms to yourself, or we, we can’t talk about this topic. I know that you don’t like the person I married; I have now married them. And so, I need you to keep your comments to yourself on this topic. So, so that’s all about boundaries.
William Laitinen : Yeah.
Sheila Heen : The other thing that you mentioned was sort of all of the different triggered reactions we have to any feedback, so maybe we should talk about those.
William Laitinen : Yeah, no, no, that’s absolutely. Thank you for getting us back on track of so much beautiful stuff in there. Thank you. And I can only imagine what it’s like your household with a sister-in-law who’s also doing negotiation right? And when you get Christmas presents…
Sheila Heen : Oh yeah! My, my husband also teaches negotiation, as well as my sister, my actual sister so yeah, it’s a whole…
William Laitinen : I’d love to see how you guys negotiate going for dinner somewhere. That would be amazing. But let’s get on cause I was gonna ask you about the, the triggers. And there was there was these three blockers, right? So, there’s truth, relationship, and identity that you put in in the book. Maybe you lead us off in how you want to kind of tackle these?
Sheila Heen : Yeah, yeah. Well, so what we in talking to hundreds and then thousands of people about and just listening to their reactions to feedback, what, what we realized is that when, anytime feedback is incoming to me, I am first of all, screening it for what’s wrong with it. Because if I can find something wrong with it, then I can, you know, set it aside and relax and move on with my life and in terms of what wrong with it. You know, what you’re saying isn’t true, that didn’t happen the way that you’re saying, you’re misunderstanding me, how you’re giving me this feedback is pathetic. You know, who you are is suspect because you don’t have any credibility, I don’t trust you, I think you’ve got your own agenda. Why I think you’re giving it to me, you’re just trying to undermine me in front of other people, or you’re just jealous. So, we have all kinds of, we call it wrong spotting that we do, when we’re assessing the feedback coming at us. And we’re looking for what’s wrong with it. So that we can, you know, safely reject it. And there are a couple of problems with that. One is, we’re always going to be able to find something wrong with the feedback that we get. And it could be, could be 90% wrong. And that last 10% might actually be a value. And then the second, is that those triggered reactions turned out to be pretty universal, and that they shouldn’t be the end of the story. So, we grouped them, as you just described, kind of into, they fall into three categories of triggered reactions we have when we’re getting feedback. The first is what we call a truth trigger. And this has to do with assessing the accuracy or, or quality of the feedback itself. Like, is that true? Did that happen? Does it understand the full story or context and to accept that you’re giving me advice, do I think that advice would work is this good advice or bad advice? So that’s about the content of it. But there are two more triggers. The second one is a relationship trigger. And that has to do with who’s giving me the feedback. Because all feedback lives in that relationship between giver and receiver. And I often have a bigger reaction to the who than I do to the what which is, which is why a stranger can tell me something, and it might be exactly the same thing, as my spouse has told me 100 times, but I just hear it differently from a stranger or an acquaintance. Because it’s not tied up in all the ways in which my spouse wants me to change and is being annoying about it
William Laitinen : This is a classic one for married people. Yeah, really is a classic one. Absolutely.
Sheila Heen : Yeah, I know right? So, the challenge of the relationship trigger is like, how do I pull apart the who from the what, because we may have issues in our relationship, and irritatingly, you also may have something of value that you’re offering me. And then the third trigger is what we call an identity trigger. And that has to do with that sensitivity to feedback, like what’s my feedback profile? What’s the story I tell about who I am? And how am I wired? sensitivity, growth, mindset, etc. And can I manage, so along with that truth, relationship identity, each of them has a set of challenges. The identity challenge is the challenge of being me understanding my own profile and, and helping other people know how to give me feedback so that I can hear it sometimes. The challenge around relationship triggers is we call it the challenge of we, how do I separate the who, from the what? And how do I, how do we understand our relationship system, because if we’re having trouble, say, working together, I think you’re the problem, you think I’m the problem. And the problem may be the combination of the two of us, or the roles that we’re in, etc. So how do we take that apart and diagnose it so that we can try to improve it? And then the challenge around truth is the challenge to see, to see what in the world the giver is trying to tell me, which actually is harder than we think it is. And also, to see ourselves accurately and to see those blind spots that we may have that we need other people to help us see ourselves accurately.
William Laitinen : Yeah, thank you for that. Those truth, relationship, and identity. When I heard these three, I was like, Oh, my God, I know why that that piece of feedback went wrong. If only I would have approached it maybe with a bit more clear signposting, as you talked about in the book as well, later than that could have really helped me. And I really took a lot from, from those three things. And in my own experience of giving feedback because I have to do it often. You know, why you didn’t make it through to the next round of interviews, why the client has said, No, or whatever it is, and…
Sheila Heen : Yeah
William Laitinen : And it’s difficult, because at that point, I’ve either had to form enough of a relationship with the individual that they’ll let it land. And I’m sure they’re, they’re assessing me for truth. And it’s, it’s a very difficult one to get. And I, but I when I heard those, it’s really great. But one of the other things you, you identified, which is a mental model, now I have up on my wall, this is how much I love this one is the three types of feedback that we’re getting right. Would you tell us about the three types of feedback?
Sheila Heen : Yeah, yeah. And I also should say that, that we didn’t make these up, actually, these come from Roger Fisher and Alan Sharp and John Richardson in a book called “Getting it done”. John Richardson is my husband by the way, so I’d better give credit where credit is due here. But, but we found the categories incredibly helpful. So, the idea here is, is that although we tossed around this word feedback, that there are actually three different types of feedback, and they have really different purposes. And the easy way to remember them is, is the acronym ACE, A. C. E., which by the way, we forgot to put the acronym in the book…
William Laitinen : Do you know I just realized that! I hadn’t even realised that. There we go.
Sheila Heen : So there’ a, a bonus. We’re a little bit, we’re a little bit allergic to acronyms, because so many of them end up being forced. But and so we have a bias against them. But that led us not to include this. And now that we’ve been teaching it forever, we’re like, oh, it’s really helpful, we should just put it in the damn book. So, the three types of ACE, a is appreciation. And appreciation just says like, I see you, and I get you, and I notice how far you’ve come, and I see how hard you’re working. And it has a big, obviously appreciation has a big impact on engagement, and motivation is what keeps us going right? And makes us feel seen. C is coaching. And coaching is anything designed to help me get better at something. Coaching has become a term of art, right in the business world for a particular approach, elicitive way to help someone learn, and that’s included, but we actually also mean the bigger category, like if it is designed to make me better, more knowledgeable, more effective, more efficient. So that could be corrections, suggestion, advice, whatever, it counts coaching, and that’s the engine for learning and change and adapting and improving over time, of course, but then there’s a third type of feedback, which is the E, which is evaluation, and evaluation rates, or ranks us against some set of expectations. It tells us where we stand and how we’re doing. So obviously grades are evaluation getting or not getting the offer, in your world is evaluation, performance reviews are evaluation. And evaluation is actually the type of feedback that we typically have the biggest reaction to, feeling judged. And so, one of the trends lately has been people getting rid of performance reviews, meaning organizations canceling performance reviews, because they want to focus on really the appreciation and coaching aspects of feedback, which are actually the things that are most important and should be going on throughout the whole year as we talk about the work we’re doing together and get things done day in and day out. Appreciation and coaching, making those part of your everyday life as you work together is key. And what we’ve noticed in some cases is that if you get rid of evaluation entirely, and people really genuinely don’t have a way to figure out whether they’re on track, and if they’re doing okay. If they’re a superstar, or they just think they’re a superstar, but they’re not. And they don’t know like, should I even put my hat in the ring for this next thing, if you can’t tell where you stand, you get a lot of anxiety in the system, and people start to try to listen for how am I doing? Through coaching or appreciation like how come you’re getting all the appreciation? Does that mean? I’m not doing okay? Or how come I’m getting so much coaching? Am I in trouble? I’m about to be fired. So, you do need some mechanism to let people know whether they’re on track.
Sheila Heen : I agree with that, actually, I’ve got a theory why that people why they, organizations moving away from evaluation. And it’s quite fun and simple thing actually, I don’t think many organizations define jobs very well. Certainly, my experience, it’s, it’s something like I’ll give you a job, you got to do this job. Go and figure it out. And, and the, the jobs evolved so much to at some point that the job description against which they need to be evaluated is not clear in their own mind and the key competencies, what they have to do in that job can be unknown to both the giver and the receiver of the job. So, evaluation becomes very difficult. And let’s face it, as organizations evolve and things change, it becomes difficult to keep track of those evaluation components.
Sheila Heen : I think that all of us as human beings need all three types of feedback. But we need different types at different times. And when we ask for feedback, we’re not even clear what we’re asking for. And when people offer feedback, they think they’re coaching. So even when the giver is trying to coach, I think we’re, we’re prone to hear it as judgment or evaluation. And so, I think it’s a joint project to say like what, what am I trying to offer you and what are you hearing?
William Laitinen : Yeah, the receiver has to get good disentangling or trying to identify what is getting in the way of that feedback. And then we have to appreciate the, the relationship that we have to them or how difficult it is making it for them to receive it. And I think once we understand the complexities it, I mean, that’s where I came to your idea of like being signposting in conversations. And I’ve done, I’ve done it myself, I’ve got okay. Look, I I’ve let me give you example, Sheila, I’m, I’ve written I wrote some poetry recently, because one of my newest things, I’m writing poetry, “all the teams that fail, fail, when a fire is lit. And an angry slow burning, takes hold. The fire starts so fragile, extinguish rubble at any moment,” and it’s excruciating embarrassing for a 38-year-old man to be writing poetry and, and so I wrote a piece of a poem, and I gave it to a colleague, and I listened to your book. And I said, Look, okay, what I don’t want from you, is telling me that you don’t like it, or that you, you do like it, whatever, I just want you to tell me, do you think it works as a piece? What did you hear in it? Was, was the length of it okay? I was very, I was very, very specific about the feedback I wanted. Because I felt at that moment in quite a vulnerable state that my, and that my enthusiasm for the whole thing could be crushed in a moment, like some, like kind of tiny butterfly. And so, I kind of really tried to put some boundaries around the feedback that I was eliciting knowing how I felt about it. And then, but I also have to be very specific. So, I knew, in this instance, it’s Samantha, who’s, who works for me, I had to be very clear to her that she was safe in the relationship situation as well, that I wasn’t going to be upset. And I this is the, the boundaries of it. And, and so I found those signposting actually helped us both go, Okay, let’s do that. So, I thank you, by the way, so…
Sheila Heen : Yeah
William Laitinen : Maybe that’s that saved me in still writing some poetry. But that’s how I’ve used all of the things that you’ve said, to create signposting, create boundaries, and then get more confident with the process. And now I’ll ask for more and more I think, as I, as I go on, in that journey, myself,
Sheila Heen : I love the fact that you were so clear, because particularly as a writer, myself, I have learned that when I hand a draft of something to someone, I really need to be clear what kind of feedback I am asking them for. And when someone hands me something to read, I’ve learned to ask, and so you’re asking for appreciation. And then some bit of evaluation of whether this is worth continuing to work with. Maybe I’m asking, you know, is this worth pursuing, which is a judgment that I’m asking about the quality of the idea. And it could also be that I am at a place where I say, I just need some coaching, and I needed on a couple of specific fronts, I’m not sure the opening to this chapter really works or is clear, or I’m struggling with whether this example is the right fit.
William Laitinen : So, Sheila, thank you, you’ve shared so many amazing components of your book and the work that you’ve done. But I suppose maybe this one question, maybe there’s a bit of a tough one, but what has changed? What have you changed in your thinking since writing the book if anything?
Sheila Heen : Hmm, well, so my, you know, like you, I’ve got two boys and a girl, but I, I’m a little bit ahead of you on the age curve. And so, a lot of what I’m thinking about right now has to do with when I need to withhold my feedback. As my son, my eldest turns 21, and my second son turns 18. And my daughter is 14, which is a tough age for a girl, she’s already so much harder and more judgmental of herself, then, you know, it’s painful to, to watch and to listen to. And so, I’ve really actually been thinking about how do I need to handle the feedback I have for them differently based on who they are, obviously, but also differently based on where they are in their own sort of developmental arc and where our relationship is like, what’s my role? As they’re changing, and I’m changing. So. By the way, my kids, one of my kids’ favorite things to say to me is like, “Mom, just take the feedback”. So, it’s not, it’s not necessarily easy, and they just have more ammunition against me. But, but yeah, I’ve been thinking about that. As our relationship with each other is changing.
William Laitinen : That’s wonderful. I love the way that kids really can cut through at times and
Sheila Heen : Oh, yeah.
William Laitinen : Dismantle these you know, these sort of identities that we create at work in our professional lives and “no just take the feedback you know, you know, stop being an idiot, Dad, stop wearing that shirt. That shirt looks terrible.”
Sheila Heen : Right exactly. So, yeah, that’s definitely where, where we’re at with my daughter right now.
William Laitinen : Wonderful. I mean, again, I’ve been so very grateful for everything you’ve shared today and the time that you’ve given to us today as well. Do you have three books that you would recommend to anybody?
Sheila Heen : Well, that’s interesting, because I think, what I was thinking about was what books have made a big impression on me. When I was, I was in middle school, I found a book on my parents’ shelf. And I was trying to remember the name of it, because it wasn’t “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It was a book about friendship, written for adults, but about the nature of friendship and how to be, make friends by being a friend. And I think that’s one of the earliest books I can think of that got me thinking about human interaction as a thing to study and talk about. And it actually helped me make friends and be a good loyal friend.
William Laitinen : Is that the title making friends by a friend do you think?
Sheila Heen : I don’t think, I was, I was actually trying to find it this morning. And I don’t know if I can, I may have to call my mother. If she finds it on the shelf, I will um…
William Laitinen : Please do. Yeah.
Sheila Heen : I will send you the right title. “Getting to Yes”, of course. It was a seminal book in my life. And I think is a beautifully written simple, but elegant book that sets out a framework for understanding, interaction and negotiation.
William Laitinen : Yeah, it’s “Getting to Yes” was actually the one I’m listening to right now. The Roger Fisher and William…
Sheila Heen : Bill Ury and Bruce Patton. Yep. So, Bruce, Bruce is also my co-author on “Difficult Conversations”, Bruce and Doug.
William Laitinen : Excellent.
Sheila Heen : Yeah.
William Laitinen : Amazing. Okay, “Getting to Yes”. And it’s the one, a third one, do you, do you like fiction or something else? That’s nonbusiness or self-improvement related?
Sheila Heen : Yeah. There’s a book called, and this is actually by a British writer named Sarah Hill. And it’s, it’s for leaders, it’s called “Where did you learn to behave like that”. And it’s about the ways in which our childhood experiences and childhood story influence how we lead, and maybe in particular, how we lead under stress. And Sarah is just a beautiful, authentic human being. And I think she’s hit upon something that I have not, that, that is sort of part of the journey, and that I’m on an earlier part of the journey than I probably should be on. So, yeah, I think it’s really valuable.
William Laitinen : That is wonderful. Thank you very much for those three recommendations. In terms of like, people, if they want to hear about the work that you’re doing, you’re doing so many different things. I know you’re, you do corporate coaching, you do some corporate workshops, you’re obviously lecturing at Harvard. If people want to reach out to you kind of find out more about where you are, how would people find you, Sheila?
Sheila Heen : Well, so the easy answer to that is that although I did not like my name as a kid, in the internet age, having a unique name is a big a big plus. So, if you just Google Sheila Heen, H E E N, you’re gonna find me and all of my different emails, and the hats that are different I wear, they all funnel to the same place. I’m on LinkedIn, and, and all of that as well. And yeah, it’s been really interesting. Maybe the other thing we’re thinking about is, we’re doing virtual sessions for leaders, and how do we talk about feedback effectively, while we’re working remotely?
William Laitinen : Yeah.
Sheila Heen : And we’re not in the same room where I can quickly get a sense of like, how’s your day going? And what’s going on with you, and, and we can connect, it’s just harder. And so that’s a big piece of what we’ve been doing lately, as well.
William Laitinen : Well, I hope anybody listening out there who’s interested, takes you up on that, and I hope this isn’t the last conversation Sheila that you and I have around this. And this idea of feedback, because I’m thoroughly interested, I realize I got lots of development to take. I’m going to give you some feedback, now Sheila you’ve done a fantastic job. Thank you very much, just some appreciation. I really appreciate what you’ve done and what you’ve given to us today. And so maybe it’s that, that’s just appreciation. That’s the right thing for us to do to where to end it.
Sheila Heen : Well, thank you and, and thank you for a really fascinating conversation. It was such a pleasure.
William Laitinen : Well, there you are. Sheila Heen. What a great conversation. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And you can take away some of the gems that Sheila shares, but none of this would have been possible without the fantastic team behind the podcast. A big thank you to our producer, Andrea Muraskin and of course, the whole Exige Team, Samantha Smart, Fiona Laitinen and, and everybody else who’s made this episode possible. But wish you all a wonderful day or evening wherever you are. And I hope you’ll join us again at the next episode of Talent Equals.
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