Posts tagged ‘feedback’

April 24, 2012

Don’t Judge a Book……

This weekend, I went down to the bay for a birthday party for one of our family friend’s four-year-old daughter’s birthday party. When we drove up to the picnic area, I noticed a “Biker Gang” in the picnic area next to us. There was loud “hip hop” music blasting on the sound system. Every few minutes, the air became full of the thunderous noise of another group of ten or more bikers arrived to the park. As we started the birthday party, there were at least 75 “bikers” at the park.

We have many brain processes that focus on survival. One of these brain processes is “heuristics”. Heuristics is a basic problem solving strategy that uses a limited amount of data to generate a conclusion. This is helpful for survival since we need to respond immediately to any pattern that looks like a threat. For example, if we are outside in the mountains at night and hear a sudden noise, we need to instantly decide if that noise is a group of deer moving away from us, or an approaching mountain lion. If we decided to spend extra time to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the noise we heard was a mountain lion, it may be too late for us to get out the “threat zone”.

Socially, we are also programed to look for threats. We instinctively see people that have more similar characteristics to ourselves as not being a threat and those that are more dis-similar as being “outside our tribe” or a possible threat. Unfortunately, we may use this “heuristic” to evaluate people when there is no obvious threat. If we are in a social situation where there is no indication that someone is out to “do us wrong”, we need to use our conscious mind to suspend judgment.

At the Birthday party on the bay, I consciously reflected on the common cultural stereotype of a person that hangs out in a biker club. People typically imagine that people who associate in biker clubs as rough and tumble folks that are up to no good. When I decided to suspend judgment, I noticed that these guys had a bake sale, and a “bounce house” for the kids. One guy that was associated with the motorcycle club drove his ice cream truck to the motorcycle club meeting. Every “biker” that I spoke with was open and friendly. One of the “bikers” offered to help me move my Kayaks to the water. My kids had a good time with the “biker” crew. They were able to jump in the bounce house, they got cookies from the bake sale and they got ice cream from the ice cream truck.

As the old saying goes “you can’t judge a book by its’ cover”. Some times you need to gather more data to see the common humanity in all of us.

April 20, 2012

Get Back on The Horse!

On Day 18 of the “Habit Change Challenge”, life got in the way. I decided to stay up late playing “Ping Pong” with a couple of friends. When I got home, my youngest child kept me awake the remainder of the night and early morning since he had difficulty sleeping. I chose to sleep next to him so he would feel more comfortable and sleep better. Since I did not get much sleep, most of the night, I decided to sleep in to 7 AM. Therefore, I did not exercise or meditate in the morning. In the evening, my wife and I had a birthday party to go to after work. When we got home, I feel asleep with my youngest when I put him to sleep. So, I on this day I strayed from the habits of logging my gratitude, successes, meditating and exercising.

I almost made it! I hope that if you took up this challenge that you are still going. If this is a competition, I hope that you beat me.

I am not a victim of certain circumstances. I made decisions about life priorities that allowed my new habits to fall into the background. I chose to spend time with people that I do not see as much and I had a lot of fun doing so. I had a great time playing games with my friends and going to an adult birthday party without my kids. I choose to prioritize sleep over my target habits. The sleep that I got felt good! I do not feel badly about the choices that I made these last few days.

I am “jumping back on the horse”. I am not giving up on my new habits. I am starting over with the resolve of going another 21 days of being consistent exercising, meditating, listening or reading affirmations and logging my successes & gratitude. I have made progress and I choose to reflect on my “setback” as “feedback” instead of “failure”.

From this setback, I had a few thoughts about “falling off the horse”:

  • 1)   Get back on the habit as soon as possible!
  • 2)   Look at the larger goal of what you want to change
  • 3)   View the break of habit as a “blip on the screen” and start over
  • 4)   Commit to the new habit “one day at a time”
  • 5)   Avoid letting the exception become the rule! If you break a rule once, do not think that it is OK to do it again since you are already “off track”.
  • 6)   Focus on how awesome it feels to keep moving forward towards you goals instead of any possible shame of making a “mistake”
  • 7)   Analyze what happened that lead to you getting off track and use that feedback to get back on track
  • 8)   Forgive yourself!

Remember, the ultimate goal is to appreciate all the good that is a part of your life and make choices that bring more opportunities to appreciate what you have. Have fun with your own adventure!



April 9, 2012

Failure Vs. Feedback


Most people fear failure. There are many things that I have not tried in my life since I was afraid of “failing”. Fear of failure can cause “action paralysis” where people do not even try something new or something out of their comfort zone. There are a lot of cultural references that reinforce a negative association with failure such as the common phrase  “Failure is not an option”.

I want to be careful not to overgeneralize. Of course we want people to do their best to make goods, services and infrastructure as safe as possible. No one wants airplanes to fall out of the sky or for buildings to “fail” due to poor construction.

The importance re-examining the concept of “failure” is that “failure” can be looked at as a form of feedback about our performance.  For example, if you “failed” a math test you could a) review the test answers to see which concepts you need to study or b) you can view yourself as a “failure” who is not good at math. The first option is most likely to lead to a better grade on the next exam.

When we set personal goals on where we want to achieve in our lives, it is important to be flexible in our thinking and realize that when things do not go exactly how we imagine they would, that these situations provide feedback on how we may need to adjust our plans to move forwards. When we acknowledge the feedback that life provides, we are more likely to move forward and continue to perform actions towards attaining our goals.

Our feelings about “Failure” are often connected with our internalized beliefs about ourselves. It is very important to reflect our your personal beliefs and move away from beliefs where we see ourselves as “failures”.

April 1, 2012

I am Accountable (Day 1 Habit Change Challenge)

Here is an affirmation for Day 1 of my Habit Change Challenge

I am accountable for all of my decisions.

I am in control of all my actions.

I am in charge all of my responses to my daily life events.

I am responsible for all of my assumptions that can affect how I respond to others in my life.

I am accountable for the result of the messages to others either through my words or through my actions.

I am responsible for seeking feedback from all those in my zone of influence.

I am in charge of my sense of satisfaction, happiness, gratitude and appreciation.

I am in control of the story that I write for myself on a daily basis.

I am accountable for my perception of life.


March 21, 2012

Giving Feedback

I would like to joke and say that feedback is “better to give than receive”. However, as we stated yesterday, feedback is very important for us to optimize our own performance.

Sometimes, we may hesitate giving feedback to others since we are unsure of how they will react to it. Will they be appreciative of the feedback?

Will they be defensive to the feedback? Will they respond so negatively that the relationship may be damaged?

Things to consider:

1) Is feedback desired by the recipient?

Before giving feedback to someone else, determine if the other person wants to hear it. For example, if a friend is telling you about a difficult situation, that person may be “unloading” or telling the story for catharsis. In this case, feedback about that person’s role in the situation would most likely not be welcome.

Them: “John came home last night and we got into a huge argument! He said that he was sick of cleaning up after me!”

You: “Hmm, maybe you spend more time cleaning up after yourself”

Result: FAIL!

2) Is it your role to give feedback?

In the work situation, it is almost always appropriate for a supervisor or manager to provide feedback to people in  “subordinate” positions. However, there are a lot of questions to consider when determining if it would be appropriate for you to provide feedback to your supervisor or manager? Do they really want your feedback? Would your feedback reflect negatively on you in the future? What is the price of you remaining silent versus you providing feedback?

3) Use the “Hamburger” approach

Back in my college days when I was a peer counselor, we always encouraged the “Hamburger” approach to giving feedback. The buns are compliments; the meat is the issue that needs to be discussed. Compliment first, feedback then end with a compliment.

 “Hey Bob, I always like the fact that you take reports home to finish them. I know you may be pressed for time, but you may need to slow down and look for typos. I appreciate that you always focus on the content of your work.”

4) Frame points of feedback in the form of a question

People often do better with new or challenging ideas if they feel that they have thought of the idea themselves. Asking questions encourages the listener to create a visual image of a possible situation. Questions can guide the listener to consider his/her own performance and can work well for people who have high ego investment.

5) Keep the feedback about the issue at hand

When you give feedback, it is best to make it clear that you are discussing an issue/idea/event that is separate from the person that you are talking too. Instead of stating “you did this”, consider saying, “when this happened”. Sometimes it is valuable to stand next to someone and look at a visual representation of the issue together. For example, you could hold up a report and state, “in this document, there are a few typos.”

6) Avoid Always/Never Language

When you user the terms always or never in your feedback, you have a good chance of the listener feeling that that have already failed and there is no chance of improving. The terms always/never can make the recipient feel judged or attacked. When others feel attacked, they may likely “shut down” or go on the counter-offensive.

7) Avoid over using “Why?”

If we use “why” too many times, it can sound accusatory to the recipient of feedback. Just think back to your childhood. Imagine how many times your parents asked you the accusatory rhetorical question “why can’t you clean your room” or “why can’t you be more like _____” If you use too many “why” questions with your feedback, the other person may hear “why did you mess up” or “why can’t you do things right”.

Remember feedback should be of some use to the person you are providing it to. When considering giving feedback to another person, imagine how you would feel if you were the recipient. We cannot control another’s reaction to feedback, but surely can control how it is given.

References – My thanks go out to the following sites for inspiration

March 19, 2012

Responding to Feedback at Work

I submitted a work report to someone with authority to review. Although I submitted the report by e-mail  to get feedback on the content, I received a responding e-mail with the bolded words “there are several typos throughout”. However, the overall quality of the report was deemed to be accurate.

There are multiple ways that we can choose to respond any situation. For the best possible outcome in this work situation, I was appreciative for the feedback and used the feedback to correct my report.

It is beneficial to let others know that you are appreciative for any feedback they give you. Other people can provide us with a unique perspective that can help our performance (such as catching typos in your drafts).

When we receive feedback, it is important to keep our ego in check.I have to admit that I had a moment where my ego got involved. The e-mail statement “there are several typos throughout” was copied to five of my colleagues! I read through the entire document twice and found (only) two mistakes!

Luckily, I was able to keep my ego in check. I realized that I need to work on editing my own work since I have difficulty seeing the details. I asked another co-worker to look at the document and they found about 6 small errors. If I listened to my ego, I would not have been open to additional feedback.

When we receive feedback that we interpret as “negative”,  the ego / story telling mind can get a little carried away. These examples are exaggerated to make a point. This is what we do NOT want to do.

The ego can create stories imagining the intention of others

-“This person is trying to make me look bad.”

-“My colleagues can’t wait to judge me on this”.

The ego can create stories to defend itself.

-“I was tired when I wrote this report, it is understandable that I made a few mistakes.

-“I am more of a big picture type of person, these small details don’t matter”

If the ego feels very threatened, it may go on the attack. In this case, the ego will create a story line that justifies depreciating the source of the “threat”.

-“What does that person know, they are only a _________”

Yes, this is a silly example. This situation is minor. This is just a small “blip on the screen”. However, if we do not keep our “ego in check” and get a grasp on our responses to minor situations, we can create the proverbial “mountain out of a molehill”. For example, if I replied to the initial e-mail with some sort of “snarky” comment, I could have damaged rapport with many people.

When receiving feedback at work, it is important to:

1)  Acknowledge the positive! Sometimes we can overlook positive feedback if we receive just a little bit of “negative” feedback.

2) Consider if the feedback is valuable. Will this feedback help you achieve your goal?

3) Show appreciation for feedback. In most cases, someone has taken their own time to consider a product, report or project. Please thank them for their time.

4) Keep your ego in check!

Have a great work day!

March 13, 2012

The Complaints of Others

Yes, I would like a complaint free world. As I stated yesterday, I am still working on that complaint free me. We did conclude with the realization that only we can control our own habit of complaining. The “Complaint Free World” approach of moving a wrist band from one wrist to another is a great form of personal accountability to shape our own behavior.

What about the complaints of others? Since we can not control other people’s habits, we can only control our own responses. It is helpful to remember that we have different options when other people complain so we don’t fall into the socially accepted pattern of complaining ourselves.

The first thing that we should consider when a friend or colleague starts to complain to us is that person’s possible motivation to complain. Do they want to complain for the sake of complaining? Are they complaining because they are in a challenging situation and are seeking emotional validation? Are they complaining about a situation in the hopes that someone has a possible solution? The second thing we should consider is how close the relationship is of the “complainer” to ourselves. For example, if a stranger in front of us in a line starts complaining about how frustrating the wait is, we should not feel compelled to join the chorus of “this line is a pain”.

For the “constant complainer” that we know, it would be appropriate to acknowledge their concerns as well as setting boundaries.

“I hear your concern about the new procedures. I now need to finish my project before my deadline”.

For someone complaining about a life situation where they have no control and appear to desire some emotional validation, it would be appropriate to demonstrate compassion and understanding about their feelings. You are not obligated to complain yourself.

“I can understand how tough it is. I can only imagine how your are feeling right now. That seems to be a really challenging situation”.

One of my personal challenges is that I sometimes do now intuitively know the difference when someone is complaining about something just to vent and feel heard or if that person is seeking advice or assistance. For these situations it is beneficial to listen intently to the person’s concerns. When if feels appropriate, you could ask if the other person needs assistance in this matter.

I would appreciate any comments on how you choose to respond to the complaints of others.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

January 30, 2012

Patience, Practice and Persistence

Patience, Practice and Persistence

“Losing is just Learning to Win…” – Robert J Bautista

“Dont mistake slow progress for failure” – Mazemangriot

“There is no failure, only feedback” – Jay Rando

One of the reasons that intrinsic motivation is important for us to achieve our long-term life goals our complete a major project is that it may take a long time to achiever our goals. There are so many examples of people working for years for their “overnight success to happen.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote two different books that speak to this point. In “The Tipping Point”, we learned that for many new ideas, there is a point at which an idea goes “viral”. In “Outliers”, we learned that Bill Gates and the Beatles spent about 10,000 hours practicing the skills that made them famous.

If we love what we do, we are not dependant on success being just around the corner. If we quit, we have lost. If we practice, we learned from any feedback that we receive along the way to achieving our goals.

Success is enjoying the journey and experiencing gratitude everyday.

Practice what you love. Persist in your actions. Be patient for the possible rewards for your actions.

We can control our actions, our responses and what we choose to experience as success.