Finding Gems In The Rubble: How to Keep Listening During Upsetting Conversations
The Owl and The Beetle: Thursday Memo
As a director of product engineering, I overviewed over 30 people in five teams and had countless feedback conversations with my reports. In my career, I received multiple performance reviews that puzzled me on how to improve and grow.
Most of the time, they appreciated my work without giving me enough elements for improvement. Other times they pointed out areas of improvement but in ways that made them impossible to elaborate effectively.
I also had heated conversations with both my reports and my managers. I cannot say those strong arguments lacked information, but I realized that emotions were taking over, and precious information was lost.
This lack of actionable feedback was frustrating. I wanted to grow, but I didn’t know how!
At some point, I decided to take the matter into my own hands, and instead of asking for better feedback, I started working on my ability to receive feedback to find gems in the rubble.
This essay is about the principles I distilled in 20 years of my career, and it answers these questions:
What is feedback, and why does it matter?
Why is it essential to master receiving feedback?
What prevents you from understanding what other people say about you?
How to keep listening during upsetting conversations.
Let’s get going!