One of the annoying things about listening to audiobooks rather than reading them is that it’s hard to go back and double check an interesting idea you heard. As I mentioned last week I’ve been listening to Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen and as I was hanging out the washing the other night (a primetime for audio books) I listened to an interesting idea about the second scorecard.

Now this is when I’d normally go back to the book and double check I’ve got my facts right but in this instance, I’m just going to try to remember it correctly. Forgive me if I get it wildly wrong but this is not brain surgery and what's a little hearsay amongst friends? 

Thanks for the Feedback is about how to best receive and give feedback. It talks alot about finding the ‘coaching’ in amongst the ‘evaluation’ that happens when we encounter feedback. But what happens when the feedback is bad? Like someone just really doesn’t like something you’ve created or a person you like, just doesn’t like you back? 

It can be really hard to receive harsh and sometimes truthful feedback. Depending on the feedback it can knock our sense of self and take a while to recover from. This is when the second scorecard comes in handy. The second score card offers an opportunity to score your reaction to the feedback rather than the feedback itself. 

Imagine if you failed an exam - the mark itself is negative and would be considered a “low score" in the scheme of things but how you react and respond to that mark is up to you. You could throw your arms up in the air and complain about the whole thing being rigged (low score) or look at this as an opportunity to learn (high score) what you could’ve done differently thus turning this negative experience into a positive one. 

Sometimes we might not have had much control over the original score we got in a situation. Imagine being part of a team that missed their mark perhaps. What we do have control over is our second scorecard. We get to decide how we respond and what actions we take. Coincidentally (but not surprisingly) this idea links nicely back to the stoic belief that the only thing we have control over is our own character. 

Another way of looking at it is through the lens of a growth mindset versus a fixed once. If someone has a fixed mindset they are more likely to resent feedback - not being able to change and adapt, feedback often feels threatening. When someone has a growth mindset they are more likely to hear the opportunities that reside in feedback and more importantly, action them if it means a better outcome next time. 

Yesterday at work I showed Matt a project I was working on. I was pretty proud of the result and after a few seconds of looking over my shoulder in silence Matt said that I should think about the white space a bit more. My immediate reaction / response was to arc up and say, ‘well you try and fit this much text into a two page document egg’. To which he replied, ‘but you're the designer’ to which I replied with ‘yeah, thanks’. Then I stopped. 

This was a second scorecard opportunity. 

Before this escalated into a feedback battle I had to rein it in. Now I’m sure most of you would’ve read that simple comment ‘you should think about the white space some more’ and wonder why I reacted so angrily - firstly, it because the amazing authors and people who have these incredible insights about graciously accepting feedback obviously don’t work and live with their partners 100% of the time.

This is another important point from the book, when the feedback we are getting is actually tainted with something else. In Matt’s case the white space remark came with:

• The fact he got me a warm glass of water when I had back to back meetings that day.

• The annoyance I have for his messy desk.

• The fact that everytime he shows me something he’s worked on I say how great it is and how proud I am of him! 

• The fact he hangs out the washing like he hates the people who wear the clothes.

• How he never quite fills up my cup of tea high enough.

I could go one but you get the idea. Sometimes it's more about the feedback giver rather than the feedback itself. If one of my fellow design pairs gave me the same feedback I’d probably agree and really give the white space issue some more objective thought. Unfortunately for Matt our baseline is pretty loaded already - to be honest it’s surprising the guy can even say good morning to me without getting blasted! 

Point is that I had the opportunity to fix it right then and there. The second scorecard let me give myself another mark. So I just said ‘thanks’. I actually said, ‘thanks for the feedback’ and generally meant it - even if this was just an opportunity to use the second scorecard! With fresh eyes I might be able to address the white space but at the moment I’m just glad I’ve found another tip to help make the most of feedback (especially from Matt) and keep turning each of life's precious moments into either good news or a good story.

Video of the week
Himesh Patel reads the most hilarious response to a university rejection letter
Podcast of the week
Maintenance Phase: Elizabeth Taylor’s “Elizabeth Takes Off”
Font of the week
Jangkuy: Font of the week by Yukkazzu

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