PARAGON PONDER POINT 5: OBSERVATIONAL FEEDBACK
Some of the best feedback you will get is from that what you observe. Even if we are only half aware we take in observational feedback all the time. The trick is to do something about it. We shake hands with a neighbour at a function and he avoids eye contact. When we get home our teenage daughter leaves immediately and goes to her room. An old friend does not respond to our repeated messages to return our calls. Every day people are giving us feedback through body language, their response time or other behavioural clues. These moments are plentiful and with some training we can discern patterns and start doing something with the feedback we receive. Discussed below are some ways to get feedback by just being a bit more switched on.
For one day pay attention to the comments people make about you. Write them down. At the end of the day split them into positive or negative remarks. Look at the negatives and see if a pattern is emerging. Do it the next day and the next. Do it at home too. Eventually you will have enough data about yourself to establish the magnitude of the challenge before you. The positive aspect is that you have received this feedback from family, friends and colleagues without them being aware of the fact that you are responding to their feedback. Have the courage to search for the persistent negative. By using this technique you are tuning in to judgement and purpose – two powerful weapons.
Pick any one thing that you want to get better at. Then list all the positive spin-offs that will materialise if you achieve your goals. It is quite a simple exercise, but very powerful. For example: “If I get into shape, I will live longer, I’ll feel better about myself, be a role model for my children, fit into my “thin” clothes, have more energy, sleep better, be a better spouse, etc.” At first this may feel like a strange way to give yourself feedback, but it works. As the list of benefits grows, they become less expected- they go beyond the obvious. It is when they become more personal to you that you know you are on the right track, that you have chosen the right thing to fix. This technique is called retrograde analysis – that is seeing the end result and then identifying the skill you will need to achieve it.
Have you ever been amazed at some of the comments your friends make about themselves, and know that is exactly opposite the way they really are? It is one of those odd pieces of reverse psychology where it seems that the stuff people boast about turn out to be their worst weakness. When someone brags that they are always on time, or always return calls – more often than not the opposite applies. You are not immune to this. Listen to what you brag about the most and pay attention to what you hear. There might be something there that needs some work!
Feedback: tells us what to change, not how to change it. We will pursue this in later articles.