I was preparing material for a workshop on CRC cards and stumbled across an interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell (author of "The Tipping Point") in the New Yorker. The article shows that working with index cards is a sensible strategy for collaborative exploration and the article goes on to debunk the myth of the paperless office. I was reminded by a talk Chris Matts gave last year at eXtreme Tuesday Club when he told us about how in his work as a business analyst influenced by XP, he used documents as "teaching aids" supporting rather than constituting knowledge transfer.
In XP we sometimes refer to the "Bus Factor" (aka Truck Number) to support the practice of Collective Ownership. How many people could be run over by a bus without any impact to your project.?
Martin Fowler just gave a farwell talk at XP2004 conference, andrecollected that when XP was new in 1998, having worked on the C3 team was important. At that time XP was transmitted by osmosis from person to person who worked on this project but the XP community has come a long way since then. He noted that at XP2004 he was the only person present who could claim the honour of working on C3 and so quipped "it wouldn't matter if the whole of the C3 team got run over by a bus!".
It appears that the practice of Collective Ownership has helped the XP community get over the guru era.
When people make negative comments that is usually cause for reflection and you will probably try to find out why. However, when your boss praises you for good work - think about it - do you know what you did right? Even with positive feedback it helps to dig deeper and learn from the experience. You might guess what you did right but do you really know?
The first step in receiving feedback effectively is to ask for some more details. Maybe try "I'm glad you like my presentation. It would help me improve my future presentations if you could tell me some more about what aspects you liked " and hopefully you will uncover why you were appreciated.
I just finished reading Marshall Rosenberg's book on Nonviolent Communication. One of the communication techniques covered is how to give empathy.
Some of the behaviours that block empathy are the giving advice, sympathy and retelling similar stories that happened to you. Instead, the key is to reflect back what you are hearing the speaker say by sensitive paraphrasing of what you understood. When doing this you try to uncover the feelings and needs that underly the statements you hear and repeat them back to the speaker with no judgement.