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What you seek you will find

March 1, 2018 Leave a comment

Broaden and Build Theory

What you seek you will find – If you are looking for problems you will find them.  If you are looking for positives you will find them.

I see every day the instant impact that positivity or negativity has on individual and collective outcomes and trajectory.  I frequently coach my students to frame goals as something they want to achieve rather than something that they are hoping to avoid. For example: “I hope I master this course content and get a good grade” vs.  “I hope I don’t fail.”

By focusing on the positive you can feel your entire body change.  A student when talking about possibilities tends to sit up more, make more eye contact, smile more, and  has a visible energy.  That same student when talking about his/her fears becomes not just mentally but also physically closed off.  He/she will slump down more in the chair, has a harder time making eye contact, sometimes I even see nervous twitching like legs shaking etc.

Dr. Frederickson talks about the amazing impact of positive thoughts in her Broaden and Build theory.  This theory illuminates exactly what I have witnessed in others and what I feel in myself when faced with a challenge.

In order to ensure that you are supporting a work/study environment that promotes creativity and innovation, it is important to work hard to protect and encourage positive emotion and perspectives.  One way that I do this is ensuring that when we are working as a team on resolving a problem or improving a service, that we focus first on un-analysed idea generation.  By protecting the brainstorming process from the negative emotion that can result from instant analysis, we are helping people to feel safe in sharing ideas, broadening the thoughts and actions that we will consider, and generating an upward spiral of energy and creativity that is more likely to result in multiple good options.

I recognise that, particularly in a university setting, there can be a strong desire to analyse and critique everything as soon as it is put on the table.  However, if the desire to point out flaws, impracticality, budgetary constraints, etc. can be delayed until a second stage of consideration, then you are allowing for a cross pollination of ideas, and for people to feel open to sharing. You can reassure all involved that we will get to the analysis stage; we can look at all the data points you like, but just not yet.  Furthermore, this focus on the positive not only assists in the short term idea generation and problem solving, but also ensures that as a team we have longer term success, well-being and resilience.

Can you think of a time when you were sitting in a meeting and you or someone else had an idea that was instantly shut down?  “Well we tried that last year and it didn’t work” . . . “We don’t have the budget for that” . . . “There is no way the administration will approve that” . . . . How did you feel?

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Advice on Giving Advice

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

communication roadblocksI am sure that you have experienced a time when you turned to a friend, family member, or colleague when you were upset or frustrated hoping that you could share with him/her what was bothering you only to receive an earful of unwanted advice in return.  Rather than feeling heard, you felt irritated and disengaged.

I was at a course called Leader Effectiveness Training (LET) just a couple of weeks ago and we were learning about how we can avoid these common communication roadblocks.

The first step, which we so often get wrong, is to identify who actually owns the problem.  For many of us, our first instinct is to jump in and try to solve the problem for the other person.  When we care about someone or about the outcome of a situation, we want to take ownership of that problem.  In doing this we are not taking the time to actively listen and are not empowering the other to come up with a solution.

I find that this is most common with people in a position of authority such as, organizational leaders and parents.  There is a deep investment in finding a suitable resolution, so the leader/parent steps in, takes over, and solves the problem.  The difficulty with this scenario is that even if the issue is resolved, the person who originally experienced the problem has no further insight or ability to deal with similar situations when they arise in the future.  If we, instead, engage in active listening, avoid some of our strong natural instincts to advise, reassure, or analyze, then we send the message that we are here to support and listen and empower the other to find an approach to the problem that is his/her own.

Taking this approach can be both liberating and rewarding.  Instead of having to own and, therefore, resolve every issue that is brought to your attention, you enable others by trusting that they have the capability to develop and execute on a resolution.

So the next time that someone approaches you with a problem try to first bite your lip and allow him/her to own the problem; instead, listen actively to what he/she is saying.  As they taught us at LET many of the things that we naturally want to do in that moment can make the other person feel like he/she is not being listened too.  These are called communication roadblocks and include:

  • Ordering
  • Warning
  • Moralizing
  • Advising
  • Using Logic
  • Criticising
  • Praising
  • Labeling
  • Analyzing
  • Reassuring
  • Questioning
  • Avoiding

For further insight on why these are roadblocks and how you can avoid them, visit: http://www.gordontraining.com/leadership-training/do-you-use-the-dirty-dozen-when-you-communicate/

http://www.gordontraining.com/leadership-training/leadership-training-do-you-give-advice/

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