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7 Ways To Stop Your Life From Becoming as Clichéd as a Hollywood Movie

7 Ways To Stop Your Life From Becoming as Clichéd as a Hollywood Movie

Each time I watch a Star Wars movie, I am taken back to my childhood. I can remember lying on the carpet, in front of the television watching it and getting lost in its “space world”.

Last weekend, as I sat down to watch the latest Star Wars movie for the first time, my thoughts were filled with the anticipation of years of build up, the wonder if it would live up to my expectations and that feeling “Am I in for another “Phantom Menace”?

I vividly remember walking out of the theater with a smile as large as a rainbow after the rain. It was all that I had hoped it would be. Thinking back on the experience, I now realize that during the movie, I found myself able to recite the lines before they were spoken, and easily able to predict the outcome before it happened.

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As I took in the drama, action, and the inevitable lightsabers, it felt like I had watched this same thing many times over, all before I had watched finished watching this latest version.

Did you know that Hollywood utilizes only a handful of themes to produce all of its movies? Neither did I. This led me to wonder about my own life. Is my life as predictable as a Hollywood movie that anybody watching could recite its lines as they happen and guess how it will end before it does?

The short answer? Maybe. You and I both know that we tend to live our day-to-day lives on autopilot. How then, can we prevent this from happening?

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1. Live Each Moment As If It Was Your Last.

I know that this sounds cliché, so bear with me. Imagine a world where you know you aren’t going to wake up the next day. If you knew that, what would you do with your time? Would you watch television? Play video games? Sleep? Spend time on Facebook? Or would you find a way to do all the things that you want to do, but haven’t accomplished yet.

2. Take Risks.

Risks are scary. I get that. As far as I am concerned, living a risk-free life is scarier. Risks will make you feel alive. You don’t need to scale a mountain or jump out of a plane if that isn’t your style, but make sure you do take some risks that are more to your style.

3. Don’t Procrastinate.

By procrastinating you are only cheating yourself out of what you are truly capable of doing. How will you ever know what you can accomplish in life if you continually say, “I’ll do it tomorrow”?

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4. Do The Opposite of What Is Expected

How many times have you heard that you are predictable? Me too. That all changed when I decided to make a conscious effort to change the way I react to situations or come up with solutions. Not only will you take others by surprise, but more importantly you will surprise yourself.

5. Let The Bad Guy Win

We all have a voice inside our heads that tells us what to do and what not to do. Usually, this voice keeps us out of trouble. However, tragically, it can prevent us from becoming great. Occasionally let the other voice win and see where it takes you.

6. Don’t Spend Your Life Chasing The Uncatchable

How many movies have you watched where one person spends their entire existence in pursuit of something, only to:

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  1. Finally catch it and live happily ever after
  2. Be unable to catch it and live happily ever after

Pay special attention to number 2. Your life is not dictated by anything, nor should it be. Spend your life, in pursuit of YOUR life.

7. If You Can Win The First Time, Then Win. Otherwise Don’t Be Afraid To Lose.

I can only speak for myself, but winning is amazing and losing, well, isn’t. When given the option of winning or losing, I will always choose to win. There are times when this isn’t always possible. Occasionally, we must lose. If you do, be sure to embrace it wholeheartedly. Use your failures as an opportunity to grow even better. Keep trying and you will eventually win. But, don’t be afraid to lose what wasn’t meant to be.

If, after all of this, you still feel the need to model your life after a movie, at least pick something that people would enjoy watching. Something like Star Wars (minus the prequels).

Featured photo credit: Pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on December 4, 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

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