The Sales Tax Institute Book Club: Thanks for the Feedback

Last month, the Sales Tax Institute book club focused on learning the art and science of giving and receiving feedback by reading Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. 

Learning how to give and receive feedback are key skills in many different aspects of our lives, whether that’s in friendships, partnerships, romantic relationships, familial or work relationships. 

In our professional lives, we give and receive feedback so often that we don’t always notice it. Feedback can be given through subtle body language and tone of voice or through verbal communication. There is an art to giving feedback, but there is also an art to receiving it. We all have blindspots when it comes to our own behavior, and feedback can help fill in the gap between our intentions and actions. By staying in a mindset that encourages self reflection and growth, we’re much more likely to have success down the road.

Although giving and receiving feedback can be uncomfortable, understanding the different types of feedback that can make these uncomfortable situations more successful and worthwhile for everyone involved. 



The 3 Types of Feedback

Feedback comes in three different styles. These three styles each serve an important purpose and satisfy specific needs, but they come with challenges as well. One challenge is understanding the time, place, and situation to use each one. Each type of feedback satisfies different human needs. The trick is to read the situation carefully to determine which type of feedback is appropriate.  

Let’s take a closer look at the three types of feedback as well as strategies for giving feedback: appreciation, coaching, and evaluation.



“Appreciation conveys, ‘I see you,’ ‘I know how hard you’ve been working,’ and ‘You matter to me.’” – Thanks for the Feedback 

Appreciation functions as a motivator to keep doing what you’ve been doing so well. Sometimes the feedback you want to receive is not advice, but rather a sign that someone has seen how hard you’ve been working and appreciates what you’re doing. This strategy demonstrates that giving and receiving feedback doesn’t need to be viewed as a potentially painful experience. It can be used to reward individuals in either a professional or personal setting. We all need to know we’ve done something that is valued.  Providing this type of feedback not only makes the recipient feel good, but as the feedback giver, it can put a smile on your face as you recognize the efforts of others.




“Coaching is aimed at trying to help someone learn, grow, or change.” – Thanks for the Feedback

Coaching can be prompted by the need to improve on something or to satisfy a new need. For example, if you start a new job, you’ll need coaching to get up to speed on your tasks. Coaching can also be prompted when the feedback giver is unsatisfied with something in your relationship. This is often prompted more by emotion rather than a tangible need. For coaching feedback, collaboration between the giver and recipient helps ensure that actionable steps are defined. Coaching feedback also can often be where the feedback giver is listening more than talking. It should involve guidance that prompts those “ah ha” moments.




“Evaluation tells you where you stand. It’s an assessment, ranking, or rating.” – Thanks for the Feedback

Evaluations clarify the expectations, consequences, and decision making in the situation. They are often comparisons, whether explicit or not, against others, standards, or your previous performance. In annual reviews at work, your boss will most likely evaluate your work from the last year. Evaluations can also include judgements beyond the assessment. These judgements are often the cause of anxiety around feedback. Evaluation feedback is typically the hardest to hear and therefore the one to learn how to best receive. Evaluation feedback, if taken in the vein for which it is intended, can really be beneficial. For the best success, the feedback giver needs to be clear when providing evaluation feedback, so the receiver can be in the right frame of mind to hear it in the most advantageous way.



Key Takeaways

Beyond learning how to appropriately use the three types of feedback, the Sales Tax Institute has a few key takeaways from Thanks for the Feedback

  • The closeness and communication style between the feedback giver and receiver influences how we process it. Be careful not to let emotions overtake your ability to listen and understand the feedback and the context it is being provided in.
  • Take a moment to see if you’re getting in your own way. The story you tell yourself when you receive feedback will affect how you take it and act on it. Allow others to help you fill in your blind spots.  One way you can do this is to proactively reach out to people you trust and ask for their feedback regarding your tendencies, roadblocks, etc.
  • To understand feedback that surprises or confuses you, take the time to discuss where the feedback is coming from (the feedback giver’s data and interpretations) and where the feedback is going to (advice, consequences, or expectations). It can be helpful to think of feedback not as a one-way transaction but rather an opportunity to open up a two-way conversation.

Feedback is a part of everyone’s day to day lives, and knowing how to give and receive it will make life better for everyone involved. The Sales Tax Institute is excited to put this new knowledge into practice as we continue to navigate working together as a team.

Next, the Sales Tax Institute will take on I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb . We’d love to have you join us in our next reading assignment. We encourage you to support your independent local bookstores. Our neighborhood bookstore is Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in historic Printer’s Row Chicago. Join us and support your own favorite local store!

Posted on April 28, 2021