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How To Provide Feedback Instead of Criticism

You’ve just worked hard for a week on a project at work. It’s finally finished and you’ve turned it into your boss. You feel great because the work you did was awesome… except your boss thinks differently. Are you about to receive feedback that can improve your work?

Or are you just going to be criticized in some way?

Criticism is often viewed as the best way to hold people accountable, but what it really does in this instance is place the blame on someone specific. Accountability should be about delivering on a commitment or a promise instead of the foundation of a blamestorming session. It is a thoughtful process which looks to encourage people to step up their game instead of tearing them into shreds.

You can’t control how your boss will react to the project you’ve just submitted, but you can control how you provide feedback to others. Consider these options instead of getting angry the next time you feel like there was a lack of follow-through on something.

#1. Make sure there are clear expectations that have been communicated.

The most common reason why something doesn’t get done to a certain set of expectations is because no clear definitions have been set or communicated. People need to know what is expected of them to be able to achieve specific goals. If they have to guess at what needs to be done, the results will almost always be inconsistent.

#2. The right people need to be doing the job.

Would you give an employee who just started today a project that is critical to the survival of your company the moment they walk into the office? Of course not. Yet this is what happens all of the time to workers today. They are given assignments that don’t fit within their skill set, but are expected to deliver as if they have a PhD on the subject matter. Criticizing someone who did their best on a project they weren’t really capable of completing in the first place will only create resentment.

#3. Let people measure their own performance.

When clear expectations are set forth, there should also be clear measurements in place that let people track their own performance. We are always our own worst critic. We all take pride in our work. Most workers will hold themselves above the measurements that are put in place because they don’t want to think of themselves as failures. Providing advice on how to help each worker meet those expectations is the best feedback you could provide.

#4. There must be expected consequences.

Once a project has been completed, you have three options available to you: reward, repeat, or remove. If you feel like the expectations laid out weren’t clear because there was a general failure across the board, then repeat the project with a clarified set of expectations. If the job meets or exceeds your standards, then reward the workers in some way. If the work didn’t meet expectations and you were clear about what needed to be done and the assignment was given to the workers with the right skill set, then change the roles of those workers.

#5. Keep an open dialogue.

When there are open lines of communication available to people, they’re more likely to discuss the challenges they face during a project. Saying that you have an “open door policy” is a cop out. People don’t just generally approach someone if they think it might get them into trouble. You’ve got to engage people consistently to make sure an open dialogue can be achieved.

Feedback helps people to grow. Criticism tears people down. You might not know how your boss will react when you submit your work, but by using these options, you can make sure you’re giving people the feedback they need.

5 Ways to Unlock the Potential of Your Weekend

For the world’s most successful people, the weekend is more than an opportunity to kick back and relax. It’s the chance to invest into different priorities. Instead of going into the office, checking emails every few hours, or taking business calls, the weekend is a chance to spend time with family and friends. It’s a chance to recharge for a new week of productivity.

Why is this so important? Of course your family and friends appreciate your time. Studies have also shown that once an individual works 55 hours in a week, their productivity levels decline to virtually zero. Someone who works 70 hours per week is producing at the same levels as the person working 55 hours per week.

Yet the weekend can provide some traps that can kill your future productivity as well. Avoid these traps and you might just find success knocking at your door.

#1. Sleeping In

If you have a sleep debt which needs to be erased, then go to bed earlier on the weekend instead of sleeping in. Because you get up later than normal for 1 or 2 mornings, you’re actually resetting your biological clock. This will make it much more difficult to wake up when the alarm rings on Monday morning. Get up at the same time every day and your mind will be ready to get some work done after the weekend.

#2. A Full 2 Days

Weekends deserve some adventure. They deserve some family time. What often gets neglected is the personal time a person needs as well. Try to give yourself some personal time in the morning when your mind is the most awake. Consider adding some meditation to this time as well. Then think about scheduling a day trip or a partial day trip with family or friends instead of a weekend-long adventure for best results.

#3. No Fun

You’ve worked hard all week. You should be able to have some fun on the weekend. There will always be dishes to wash, laundry to do, and repairs around the house which need to get made. If that’s all you ever do on the weekend and you hate doing chores, then you’re not having any fun. Those chores can be set aside for awhile so you can do something relaxing or pursue something you’re passionate about. Painting, writing, composing, long walks by the beach – forget the excuses and just go do it.

#4. Staying Connected

If you’re still plugged into the rest of the world during the weekend, then there will always be the temptation to work. You might be able to fight it off for awhile, but eventually you’ll cave in. It happens to the best of us. To make the most out of your weekend, try disconnecting yourself from all of your electronic devices. Burnout quickly happens when you’re forcing yourself to be on-call 24/7.

#5. Zero Preparation

The weekend is also a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past week. This reflection time allows people to prepare themselves for the week ahead. You don’t need to spend a lot of time in preparation – just 30-60 minutes on a Sunday evening will do. If you can make this time happen, then you can make the coming week a little easier to navigate.

Unlocking the potential of the weekend ultimately means letting go of your professional responsibilities. Think of it as a “mini-retirement.” Sure – there will be interruptions and emergencies that happen and will need your attention. What is more important is your mindset. If you can bring all of this together and give yourself permission to let things go over the weekend, you may find your productivity levels can skyrocket.

You Really Can Say No At Work: Here’s How You Do It

Your boss comes over to your desk with another project that needs to get done. You’re already working on three other projects and your co-workers each only have one. “You’re the only person I trust to get this completed on time,” your boss might say. “Will you add this to your pile?”

Your boss expects you to say “Yes.” In reality, you really can say “No” and not have to worry about your job. Here’s how you can make that happen.

Make Your “No” Be Well-Reasoned

Instead of an emotional reaction to the request to do more work, think about it from a practical solution. Using the example from above, you’ve already got 3 projects on your desk. Discuss with your boss the fact that you already have a lot of work that already needs to be completed. Talk about which work needs to take a priority. You might be able to shift the other projects to take on this new one, so you end up saying both “Yes” and “No” at the same time.

By taking a well-reasoned approach, you can show your boss the scope and scale of the work you already have. There’s a good chance that they don’t realize how much is already on your plate. This new work was brought to you because you really are good at what you do. Therefore, when you communicate more about what you’ve got going on, your professional life often becomes a bit easier to manage.

Take the Emotions of Your Boss Into Account

When you tell your boss that you can’t take on a new project, the rejection is going to create negative emotions for them. If there is no empathy for this natural process, then there’s a good chance the response you get back to your “No” is, “Well… I’m your boss and I’m telling you to get this job done anyway.”

Take a moment to step into the shoes of your boss for a second. Understand the difficult position they are already in and now you’re just adding to it. By acknowledging what is happening, your boss still isn’t going to be very happy, but they can cope with the negative emotions you’re creating for them.

Offer Up a Favor or Two

Maybe you can’t take on the full project right now, but you could consult with others on it for awhile. Could you attend a planning meeting? Read the first draft once it’s completed and lend your advice? Listen to others as they brainstorm ideas for what needs to happen? If you can offer up a favor or two, then you’re still saying “No” to the massive demands of a project, but you still get to be involved in it.

With that being said, your “No” must be authentic. You might be busy with 3 projects on your plate, but what will the boss think if you’re constantly taking breaks to chat with co-workers, text on your phone, or check your Facebook status? The boss will think you’ve got extra time on your hands. If you say that you’re too busy to take on another project, make sure that the perception you give others matches up with the reality of your situation.

Saying “No” requires you to be kind, but it also requires you to be firm. Be sure of yourself. Try not to be defensive. Be honest about what you’ve got going on. Make it clear that you won’t change your

5 Top Ways to Reduce Stress

Around the first of the year, most of us begin turning our attention to ways we can improve our lives. That is why January is considered one of the most stressful months of the year. Just trying to set and keep our New Year’s resolutions can be quite stressful. However, stress can happen at any time. Maybe it’s the meeting you’ve got with your boss at work tomorrow. It might be the roast that you just burned that has you dealing with stress. Whatever the cause of your stress might be, these 5 methods are proven to help you reduce the amount of stress you have in your life on a daily basis.

#1. Follow Your Passion

When your career path follows something you’re passionate about, it is a lot easier to combat the stress which comes with any type of work we do for a living. The love you have for what you do makes you mentally more resilient than if you’re just working to earn a paycheck. It’s also important to include habits you’re passionate about outside of work as well so you don’t feel like you’re 100% on call for professional demands.

 #2. Avoid Toxic People

Toxic people are around you every day. Unfortunately we can’t always avoid these people because they might be our family or friends. What you can do, however, is take a vacation from that toxicity. Take a break and allow yourself to decompress. Don’t let them talk to you, comment on your Facebook posts, or interact with you in some other way. Once you’ve had a chance to get away from that negativity, you can make a better decision about how often you wish to interact with these folks in the future.

 #3. Simplify

Having clutter is a guarantee that stress will be lurking around the corner. Clutter comes in many forms. You might have far too many clothes in your closet to maintain. You might have dozens of emails that are cluttering up your account. There might be a handful of voicemails you’ve been putting off hearing. Simplify your life, take out the clutter, and there won’t be as many worries that can cause you stress in the future.

 #4. Embrace Your Creativity

We often judge our own efforts at creativity against those who are better than us. Maybe you won’t be the next James Patterson or the next Picasso, but your creative efforts are just as important as theirs are. The goal isn’t to stress yourself out over the fact that you’re not making millions of dollars from your creative endeavors. You should be having a creative outlet simply because it is an easy way to deal with difficult emotions that can be the foundation for stress to build upon.

 #5. Learn To Say No

It’s hard sometimes to tell people “No” when they need a favor, but you’ve got to think of yourself first and them second. You can’t really help someone if you aren’t at your best. You’ve got enough stress to handle without trying to bear the stressful burdens of others at the same time.

These methods are proven to help you remove stress from your life. It takes time to develop these habits, so get started today and you’ll begin building a wall of resiliency that helps you refuse to have more stress in your life from now on.

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