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Listen to the “Good” Feedback at Work

Listen to the “Good” Feedback at Work
    Feedback Experiment from Sune P on flickr

    You received glowingly positive comments about your presentation from several colleagues, but when one person said something critical, you obsessed about that comment for days and ignored all of the positive feedback.

    Does this sound familiar?

     Beware of Cognitive Distortions

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    In the mid-twentieth century, renowned psychologists Albert Ellis and David Burns popularized the notion of cognitive distortions, or exaggerated thoughts and irrational beliefs that make us feel badly.

    One such distortion is the mental filter, in which you pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it, so that your vision of all of reality becomes darkened.

    Another related distortion is known as discounting the positive. You reject positive experiences by insisting they don’t count. If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn’t good enough or that anyone could have done as well. Discounting the positive makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

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    Both distortions are at work in the person who lets positive feedback go in one ear and promptly out the other.

    In the case of cognitive distortions, you are your own worst enemy. Things might be going better than you think, but because you have set yourself up to focus on the negative, your work situation seems hopeless and doomed.

    Here are some recommendations for prompting your mind to listen to, actually hear, and properly process positive feedback from colleagues:

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    Tune into Your Awareness

    Over the next week or two, pay attention to the situations and comments that automatically instigate an emotion. Jot down your thoughts about these events. At the end of the monitoring period, look at the tone of what you’ve written. Have you recorded mostly negative thoughts and feelings, as in: “I was annoyed when John didn’t use my statistics in the meeting”?

    Note if anything positive happened in addition to the negative, as in: “Though my statistics weren’t used, the meeting participants were asking me questions about the project instead of John, so obviously they knew I was the expert.”

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    Record the Positive

    Every time you receive a piece of positive feedback, either in person, through e-mail, or secondhand, write it down. For the next two weeks, keep a running list of every detail that reflects well on your performance. Your list might look something like this:

    • “Sara had no changes to my communications memo.”
    • “Ken sent an e-mail thanking me for putting together a great client meeting.”
    • “Eric told me the team would be lost if it wasn’t for me keeping an eye on the details.”
    • “Bethany overheard the executive director saying that I was in the running to accompany him to the conference.”

    Accept Compliments

    We tend to brush off compliments in a variety of ways. We might deflect praise to others when we really deserve it ourselves. We also might chalk up the good outcome to luck, or tell the person giving the compliment that we were “just doing our job” or that “it was nothing.” In addition to being unfair to ourselves, this reaction makes the other person feel silly because we are refuting their honest opinion.

    Instead of allowing compliments to fly immediately into the wind, own them. Accept that you did something worthy of praise and should be recognized for it. Politely and assertively say “thank you” and resist the urge to be embarrassed or utter something that totally negates the thanks.  Then, add the compliment to your positive feedback journal, which you should keep in a handy place for quick reference on those dark days when negativity threatens to envelop you.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

    You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

    1. Connecting them with each other

    Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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    It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

    2. Connect with their emotions

    Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

    For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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    3. Keep going back to the beginning

    Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

    On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

    4. Link to your audience’s motivation

    After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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    Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

    5. Entertain them

    While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

    Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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    6. Appeal to loyalty

    Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

    In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

    7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

    Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

    Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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