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Study Finds Kids Who Play Well with Others Are More Likely to Succeed When They Grow Up

Study Finds Kids Who Play Well with Others Are More Likely to Succeed When They Grow Up

Everyone knows that it is important to be social than asocial, but a scientific study has shown how important social behavior and play can be from an early age.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, aimed to look at the importance of noncognitive compared to cognitive skills of problem solving and academic abilities. Past studies have shown that there is not much correlation with high levels of cognitive ability “measured through IQ or test scores alone” and workplace success.

However, noncognitive skills, such as self-control and positive attitudes, do have a correlation. As the researchers observed, “a key characteristic of noncognitive ability in young children is social competence.” The researchers decided to analyze young children’s social ability and see how it correlated towards their eventual development.

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In 1991, kindergarten teachers in four locations spread out over the United States ranked over 750 of their students on social ability with a scale of 1 to 5. These scales included measurements such as “cooperates with peers without prompting,” “is helpful to others,” and “very good at understanding feelings.”

For the next 19 years, the researchers kept track of the students using self-reported information, information from teachers and parents, and court records. Among other factors, they looked for records of substance abuse, arrests, and employment and educational background.

At the end of the 19 years, the researchers found that those children who ranked higher on the social ability scale as kindergarteners were more likely to have obtained a college degree, attained full-time employment, and run a successful company. They were less likely to be dependent on alcohol or have a criminal record compared to children who ranked lower. This supported previous research that examined long-term prediction of the importance of noncognitive skills.

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As a caution, the researchers noted that this single study is not enough to declare that an absolute relation between early child social development and general success in life. But it is clear that a child’s noncognitive abilities are just as important, if not more so, than his problem-solving abilities.

What does it all mean?

So what do the results of this study mean for parents? It means that parents should consider re-prioritizing the importance of their child’s social and emotional development.

Parents take their children out to activities and camps to improve their intelligence, or give them skills which may be useful on a college application. But the most important thing that a parent can give a child is not necessarily additional piano lessons. It is the ability and opportunity to play with other children — a skill which will improve their social skills and their lives.

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The importance of play is something which researchers have known for some time. A 2007 study declared that “play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.” In addition to the physical benefits of play, undirected play helps children gain independence and learn about the importance of group activities.

But this does not mean that parents can let their children loose among other children and call it a day. That carries the risk of referred to as a “negative development spiral.” If a child ends up rejected by his peers, he may decide to become more isolated. This makes the child less likely to cooperate with his peers, which means that he will experience further rejection, leading to a dangerous spiral of isolation and rejection.

In addition to the risk of isolation and rejection, another problem is that one child may choose to learn from another who is not “well-behaved”. This can lead to anti-social behavior which will hurt the child’s emotional development over the long run.

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Because of this, a strong parent-child bond is necessary. Parents have to keep an eye on their child to monitor social development. However, parents also have to ensure that they do not end up smothering the child in the process — instead, allowing them to play with their peers in a healthy manner.

Staying “close, but not too close” is an incredibly challenging process, and every parent will make mistakes doing this. But in a world where parents have become too focused on developing “skills” which do not truly help the child, a focus on total emotional development is a great step towards rearing a well-developed, stable adult.

Featured photo credit: David Robert Bliwas via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 3, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

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