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SPL Meetup: Giving & Receiving Feedback

We’re starting a new strategic product leader meetup for those who have been through our courses or are interested in our work. It is currently invite only and intended to be small and personal. If you’re interested in attending, reach out to us at

Last night, we had a first our trial run and we discussed giving and receiving feedback, (both personal and product-based).

The two key takeaways from the group were about:

1. Safety

2. Self-advocating, value-based feedback.


If you’re a living, breathing human- being then giving and/or receiving feedback likely produces stress for you. Feedback (whether you’re giving it or receiving it) can make you feel that your safety, dignity, or belonging is under threat.

Under this stress, we may feel aggressive, defensive, overwhelmed, or helpless and in that we may fight-back, appease, disconnect, or just grin and bear it. When this happens, we don’t necessarily give or receive feedback in a way that grows the relationships or improves the product. By being aware of our own level of safety and supporting safety in the other person, we set the stage for feedback to actually have it’s intended consequences.

There are lots of ways to do this. One small example: making sure both parties are aware of the discussion, relaxed, and have plenty of time.

Self-Advocating, Value-Based Feedback

Many times we give story and judgement-based feedback when we really need to be advocating for what we need or value in the relationship or in the product.

For example; Let's pretend you work with a designer on a project and they constantly come by your desk to ask questions and interrupt you while you are working. This causes you stress, makes you feel frustrated, and limits your ability to do any deep thinking. In that stress, you develop a story about the neediness of the designer, how they don’t know enough about the customer or the product, and how they aren’t a self-starter or an independent worker.

You can give them this feedback and try to be as skillful as possible OR you can understand that you have a need or value that isn’t being met. You need time to do deep-thinking and you value not being interrupted when you’re doing that.

Knowing this, you can now make a request of your designer based on your need RATHER than your story and judgement. You might also realize, your designer really values collaborative thinking and that is what drives their behavior.

Together you might brainstorm how you can work together in a way that meets both of your needs and values. Self-advocating, value based feedback is much more likely to build trust and relationships than story and judgement based feedback.


Let us know what you think of these two tips. Drop us a note if you used either and tell us how it went. Your example may show up in future blogs or workshops.


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