For you, new and popular

An edit of newly added resources and those proving consistently popular among our partners' teams.
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Raul Aparici on mitigating impostor syndrome
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Kate and Catherine on pausing, for conversational space
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Kate and Catherine on intentional listening
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Kate and Catherine on questioning well
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Worksheet: Time Blocking
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Kate and Catherine on the coaching opportunity
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Matteo's coaching reflections
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Kas's reflections on listening and questioning well
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Time Blocking, and bringing some colour into your calendar
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Worksheet: Owning Feedback
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Making the case for situational flexibility as leaders
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eCourse: Difficult Conversations
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Mentors, Sponsors and Champions. With Abi Adamson
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Effective Allyship. With Abi Adamson
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What's your Privilege Pledge? With Abi Adamson
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Diversify your feed. With Abi Adamson
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Privilege reflections. With Abi Adamson
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Mindful toothbrushing. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Anchor dropping. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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5,4,3,2,1 — a mindfulness technique. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Urge surfing. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Everyday mindfulness. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Making room for emotions (and the weather). With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Letting go of emotions. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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How do you notice your thoughts? With Dr. Sam Akbar
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A coaching conversation around strengths
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eCourse: Confidence Mastery
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Daniel Goleman's Six Leadership Styles, explained by Louise Hedges
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eCourse: Mastering Delegation
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eCourse: Time Management and Prioritisation
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eCourse: Get SET with your Goals
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Perspectives on privilege, with Abi Adamson
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Neurodivergent Perspectives. Lexi Keegan in conversation with Dr. Anne Cockayne
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Neurodiversity know-how: The Spiky Profile explained
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Neurodiversity explained, with Dr. Anne Cockayne
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Neuroinclusion at work: Thinking about adjustments
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Neurodiversity know-how. Autism with Dr. Anne Cockayne
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Neurodiversity know-how. ADHD with Dr. Anne Cockayne
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Neurodiversity know-how. Dyslexia with Dr. Anne Cockayne
Micro-learning: Setting Better Boundaries
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eCourse: Practicing a Coaching Approach
Finding fortitude, and follow on experiments
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eCourse: Conscious Inclusion
Seven things to avoid when writing at work
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Five tactics for influencing those more senior
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Five powerful questions for adding impact and insight to your next interview.
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Try out the CAR technique, and upgrade your understanding when interviewing someone.
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Smart ways to frame questions in your next mentoring session
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Try the 5 Whys to invigorate your problem solving and add depth to your decisions.
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Course Pack: Effective Allyship, with Abi Adamson
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A three minute mindset exercise, to support a coaching approach
Try this deep listening exercise for deeper connection and better conversations
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Experiment with the BRAIN model for confident decision making and problem solving
Discover the impact a five minute favour can have on your relationships, and network building
Homework for Life: A ten-second daily ritual for noticing, capturing and practicing stories
Course Pack: Storytelling
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Practical storytelling principles from Bobette Buster's book — Do: Story
Evolve your 'inner mentor' — a short reflective exercise to focus your development, and the ways you can better support others
Experiment with a Springboard Story to communicate your change idea, and take people with you towards it.
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Course Pack: Natural Networking
Tone Policing - What it is, why it's unhelpful and how to helpfully notice it.
Coaching Criticism
Find the Coaching in Criticism. Things to try when feedback doesn't quite land
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The 4Ds. A practical framework for acknowledging microaggressions
Mindful breathing — the foundation of focus and flow
Channel that fly on the wall. Try some purposeful self talk to mitigate moments of doubt
Add some friction to your most common distractions
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Build belief by recognising small wins — Try a 'Done List'
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Make your next meeting a Silent Meeting
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Immediately build your confidence, with a 'Can-If' statement
To Think
Don't forget to diarise thinking time — experiment with a 'To Think' list
Smarten your approach to setbacks, by trying out a Setback Story
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Practice the principles of persuasion from 'Godfather of Influence,' Robert Cialdini.
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Six steps for finding focus and flow, with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in mind
Course Pack: Making Time
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Great questions to ask in coaching conversations, 1-1's and other curious contexts

Find the Coaching in Criticism. Things to try when feedback doesn't quite land

Feedback is crucial for our learning, growth and relationships. But it doesn't always come our way in brilliantly packaged doses; perfectly framed and easy to process. So tools and techniques for helping those 'feedback givers' to help us will always be handy. Here's one to experiment with.
Coaching Criticism
Illustration by Leon Edler

"You need to be more assertive"

Feedback can find us in some really confusing ways. And, however well intentioned, it can trigger all kinds of feelings too — many unhelpful when it comes to building a growth mindset and maintaining our resilience reserves.

Pull beats push

Training teams (and managers in particular) to give feedback more effectively is a start. But it won't change much if we, as the receivers, aren't able to properly process and absorb what's been said. And that's where the thinking shared here comes in.


Badly framed observations, surprisingly harsh performance reviews or 'funny' comments that may not even be intended as feedback can trigger us in different ways.

😡 In their highly recommended book, Thanks for the Feedback, Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone refer to three in particular -

Truth Trigger

We say or think: "That didn't happen", "I wasn't late", "No way did I speak over Marek in the meeting"

Relationship Trigger

We say or think: "Who is Chris to tell me how to deliver a presentation, I've been doing it for 10 years"

Identity Trigger

We say or think: "That's just not who I am", "Everyone knows I care how people feel, why would I talk over someone?"

Perhaps reading this, you're reflecting that you often do defend yourself on the facts, or that you don't like to receive feedback from people with less experience than yourself? Or perhaps you reject it in the moment, but over time consider things more deeply and come to realise that there could have been something in what they shared after all?

Either way, when we're triggered we often shut down, get defensive and stop learning. Not good for our growth, relationships and resilience.

“We each have two human needs: To both learn and grow; and to be respected, accepted and loved the way we are. Even though feedback facilitates learning and growth, it conflicts with our need to feel accepted. This is a key reason we resist it.”
Sheila Heen, Thanks for the Feedback

Know thyself...

The challenge isn’t to work out how to ignore these triggers. It’s to become more self-aware that they're happening in the background of our brains, and to learn how to extract beneficial learning from feedback, however it has come our way.

Here's a talkative technique to try.

Get curious, and separate the data from the interpretation

Participants share honest and striking examples of terribly clumsy feedback they've received in our workshops on the topic, while often acknowledging that they think it was coming from a 'good place'. But, understandably a complex combination of thoughts and confusion has been triggered.

Do any of these three examples feel familiar?

Their manager had said to them, "You energy is just all wrong at the minute". 
A senior colleague had told them that "You should definitely be asserting yourself more by now."
A colleague they worked with on a presentation asked, after they'd delivered it, "Why do you always make it sound like you've done more of the work."

Devoid of any context, indication of what specifically they've noticed, or any expressed concern for what might be behind the behaviour being shared, it's easy to see how someone could mentally check out of the conversation at that point.

The challenge, as difficult as it can feel in the moment, is to get into a curious state of mind and use probing questions to extract meaningful 'data' from the person who is not as skilled as you in these moments (of course you can point them towards our Owning Feedback workshop in due course). You're going to need to dig into a very general observation and try and discover the specifics of what prompted it.

Here's some of the language and suggestions of such curious questions, that come up in workshop discussion; ones that you could experiment with the next time you feel some confusing, triggering and energy zapping feedback coming your way.

"Wow that's certainly come as a surprise to hear, and thanks for sharing that with me." (Heen and Stone called the book 'Thanks for the Feedback' for a reason — acknowledging is a key step.)
"That's not a behaviour I've been aware of, can you help me understand by explaining what you're noticing?"
"Tell me more about what you're noticing. What specific times has this been happening?"
"Thanks for sharing that, that can't have felt great for you at the time. So I can better understand, can you walk me through what you saw?"
"So we're clear on what I can do differently next time, tell me more about your idea of assertiveness and the behaviours you'd like to see more of."

And into the future

Curious questions should lead into clarifying conversations. And with more data, and less subjective interpretation, we can decide to what degree we want to take specific feedback on board. More often than not there's some useful learning in there, and these kinds of open exchanges can hugely enrich relationships and change the way our managers and colleagues share feedback with us in the future.

When we recognise and name our triggers, resist knee-jerk reactions and dig into where feedback is coming from, we can create mutually valuable learning and make an informed decision on what we choose to change.

Who can you ask for some feedback today? And having acknowledged what you hear, what curious questions will help you dig deeper into valuable learning?

Keen to learn more?

Join a 90 minute experiential session on Owning Feedback to dig into more ideas and practices like this one. You'll find coming dates here.

And take a look at this 20 minute eCourse on Owning Feedback too.

More Resources