Sheila Heen, Difficult Conversations – InnovaBuzz 248
Sheila Heen, Difficult Conversations
In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Sheila Heen, co-author of Difficult Conversations and Thanks for the Feedback, She is also the Founder of Triad Consulting Group and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. Her corporate clients include BAE Systems, HSBC, the Federal Reserve Bank, Merck, MetLife, Novartis, Standard Bank of South Africa, Unilever, among others.
Sheila often works with executive teams, helping them to work through conflict, repair working relationships, and make sound decisions together. In the public sector she has also provided training for the New England Organ Bank, the Singapore Supreme Court, the Obama White House. She’s spent the last twenty years with the Harvard Negotiation Project, developing negotiation theory and practice. She’s appeared on shows as diverse as Oprah and the G. Gordon Liddy show, NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, Fox News, NPR’s Market Money and CNBC’s Power Lunch.
In our discussion, Sheila and I talked about:
- Beginning the difficult conversations process with self-exploration
- The three types of feedback and the importance of appreciation
- How to give and receive valuable feedback
Scott Perry on episode 229 introduced us to Sheila.
Listen to the podcast to find out more.
Listen to the PodcastA big piece of understanding and managing difficult conversations more successfully is reflecting on yourself first. @SheilaHeen on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet
Show Notes from this episode with Sheila Heen, Co-Author of Difficult Conversations
Key points and takeaways from this episode include:
- Kids are natural negotiators. They instantly pay attention to what works.
- Anytime you are trying to influence someone else is a negotiation.
- Negotiation is all around us. It is in every relationship that we have.
- The question of blame often escalates things further.
- A big piece of understanding and managing difficult conversations more successfully is reflecting on yourself first.
- Get out of the blame frame and focus on joint contributions. If you can figure out what each party can contribute, it helps identify what can be done differently. It turns the blame into a more constructive problem solving, that encourages each and everyone to take responsibility.
- There is no way you can control anybody. All you can do is control yourself and give that person an invitation to a different kind of conversation.
- Pull the intention apart from the impact and hold each of them equally on their own merits. The fact that you have good intentions doesn’t excuse the impact. Even if you did have good intentions, you need to talk about the impact you have on the team.
- Raise an issue by describing the impact as problematic rather than raising it by accusing someone of having bad intentions.
- The three different types of feedback:
- Appreciation – appreciating someone
- Coaching – anything designed to make someone better
- Evaluation – rating or ranking someone based on expectations or criteria
- Appreciation has a big impact on engagement, persistence, and morale.
- Coaching is the art in the business world. It is an illustrative way to help someone learn. It is the engine for learning to collaborate more effectively and from trying things out.
- Positive evaluation doubles as appreciation. It is really important to be genuine and specific about both appreciation and positive evaluation.
- Appreciate more. It costs so little and is very easy to do.
- When someone offers you feedback, set aside your feelings as to whether or not you agree with the feedback. Work first to understand it because feedback usually comes in vague labels or phrases.
- Any piece of advice is autobiographical. It is filtered by our own experiences and the way that we make meaning out of it.
- People who ask for negative feedback adapt more quickly to new roles and relationships. They have higher job satisfaction and performance reviews.
The Buzz – Our Innovation Round
Here are Sheila’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Listen to the interview to get the full scoop.
- #1 thing to be more innovative – Seek out feedback not just from the experts. The best feedback often comes from unexpected places and often the people who don’t know a lot are the most valuable feedback givers.
- Best thing for new ideas – Listen for what people are struggling with.
- Favourite tool for innovation – People who I think are smarter and more knowledgeable than me.
- Keep project / client on track – Ask the client for feedback. Ask them what’s the one thing that can make the project even better from their point of view. Asking clients for feedback is the best way to constantly improve your collaboration together.
- Differentiate – Understand what it’s like to be working with you. Who knows what you know that would recommend the experience of working with you. Not only being very knowledgeable but also being easy to work with is a killer combination not just for the projects you are doing now but for the word of mouth that follows you.
To Be a Leader
Always be asking what you are not doing because you don’t know how to do it. It feels uncomfortable but you have to lean into that confusion and discomfort because that is what will lead to your next innovation.
You can reach out and thank Sheila through their website.
Sheila suggested I interview Cathy Salit, author of Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work. So Cathy, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Sheila Heen.
- Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
- Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well
Cool things about Sheila
- She was named a Lecturer on Law at Harvard at the ripe old age of 26.
- She has an amazing knack for caricature.
- She was born in Iowa, raised in Nebraska, and rode horses as a girl.