EQ Leadership Formula Model

What can the dinosaur extinction teach us? Read here.

I’m always fascinated to hear what CEOs have to say about leadership – when they pull back the curtain and reveal their thoughts and feelings, what’s going on behind the scenes for them.

Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, talked of dinosaurs!

Asked how different he is as CEO compared with 30 years ago when he was studying finance and accounting at university he says: “Hopefully that version of me is now quite different— and not only in that timeframe, but also between now and 2017 when I took on this role. Being able to take in new situations and reimagine and reinvent yourself, to me, is part of life. The alternative is ossification, and that’s not a good thing. It didn’t help the dinosaurs, and it doesn’t help us.

I’m in the process of reimagining myself. I’ve accepted I’m a writer (an award-winning business book helps 😉). I am not a video presenter, I don’t like doing videos and I’m pushing myself to embrace that for an upcoming event I’m doing with @Sue Belton. It’s having me stretch myself with practical things such as smile more, pause, don’t talk to fast, look at the camera, and remember you’re co-presenting. It’s having me challenge my beliefs and work through my preferences for static, quiet activities.

Reinventing, and at least reimaging, one’s self is fundamental to the Self-Awareness portion of Emotional Intelligence. It starts with knowing yourself and your emotions. Understanding yourself will help you know the aspects of yourself that serve you and those that don’t. The ones that aren’t serving you anymore might point to a risk of ossification.

The key tip to doing this is booking time with yourself regularly. This is called leadership reflection time. In this time ask yourself some of the following questions:

• What’s needed from me now? This might be related to a specific situation or individual or in your role.
• What feedback have a received recently?
• What feedback should I seek out?
• When did a have a strong emotional response? What
• What skills, qualities or characteristics are my strengths that I can leverage even more?
• Given where I want to go as a leader, where do I need to stretch or grow?

Want to avoid extinction?

Have you found yourself stuck in your ways?

What changes or new situations are you facing?

If you or your people are avoiding Difficult Conversations join us on our FREE Masterclass “How to have Difficult Conversations in the Workplace.” Reserve your spot NOW here

What’s the Problem? You’re not Discussing the Problem!

What’s the Problem? You’re not Discussing the Problem!

Are you putting off having a difficult conversation?

Have you avoided talking to someone because you were scared to do it or afraid of their reaction?

Has someone complained to you about another person, instead of talking to the person directly?

You’re not alone.

80% of people are shying away from at least 1 difficult conversation at work according to a poll from VitalSmarts¹. If you read that statistic and thinks that can’t be right, here’s another research result. According to Inc.², 7 in 10 employees are avoiding difficult conversations with their boss, colleagues, and direct reports. Other studies show similar results, the clear majority of people avoid having conversations with other people. I sidestepped these talks in my corporate life sometimes, it felt too awkward to face things head on. My coaching clients often label these “Difficult Conversations.” Funnily, when we label them difficult, they often become difficult, even if just in our minds.

What’s the definition of a difficult conversation? It’s a conversation where differences appear to exist between the people; needs, wants, expectations or opinions might differ; emotions are heightened; or there’s a fear of emotions coming into the situation. They are difficult because of the emotional element.

The problem goes further than just avoiding having the “difficult” conversation; people go to extreme lengths to avoid it! That same VitalSmarts’ research reported people waste time and energy to dodge those conversations, to the point of quitting their jobs!

Instead of having that difficult conversation, people will:

• Avoid the other person at all costs (50%)
• Dance around the scary topic whenever they speak to the person in question (37%)
• Consider quitting their job or taking a different job (37%)
• Quit their job (11%)

HRMorning³ reported of an online poll that found 85% of people have problems dealing with a problem in the workplace immediately. What they did instead of dealing with the problem was:

• ‘ruminate’ about the issue (61%)
• complain to co-workers about it (41%)
• feel angry (34%)
• do extra/unnecessary work to avoid dealing with the issue (32%)
• avoid the person involved (29%)
• ‘talk around’ the topic (24%)
• feel sorry for themselves (20%), and
• drop hints to the individual involved (20%).

None of these things are productive, in fact they are counter-productive, negatively affecting productivity.

If people are avoiding the other person or dancing around topics, how productive is this in the workplace? Collaboration and interaction are needed in most jobs to deliver the required business results. If someone is avoiding another person because of a difference in opinion or expectation, is the business getting the best results? Are people contributing their best ideas and coming up with the best solutions? The answer most certainly is NO. If people are quitting their jobs to avoid these conversations, what’s the cost in recruitment fees alone? There must be a better way.

Good news – there is a better way. Stay tuned.

¹ Reported in Crucial Learning by Brittney Maxfield October 2019
² Inc. Most People Handle Difficult Situations by Ignoring Them — and the Fallout Isn’t Pretty by Michael Schneider August 2018, research by workplace resource start-up Bravely.
³ HRMorning: The hidden cost of delaying those ‘difficult conversations’ by Tim Gould 2010

Photo by Yan Krukov

What do you want to do with your one wild & precious life?

What do you want to do with your one wild & precious life?

I was reminded recently of this line from the poem, The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver. We do only have one wild and precious life, which is a big lesson from the last 2 years (don’t worry this isn’t article about the pandemic).

Think back to a time that you amazed yourself. When you surprised yourself with something you could do or something you achieved. Pause here because I’m sure there’s at least one thing, and probably lots of things, where you’ve gone outside your comfort zone or what you thought you were capable of. It might be something you trained or prepared for, it might be something that happened spontaneously. I invite you to stop reading and reflect please – a moment for which you are proud of yourself.

It might be running a race, having given birth (a friend’s contemplating this as her due date looms ever nearer), landed your dream job, created works of art, gone open water swimming in winter (that’s on my weekend’s agenda, crikey) or solved a Wordle in only two tries (I think first try is just a fluke).

For me it’s having written and published my book! I’m acknowledging it because it’s the two-year anniversary of its launch. My how time flies. More time will fly by, what do you want to create for your wild and precious time?

I didn’t set out to write a book. I took a 10-day book proposal writing challenge offered by a book coach to see if my idea for a book had any merit. After 10-days my completed proposal excited me, ignited the possibility of a book, motivated me to think “what if?” The book coach, a brilliant marketer as well, offered me a discounted book writing boot-camp course. I took that and never turned back. In some ways I just followed her process which lead me to the professionally edited, first draft of a book, my book.

Two years later I am an award-winning published author, gobsmacked to write that. I don’t say it to brag. I say it as evidence you too can do something you didn’t plan on or think you could. The next two years are going to pass regardless of whether you create something wild and precious or not, so what if?

Do you ever imagine what if?

Are you wondering is this it or what’s next?

What’s one thing you’d dare to dream of for yourself?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how to help set yourself up for greater success and satisfaction next year.

Setting Annual Goals? How To and Why It’s Important.

Annual Goal Setting? How To and Why It’s Important

Executives and managers are talking about annual objectives for next year. I’m working with a leadership team on their kick-off for the year – aligning behind the strategy, goal setting, and identifying tactics to achieve those goals. I’ll also be working with my business partner on our goals for next year – both as individuals and as business partners. We’ve been defining our vision and annual objectives together for years now.

This exercise is appropriate for work or life goals, for organizations or individuals.

Why Is Goal Setting Important?

You might be wondering what all the fuss is about in terms of annual objective setting. Why should you bother? Here are a few reasons why having goals and objectives is important:

• Gives us something to measure performance and success against,

• Creates accountability within ourselves and externally if necessary,

• Helps organize time and resources in a consistent direction,

• Focuses all involved towards a specific area,

• Provides motivation and a sense of achievement,

• Triggers new behaviours,

• Grows confidence as we progress towards them, not just when we achieve them,

• Promotes positive mental health.

Year End Review

If you didn’t read my previous blog about conducting a year end review, do that step first by clicking here, Annual Goals? Step #1 is Conducting a Year End Review. It’s hard to decide where you are heading if you don’t know where you are currently!

How to Set Annual Goals

These initial questions are different than your typical business projection exercise or creating a list of ‘to-dos’ (there are less creative questions/more direct at the end 😉). The idea is to envision success and then work backwards to identify what needs to be done to achieve it. This is how most organizations do their vision to goals process. Be specific about your goals – think about how you will measure your achievement of them as well as what they are.

• Imagine it is January 2023 (yes, one year further in the future). Reflect back on the past year, what would make you proud to have accomplished? Think of all aspects of work and life. This focuses on the DOING of the year, what you do and what you accomplish.

• From that vantage point of January 2023, looking back on an incredibly fulfilling and successful year. Feeling that pride and satisfaction, write a letter telling the story of how you made it happen. Write it as though your accomplishments were in the past, avoiding statements like “I will” or ‘I intend”. Get as specific as possible including your insights, ‘ahas’ (learnings), and milestones. Who did you become? How do you feel? Make it as exciting and vivid as possible. This focuses on how you are BEING during the year, how you feel and engage, how you want to BE to achieve what you want to achieve.

• What work goals do you want to accomplish? What are your boss’ goals and hence which cascade down to your area of responsibility?

• What are your financial goals for the year? How much do you want to make? What effort is required to do that? What investment or retirement or spending priorities do you have for the year?

• What relationships at work and personally do you want to create or foster?

• How do you want to feel physically, emotionally, spiritually?

• What aspects of your health are important to continue or improve?

• What personal qualities do you want to lean into more?

• What are you willing to give up to achieve your goals? Rarely do people look at ‘subtraction’ when they consider a change and it’s often a necessity. In today’s life you’re already busy with lots to do so don’t think about just adding more on. Think about how you can simplify. And what you give up might need to be a belief or mindset?

My goals for next year will be defined specifically on 7th January when I do our annual goal setting/’way of being’ exercise with my business partner. Some on my list to be fleshed out will be:

• Getting my award-winning book out to more people as the stories about how it’s helped people are so satisfying for me, win-win (number and ways of doing that tbd in January),

• Delivering our EQ Leadership Training to more companies (specific # tbd with my partner),

• Having even more fun and laughter in my life,

• Continuing my walking challenges, with one being more of a long-distance, multiple days walk in the countryside,

• Keeping up my French language lessons to hit 800 consecutive day learning streak.

If time and money were no object, what would your goals be for 2022?

What support would help you to achieve it, or some initial part of it?

What small step could you take towards that goal?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how to help set yourself up for greater success and satisfaction next year.

 

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Annual Goals? Step #1 is Conducting a Year End Review.

Annual Goals? Step #1 is Conducting a Year End Review

It must be that time of year – as numerous clients have brought it to our coaching sessions – annual objective setting, defining strategies and goals for next year. It’s great to have goals; organizations need objectives to measure performance and success. Goals help both individuals and business focus in a specific area, provide motivation and a sense of achievement. Psychologically goals trigger new behaviours, can focus the mind and life, provide motivation, grow confidence and are good for our mental health.

Before defining next year’s goals however, it’s best to reflect on last year. This reflection is good for a personal end of year review or an organizational end of year review.

Year End Review

Looking back on the prior year is necessary before creating next year’s objectives. It’s hard to get to a destination if you don’t know where you are starting from. Additionally, it will increase your motivation, provide context for the next year, and result in learnings to take forward. As John Dewey, the famous American philosopher, psychologist, educational reformer said:

‘We do not learn from the experience.

We learn from reflecting on the experience.’

The mere act of going through something does not create learning, fulfilment or growth. It’s through the act of reflecting on it, making meaning from it that allows us to feel satisfied, to learn, to grow and to understand all the ins and outs of that experience. It’s as if you try to go through a circus fun house blindfolded. You’ll have an experience, it just won’t be that fun or engaging with no lessons learned other than don’t do it blindfolded again.

Best Year End Review Examples/Questions

Answer each question in as much or as little detail as it serves you to do. Start by looking at your KPIs (key performance indicators), or metrics. Look at your diary to remind you what happened chronologically. Review your photos to remind you of your experiences. Pull out last year’s goal sheet. If you don’t have one, then do this exercise and the exercise from my next blog to have one for next year. Your child has a report card, shouldn’t you?

• What were your goals for the year? Celebrate those you achieved (builds motivation). What were the lessons from those you didn’t (creates learning and self-compassion)?

• What were your highlights from the year? Your biggest wins or achievements, the discoveries, milestones, adventures, joys, fun, celebrations, and/or opportunities that you want to remember. What are you most proud of?

• What were the qualities or resources that helped you towards those highlights?

• What were the challenges, issues, frustrations and disappointments this year? What are the lessons from those? What do you need to let go of or forgive yourself for in those?

• What were the qualities or resources that helped you overcome those challenges?

• What have I learned this past year? About yourself, your team, the business, competition, the client, the organization? Some prompts might be: “I realized how much I care about…”, “I now believe…”, “I understand why…”

• What new or existing relationships did you foster or develop?

• A legacy or purpose type question: How specifically did you make a difference in the/your world this past year?

• If you want to engage the right-side of your brain (creative not logical): If the last year was a chapter in the book of your life, what would you call it? What image or metaphor would you use for last year?

Personal Year End Review

All of the above questions apply to individuals as well as businesses and organizations. We have KPIs or metrics in our personal lives – income, weight, work/life balance, happiness, stress level, # friends, # holidays, etc.

Think about your all aspects of your life – authenticity, career, family, friends, significant other(s), health and wellness, purpose/contribution, financial, spiritual, fun, passion, physical space.
You can also do this exercise as a family (or team) reflecting on the achievements and learnings of the group as well as each individual.

What would you celebrate from the last year?

What did you learn in the last year – about yourself, leadership, life, business?

What does this reflection prompt for you about next year?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how to help set yourself up for greater success and satisfaction next year.

Photo by Marko Klaric from Pexels

Raise your Head above The Parapet? Lesson on Risk Taking

Raise your Head above The Parapet? Lesson on Risk Taking

Is this a good idea?

Do I risk raising my head above the parapet?

What will others think or say?

I felt this way two years ago as I was working with my publisher on my book. Who did I think I was to be writing a leadership book? Was this book even a good idea? Would it help people? What if no one reads it? What if it doesn’t sell? What if people don’t like it? And so many more questions and doubts.

I thought writing the book was hard, then I thought the editing process was hard, then I thought the design and layout was hard. In the end the hardest part was putting it out in the world – putting myself up for judgment – and not the good kind of judgment. I had the fear that it was a bad idea, it not being relevant, being ignored or worse maybe being criticized or ridiculed.
And I did it anyway. That old book from the 80’s, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, was my mantra when I was anxious and doubting myself.

Risk Taking in Business

This same trepidation about taking risks shows up in organizations. This was the discussion of a coaching group I led last week off the back of this question in their 360 reports “Willingness to be the only champion for an idea or project.” There was discussion about the reluctance to speak up in a high-pressure meeting for fear of making a mistake, looking stupid, or becoming a target. CEOs have the same fear of making a mistake (it’s the #2 fear behind fear of being found incompetent) from research by Roger Jones reported in Inc.com.

Calculated Risk Taking – Why is it important?

Organizations need risk takers – not foolish, impulsive risks – rather intentional and purposeful risks. Every organization claims innovation is a key strategy they need to succeed, to keep ahead of competition, to serve clients well. True innovation does not happen without taking risks. The key is calculated risk taking to mitigate any potential issues and increase the likelihood of success.

How did I Overcome the Fear and Take the Risk?

What I did to navigate the fear over writing and publishing my book are the same things you can do in organizations.

Identify why it matters to you. When you have a bigger WHY it’s easier to overcome the fear and doubt. Remind yourself why this idea or project is important to you and to the organization. Write it out, or draw it, post it close by to give you a vision. Putting my message out into the world mattered because it had practical tips for results-driven leaders that are actually simple. It mattered personally to me because the journey of being more motivating and inspiring rather than so task-focussed was my journey.

My book writing journey started with a 10-day book proposal writing programme offered by a book coach. The programme was designed to produce a proposal for my book for a publisher or literary agent. Writing that proposal felt a bit like the cart before the horse. Upon completion of that proposal I was more committed to my book than before. While articulating the audience for my book and the main ideas of my book in that proposal, it crystalized the vision and benefit of my book and that there was an audience for the models, tools and tips in my book.

Have support. I had the support of a book coach and was part of a book-writing group that supported each other through the process. They gave me input on the book content and also on my fears and worries. They shared their concerns which made me feel better about my feelings. We were a community of support, ideas and encouragement for each other which fuelled us forward. Find people who can support you with the content of your idea and with the encouragement to take a risk, people who believe in you and your ideas.

Realize it’s a process. Take one step, the first step. People often get overwhelmed when they think of the WHOLE, BIG PROJECT. Instead, think of one step you can do to advance the idea. Electric cars for example didn’t just materialize overnight, they were broken down into a series of steps, more accurately many series of steps. Focus on the step that is in front of you and take it one at a time.

Feel the fear. Emotions have information that can be valuable for us to know. When you feel something, notice the emotion and name it (there are many emotion wheels on-line to help you articulate the names of emotions as we aren’t taught emotional literacy at school). What is the message or information in the emotion? That emotion is data for yourself. For example, anxiety can mean you need more support or input to proceed. Frustration often means you have an unmet need so identify that unconscious need and ask for it to be fulfilled.

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Risk Taking

In organizations and even in families or volunteer groups, calculated risk taking is made easier if you build psychological safety. When there is psychological safety there’s the belief that one can speak up without risk of punishment or humiliation. You can create this by:

 Inviting questions and soliciting differences of opinions (eg. If you knew we couldn’t fail, what would you try?).

 Promoting self-awareness so people are aware of their impact, potential biases, and triggers.

 Offering multiple ways for people to input – verbally in a meeting, in the chat function of a VC, on post-its that are anonymously collected.

 Showing concern for people as people as it demonstrates your interest in them holistically and not just on the work-side.

 Shutting down gossip, backstabbing, and ridicule whenever it appears makes people know you have their backs.

Sticking my head above the parapet and publishing my book was worth it – this year my book, Soft Skills HARD RESULTS, won The Business Book Award for Business Self-Development!

What could you create if you raised your head above the parapet?

What impact could you have? Or others in your team?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how to help yourself and others take risks for greater innovation, trust and performance.

Have an Ambition Lurking in Your Mind? Don’t Procrastinate.

Have an Ambition Lurking in Your Mind? Don’t Procrastinate.

Kicking yourself for not learning a new language during lockdown?

Have a dream, goal or ambition sitting on the back burner? Or the back of your mind?

Have you ever had a dream and wondered ‘what if’?

“Don’t procrastinate” is a wish for you, not an order or accusation.

I sit here a couple of weeks from the (virtual) Business Book Awards ceremony shaking my head that I actually have a book out let alone being a finalist in the Business Self-Development category.

Two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. I had an idea, no know-how and little actual motivation or ambition to write a book. I hummed and hawed, thought a lot about it and did nothing. And less than two years later my book exists (Soft Skills HARD RESULTS).

There was no magic wand to get me from there to here. I didn’t all of a sudden feel motivated. It was a lotta luck, getting help and some self-awareness of works for me.
If you’re doubting yourself, wondering what if and giving up before you’ve started, don’t, you can do it too. That doubt is false. No matter how composed someone appears on the outside, like ducks they are madly flapping their feet under the surface to make progress.

How to Achieve Your Goals?

Imagine it might be possible. What would that be like? How would it feel? Feed the flicker of possibility before extinguishing it. Write a list of pros if it were to happen. Make a collage of what success looks like. A client yesterday said she diagrams the ideal state for her of her idea. Create a picture of success, dream it, our imaginations are powerful. Do this at a head and heart level – intellectually and emotionally.

Figure out what works for you. Does structure help you assess something? What helps you get things done in your life? Enact those things for your dream. Does accountability to others work for you? If so, find or create structure, be accountable to a buddy. I signed up for a 10-day book proposal writing challenge to actually see if there was a book idea in me because structure and accountability work for me.

Start with micro steps. What’s one thing that would progress your ambition? If learning a new language is on your list, a baby step would be downloading the language app, Duolingo. Another step would be to do a 4-minute lesson on the app.

Project yourself far into the future. Imagine you are 80-100 years old looking back on your life. What will you have wanted to achieve? How does this dream or ambition fit with the legacy you want to leave? Will you regret not having tried?
Seek out like-minded people. Find people who have the same passion or dream. Surround yourself with people on the same journey for the support, learning and companionship. Want to run a marathon? Join a running club. Download a podcast and training schedule. Learning from others that are either experts or ahead of you on the journey is an easier way to proceed.

Go public. Tell other people about your hope or dream. Firstly, by you saying it to someone else it’s no longer just living in your mind. And secondly, stating things to others creates accountability to delivery on what you said.

Make a plan. Having an objective, ambition or dream is great, we call than an outcome goal. Create some process goals to support that outcome. If you want to run a marathon – finishing the marathon is the outcome goal. Running consistently 3x a week is a process goal. You can often control the process more so than the outcome.
Make friends with discomfort. As you pursue a dream you might get scared, feel overwhelmed or doubt yourself. That’s ok. Everyone feels that way when we are going outside our comfort zones.

It’s natural to feel uncertain when pursuing something new. You’ve probably felt this on a new job, on becoming a parent, or learning a new hobby or sport. And you got over it.

Enjoy it! You are making steps to create your ideal life or at least pursue a dream. Enjoy it.

What is Failure?

The definition of failure is lack of success, not meeting a desired or intended objective. I think I disagree. Failure is not even trying. I like Thomas Edison’s quote “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The younger generation talks of pivoting; when you hit an obstacle, pivot to an alternate path to make progress. Your journey and progress do not have to be linear, most things in our lives aren’t linear and are still successful and fulfilling.

I have a whole chapter in my book entitled Living a Life of No Regrets. If you think you might regret letting go of your dream, ambition or potential goal, then don’t let go.

What one thing would you love to try?

Are you curious to investigate your ambition, even just a bit?

Read more of my journey about following my ‘hint of an aspiration’ by clicking here.

Why it’s Okay to Show Emotion (and even Cry) at Work

Why it’s Okay to Show Emotion (and even Cry) at Work.

Organizations, and if we believe stereotypes male bosses, often hold the belief that people should leave their emotions at the door when they come to work. Some leaders say business is logical, factual, and shouldn’t be personal. In working with countless organizations on leadership development and coaching hundreds of clients the truth is that organizations want and need emotions at work. The key is which and how to manage them.

Truth of Emotions at Work

When leaders tell me they don’t want emotions at work I ask, “you want them to leave ambition, loyalty, trust, calm and inspiration at the door?” Usually not. Organizations want those emotions and others (happy, grateful, practical), they just don’t want the ‘difficult or uncomfortable’ ones.

Crying at Work

Emotions such as extreme anger in terms of outbursts and sadness or frustration especially if expressed in tears are the ones people don’t want as they don’t know how to deal with them. We aren’t taught emotional literacy in school like we are taught language and numerical literacy. Hence, not knowing what they are (is loyalty an emotion? Yes) or how to be with them.

Emotions as Data

The idea that some emotions are welcome and some not highlights the belief that some emotions are good, and some are bad. Emotions are just sensations and data. Fear is good sometimes as It alerts us to danger. Anxiety is the belief something might hurt us, but we don’t know what, so it is good to keep us vigilant. Tears might be good to indicate passion/commitment or overwhelm and potential burnout. Many people report crying when frustrated at work. There are no good or bad emotions; they are just present. The key is how to use that data to improve your effectiveness in achieving the organization’s agenda.

Crying at Work

Crying in some work environments might cause others to think you are weak. Articulating verbally that you are frustrated, having the emotion below the surface in your voice for authenticity, can be very powerful. This is why storytelling can be so effective in motivating and inspiring people; it conveys and evokes emotion.
Depending on your environment if you feel the need to cry, do it in private. If you do cry in public, name it, what’s the emotion that prompted the tears. Be comfortable being with your own emotions and teach others with your example of how to be with them. Reassure the other person that you don’t need them to do anything with the tears, potentially you need them to do something about the situation if applicable.

Managing Emotions at Work

The key is understanding your emotions and eventually others’ emotions. What are the emotions telling you? How does that serve the work? What emotions do you want others to feel? What can you do or say to or how can you be with them to create that feeling? This is what can build trust, passion and loyalty. What emotion is someone feeling about a request you’ve made? Sensing this (or asking) will help you know how to influence them better.
It’s how you express emotions at work, how you influence others to feel and sense how others are feeling that is key to building your credibility, effectiveness and having the impact you want.

Do your emotions help you at work?

Do other people’s emotions throw you?

Click on the various free resources I offer on my website that I’ve listed here:

Gratitude Template

Creating Better Interactions

Giving Feedback Template

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore managing your, and others’, emotional responses further.

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How to Deal with Poorly Delivered Negative Feedback at Work

How to Deal with Negative Feedback (Ouch) at Work

No matter how well you perform at work everyone experiences receiving negative feedback (or at least they would in a learning or continuous improvement environment). Technically, feedback is feedback, we judge it as being positive or negative. All feedback, even positive feedback or the things we do well, is about improving ourselves even if that means continuing to do the good things we do.

Negative feedback can hurt. Our ego can be sensitive. It can go further and trigger feelings of shame or ‘not being good enough’ as some of my coaching clients experience. If negative feedback affects you in that way, then pay close attention to the BEFORE tips below to better prepare yourself (and consider working with a coach or therapist to get to the root of the issue).

Here are things you can do BEFORE, DURING and AFTER receiving the feedback (any feedback actually, positive or constructive).

BEFORE Getting any Feedback

1. Change your mindset about negative feedback. Think of it as constructive or developmental; meant to help you improve or be more effective (even if it’s delivered to you in a clumsy, less-than-ideal manner). Yes, this is a bit of mental gymnastics. Often, it’s said that feedback is a gift (imagine a beautifully wrapped box) think of it that way so when it comes you have that visual to ground you in the positive.

2. Identify what feedback would you give yourself. Proactively think about the areas you could improve to increase your effectiveness right now. Chances are you know the feedback others would probably give you (and sometimes we’re tougher on ourselves than others would be). What would you advise yourself to do differently to improve? How could some of your strengths help you make those improvements?

3. Reflect on your past experiences of receiving feedback. What did you think and how did you feel? What was it about that feedback that caused you to feel that way? What did it remind you of in your past? What did you tell yourself about that feedback? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider their perspective in giving you that feedback? It can often be what we imagine or assume about the feedback that threatens us, more than the feedback itself.

DURING the Feedback Itself

1. Listen. Breathe. Listen. Listen to understand not to respond or defend. Breath while you are listening to stay present and not become reactive. Try to understand what the other person is saying. My executive coaching clients find simply nodding signals listening and buys them time to compose themselves and put their attention on what’s being said rather than the icky feeling inside.

2. Ask questions to understand better. As Stephen Covey, the famous educator, businessman and author said decades ago, seek first to understand before being understood. Ask them to repeat it again (in case you didn’t hear it the first time because you were listening to the little voices in your head defending yourself). Ask for specific examples to help you understand. Ask, in a curious tone, questions about what they see or hear you doing that’s impeding your performance such as:

• What behaviours am I doing that aren’t effective?

• What am I saying that has that impact?

• What specifically would you suggest I do or say?

• How should I do or say it differently to improve?

These types of questions can even help people that are poor at giving feedback to be better.

3. Acknowledge having heard the feedback. Restate what you have heard so you can confirm you’ve received it as intended. Tell the other person you will go away and consider how to act on their feedback. Depending on the feedback, the situation and the individual who said it to you, you might want to say you will come back to them to talk it through further or share your improvements. Say thank you (even if it’s thanking them for just caring about your performance!).

AFTER Getting Feedback

1. Consciously decide where to “take” the feedback. This tip relates back to the idea of feeling bad about ourselves when we receive negative feedback. There are different “lens” through which you can “see” the feedback. You can see it at a behavioural level (hence, why you ask them what they see or hear you doing, to focus them on giving you feedback about behaviours). At the other end, you can see it at an identity level, that you are a bad person or not good enough for the role. A useful structure to help assess where to take (and give) feedback is below. Its origins are from The Logical Levels, a tool or model in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) developed by coach, consultant and trainer Robert Dilts and Todd Epstein. Focus on receiving the feedback at the outer 3 levels and ask questions to get the feedback at those levels.

Copyright Anne Taylor, Soft Skills HARD RESULTS, Practical Inspiration Publishing, London 2020

2. Decide what you will take on board. As with any gift, you can decide whether to receive it or not. Firstly, find the 2% truth in the feedback. You might not agree with anything the person is saying but often there is 2% truth in there somewhere. You had an impact, in the case of negative feedback, an ineffective impact. How that impact has been interpreted by the ‘giver of the feedback’ may not be entirely inaccurate. Putting your ego and self-doubt aside, what truth is in the feedback they are proposing? Secondly, decide if you will do anything with the feedback. Depending on the feedback, the situation and the giver of the feedback you need to consciously decide what’s best for you personally, for your performance and potentially your career. Lastly, if you decide all or some of it is relevant then develop a plan of action to improve it. You already have ideas from them when you asked what you could do differently to be more effective.

3. Follow up as necessary. You might want to follow up with the person that gave you the feedback to get more clarity by asking more questions. There is no harm in re-visiting it to understand more or to get suggestions on what to do better. You could also let them know what you are doing with the feedback, if anything. This very much depends on the situation, the feedback and who gave it. Some of the positives of doing this are: positively reinforcing that person to continue to give feedback, creating a feedback culture, showing you value them and their observations, and potentially having them think more highly of you as you take your impact seriously.

Remember, just as you might have struggled with receiving negative feedback others might too. Take that into consideration when you are giving feedback to others. Keep it focused on things they can change like behaviour, skills and capabilities. Don’t get personal, don’t give feedback at an identity level. Frame it as developmental and express your intention to help them improve their effectiveness. For more information on how to give feedback well see my blog, How to Give Constructive Feedback to Empower People.

What feedback would you like to address to improve your performance?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore feedback you’ve received and how you can become more effective, satisfied and successful.

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Why we feel zoom/video call fatigue & how to prevent it

Zoom Fatigue? What causes it and how to prevent it

Find you’re tired after a long day of video conferencing?

Noticing some dread at the prospect of jumping on another Teams meeting?

Zoom fatigue is a ‘thing’. We get tired of being on Zoom throughout a day. It’s not just from Zoom though, it’s from any video conferencing platform. Stanford University has conducted research¹ that concludes video conferencing is in fact wearing you out. Many office-based jobs have remote interactions that involve spending hours per day, even if not back-to-back, on video calls with others which will tire you out. The reasons in the research were from a psychological perspective, it’s about brain processing.

The researcher was quick to point out that this wasn’t meant to malign video conferencing, rather to educate and provide solutions so here goes:

Why does Zoom Fatigue Us?

1. Looking and Being Looked at.
We are looking at people almost continuously. People are looking at us almost continuously. Most people fear public speaking, often because of being scrutinized by others. It results in anxiety and fear. Yet video conferencing has turned us all into public speakers, even the audience members are “on show” or being looked at, potentially even when they are saying nothing. This means there can be an underlying sense of anxiety about being watched.

2. Disproportionate Head Sizes
That sounds weird I know. And if you are video conferencing with only one other person there’s a high likelihood their head appears on screen larger than in real life. Also, we usually only experience people that ‘close up’ if we know them intimately. It’s a closer sense of personal space then we would have with colleagues and strangers. Proximity often implies a force – either intimacy like romance or conflict with someone “in your face.” Our brain subconsciously processes this disparity and force versus what is ‘normal.’

3. Seeing Ourselves
It is not natural to stare at yourself in a mirror for long periods of time. That’s effectively what happens in many of the video conferencing platforms; our image is part of the view. It is tiring for our brains to continually process our own image. Other research does show that we are more judgmental or critical of ourselves when we see our image.

4. Restricted Mobility
Video conferencing restricts our physical movement as there is usually a fixed field of view for the camera. This is restrictive by definition. In-person meetings and audio calls allow more movement than video. Some emerging research is starting to show that cognition is better when we move.

5. Takes More Effort to Convey Messages
When we talk in-person it’s natural for our brain to subconsciously process body language and non-verbal cues and to project those non-verbal cues too. On video, we must consciously think about conveying those cues and transmit them. For example, in-person if we agree our head often nods in agreement without us having to think about it. On video, to ensure that agreement is conveyed through this medium we consciously decide to nod our head, maybe do a thumbs-up gesture towards the camera, maybe click on the ‘reaction button’ to say thumbs-up digitally and then we often want to check that our agreement was seen or received. That’s a lot of conscious thought. This brain processing is extra energy we do not have to expend in person, no wonder we are tired.

Top 10 Tips to Minimize or Prevent Zoom Fatigue:

1. Use audio only when appropriate. Just because we can video doesn’t mean we have to.

2. Do audio calls standing up, moving around or walking outdoors if possible occasionally.

3. Turn off your “self-view” if that’s an option on your video conferencing platform so you don’t see yourself. Or put a ‘post-it note’ over your image on the screen as another means of not looking at yourself.

4. Minimize full-screen views when videoing with only 1-2 people.

5. Take a break from screens in general. When you get off a series of video meetings to have a break, refrain from picking up your phone to check messages or scroll social media.

6. Move more, both on video calls and in general. Distance yourself from the camera so you can stand up and move around more.

7. When in long video meetings ensure there are proper breaks built into the agenda.

8. Periodically in long video meetings, when appropriate, turn off your camera for even a minute or two to be audio only to ease the burden on your brain processing. It’s analogous to putting your car in idle for a moment.

9. Look away from the screen for a few minutes, literally turn away, beyond just switching the camera off, to minimize the amount of visual stimulation you are taking in.

10. Set ground rules with your team or those you interact with about when to use video and when not to in order to increase everyone’s energy and performance.

Do you want to be more energized and productive at work?

Do you want your team to feel and perform better?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how you could improve your effectiveness as a leader in times of remote working and video conferencing.

¹https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/

 

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