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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 October 13, 2020

    12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

    12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

    Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

    We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

    1. Compare Yourself to Others

    People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

    In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[1]. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

    Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

    2. Be Mean-Spirited

    People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

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    If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

    3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

    Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

    Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

    People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

    If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

    4. Dwell on Failure

    It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

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    People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset[2]. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

    For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

    Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

    5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

    People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

    Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

    6. Try to Please Others

    They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

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    7. Close Yourself off

    Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

    As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”[3]. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

    You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

    8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

    People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

    9. Fish for Compliments

    If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

    You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

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    10. Be Lazy

    People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

    This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

    11. Shy Away from Risks

    When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

    12. Gossip

    People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

    Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

    The Bottom Line

    Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

    If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

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

    Reference

    [1] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem
    [2] Brain Pickings: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
    [3] Forbes: Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better

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