Thanks for the Feedback

Stop reading this blog right now.

I’m serious.

Click this link, buy a copy of Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Shiela Heen, and then come on back to finish reading this post.

This book should be required reading for anyone in the theatre industry. Actually, it should be required reading for anyone walking the face of the earth. It is that good. It is that essential.

Here is my well-worn copy:

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The book asserts that there are three kinds of feedback: appreciation, evaluation, and coaching. And we need all three.


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Understanding this one paragraph alone is worth the price of the book. And there are 300 more pages to go.

You can apply the idea of sorting feedback into its respective categories to any space in which you receive feedback: the audition room, the rehearsal hall, the newspaper, FB, your agent’s office… the possibilities are endless.

For our purposes here, let’s talk about the pay-to-play.

If you participate in pay-to-plays (my personal feelings about that are subject for a different post), knowing what feedback you are seeking is critical. Let’s be honest, folks, many of you are going to those “classes” seeking appreciation. You want someone to tell you that they think your work is great, that they think you are special, that they see how you have been busting your ass. I will save you the 100 bucks. Your work IS great. You ARE special. And you HAVE been busting your ass. If you need to hear it in person, come to my office and I will tell you to your face for free, hugs included.

If you are going to pay 100 bucks for 5 minutes of someone’s time, get clear about what kind of feedback you actually need.

  • APPRECIATION - “I could really use some words of encouragement.”

  • EVALUATION - “I’m thinking about bringing this song into the Waitress EPA. Does this piece make you think of Becky? And is my work competitive?”

  • COACHING - “I’m working on Becky’s song. Since you have spent so much time in the room with the director, I’d love to hear how I can adjust my performance to fit with her interpretation of this moment. Give me every possible note.”

Say this BEFORE you present your work. That way the person who is watching you knows what to watch for and how to help you get what you need.

Once you receive the feedback, it is up to you whether or not to actually take it. Not all feedback is relevant or valuable. Take what works for you. Toss what doesn’t.

Here’s a bit of feedback for you:

  • EVALUATION – You are a professional, which means you are ready to up your feedback game.

  • COACHING – Start by buying this book and then applying its concepts in order to cultivate the skill of taking feedback well.

  • APPRECIATION – Thanks for reading. You are the best.