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Why You Need 360 Degrees of Feedback to Get Promoted

Making it to the next level of career success can be a frustrating experience. I can remember sitting in my office, mired in middle management, wondering if I would ever be able to make the next step happen. It was a miserable experience. Yet when I discovered the powerful nature that 360 degrees of feedback can provide, I didn’t feel so stuck any more.

Here’s why: the best feedback you can receive won’t come from your family, friends, or your political allies at work. It will come from your biggest critics. Listen to what they have to offer and you may just find a new door is ready to open that you hadn’t seen before.

How Does 360 Degrees of Feedback Work?

I’m a pretty straight-forward manager. I know who likes me, who respects me, and who would rather see me on the first flight to Termination City. It was the last group that I decided to approach because I felt like they would be more willing to tell me the truth I needed to hear.

I’d always felt that I was very good at what I did. I could produce results. Yet when I brought my critics in for an honest feedback session where the gloves could come off, I discovered something that others perceived about me that was potentially holding me back.

Where I felt that I was confident, many felt that I was condescending. Where I felt like I was in control and a team leader, others felt that I was being dismissive of new ideas. And where I felt like I was driving my team forward to new heights of accomplishment, some felt like I was being impatient.

The bottom line that I got out of that conversation was this: many people thought I was trying to further my career at the expense of everyone else. It didn’t matter whether or not that I felt this was true – and it wasn’t true. But because this was the general perception many had about me, that perception would become a reality.

Why Having Diverse Feedback Is Important

William Wrigley Jr. is attributed to this quote: “When two men in business agree, then one of them is unnecessary.” It can be pleasing to have a team of advisors giving you feedback that supports your own point of view, but that can also give you tunnel vision when you look at the future.

You might think you’re finding success. In reality, you’re not finding anything but a lot of “Yes” people telling you what you want to hear.

So here’s what I did: I took those critics and I asked them to be my personal advisors. I told them to be brutally honest with me, but I also told them to be just as honest with themselves when it came to potential positives that I could be doing as well. After all, when people just focus on the negative, that’s what will only be found.

The results have been impressive. I may not have that promotion, but the communication throughout my team is better. I’m no longer arrogant in the eyes of most because more people understand who I am and what my leadership style happens to be.

And it’s all because I listened to the feedback from my critics.

Take the next opportunity you can to embrace your critics and take their feedback seriously. Then implement realistic changes based on what you’re told. When you’ve done that, come back and tell me what happened. I’d love to hear where you found success and what struggles you encountered during this process.

5 Ways to Add Mindfulness Meditation to Your Work Routine

 

Mindfulness meditation. It’s more than a business buzzword these days. It’s a practical action that anyone can take to experience better success in their job duties.

With the application of mindfulness meditation, an individual’s resilience, collaboration skills, and ability to lead are reinforced. And though the benefits are profound, I can tell you that experiencing these benefits isn’t always an easy process.

For mindfulness meditation to work, you’ve got to be willing to commit to the process with 100% of your personal energy. If you’re not “all in,” then the benefits will struggle to appear.

So how can each of us put in the time when we don’t have a lot of time in our schedules? I know there are days when I’m lucky to even find time to eat a sandwich. Here are some ideas that have really helped me be able to include mindfulness into my calendar.

#1. Take away the art of being “busy.” When I took an honest look at my schedule, I found that I was scheduling a lot of time where I was being busy instead of being productive. Since I felt like mindfulness meditation would make me more productive, I forced myself to remove the busy periods of time.

#2. Begin to delegate. I hate delegating. It’s not that I find it hard to let tasks go. I find that I don’t always trust those around me to do a good job. Can you relate to that? So I was brave. I allowed my admin to start reviewing my non-essential emails to let me know what was going on instead of reading through each message. This saved me more time each day than I’d care to admit – but it goes toward my mindfulness time today.

#3. Eliminate the negative self-talk. I’m so bad at this. “Good job, stupid,” tends to come out if I make a mistake. I’ve heard far worse from my colleagues. The only problem is that this negative self-talk enhances the guilt and anxiety we already feel because of failure. So, when we fail at meditation, the negative self-talk tries to show up. I’ll probably never completely eliminate my name calling habit, but by being more conscious about it, I’ve found that I’m more able to embrace mindfulness meditation.

#4. Incorporate it into other business events. When I really can’t find any time to meditate, I’ve found that most of my colleagues are finding a similar struggle on that day. Since my team gets together on a regular basis to discuss what’s going on, I’ve implemented the 5-minute mindfulness introduction. Before we begin the meeting, we have a group meditation session. It’s optional, of course, but it gives us at least a brief respite from what is going on and that helps immensely.

#5. Be realistic. I think this was my biggest mistake. At the very beginning, I expected – no, demanded – that I could make 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation work. Sure enough, it took me only 3 days to start finding excuses as to why I couldn’t make it work. When you’re realistic with your goals, you’ll be more successful. Period.

Mindfulness meditation can change everything. It allows you to connect with your job, your co-workers, and your family in new and exciting ways. How could you add just 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation to your routine today?

 

What It Really Means to Be an Active Listener

 

Ever had someone cut you off mid-thought because they just couldn’t hold their comments back? It seems to happen to me all the time – and even more so recently. The art of active listening seems to have gone away.

From my experience, being an active listener generally comes down to three traits in the eyes of most. You need to not talk when someone else is speaking, be conscious of your body language, and be able to summarize what has been said to you.

That might make it seem like you’re listening to the other person… but did you really hear what they had to say? Your Management 101 class would say that you did. I’m thinking that something may have been missed in translation. Here’s why.

#1. Active listening means more than encouraging silence.

When you’re listening to someone speak, there will be times when something might come up that is factually wrong. Or someone might need a moment to think about what it is they actually want to say. These moments deserve more than mere silence. I believe that in order to be an active listener, we must ask meaningful questions to challenge false assumptions or to break up moments of silence.

For example:

Them: “It’s so nice to know that the sky is always yellow.”

You: “I appreciate a daytime sky that’s blue with a yellow sun.”

#2. Active listening also means respecting the opinion of others.

I’ve found that the best active listeners look for ways to build up a person’s self-esteem. They seek out moments of confidence and then look to build upon them. This creates a safe environment for even more conversation to be had.

For example:

Them: “It’s so nice to know that the sky is always yellow.”

You: “I like the fact that the stars twinkle yellow in the dark night sky.”

#3. Active listening involves cooperation.

There must be a certain level of back-and-forth within the dialogue of a conversation in order for it to be meaningful. Have you ever noticed how much more rewarding a conversation happens to be when you know that you don’t have to be defensive about what you want to say? So many conversations today are competitive in nature. The goal in active listening isn’t to prove that your opinions are superior to theirs.

It’s to create a give and take so that it feels like you’re trying to help. I’ve found that trying to win an argument is pointless. Trying to listen for cooperative moments where mutual learning can happen? That’s when a conversation becomes rewarding.

#4. Active listening offers suggestions.

I like to call this the “plan of action” stage for active listening.

This is where you can give the other person in the conversation some feedback. Most people tend to talk when they need to vent their frustrations about something. Once they have finished discussing the problem and there’s a moment of silence, that’s your cue to know that they’re potentially receptive to a suggestion.

So suggest something. As an added bonus, if your suggestion calls for a specific action to be taken, then make the time to practice that action in some way.

Active listening isn’t a race. It is a moment for you to get to know someone else in a deeper, meaningful way if you create the structure which allows it. By following these steps, it becomes much easier to make that happen.

How do you apply active listening skills to your conversations?

How to Give Meaningful Feedback to Defensive People

 

They yell. They scream. They cry. Then they blame you.

I’ve been there far too often myself. Some people are constantly on the defensive. In order to give feedback to these individuals that is meaningful in nature, we must take their emotions into account.

Are they feeling fear or anxiety? Anger? Or maybe they are trying to cover up a mistake that they don’t want you to know about?

Negative emotions don’t have to create a negative outcome. With the right approach, it is possible for everyone involved to walk away feeling like they took something positive from the encounter. Here’s how you do it.

#1. Isolate the conversation. Defensive people tend to become more defensive if the conversation is happening in a public area. By isolating the conversation so that the feedback can be given in private, you eliminate the audience that can help to feed the negative emotions so they keep growing.

#2. Focus on the purpose of the conversation. People who are in a defensive mode are looking to counterstrike. You might have some solid feedback to give them, but they’re going to attack you at the first moment they can. The purpose here is to make sure you’re both working toward a solid outcome. Always focus on the end goal first – then focus on the steps that are required to get there.

#3. Keep yourself focused. I love stories. That makes it difficult for me to stay focused sometimes when a defensive individual is off on a tangent. I realize they’ve changed the subject, but I’m fascinated as to the outcome of that story. For the feedback to be meaningful, I’ve had to adjust my perspective. I must focus on myself. And, if you’re like me, you’ll feel more prepared when you stay centered.

#4. Do your homework. There are always people who will surprise us with a negative reaction. For the most part, however, you know exactly who on your team or in your life is going to respond defensively to the feedback you’re about to offer. So do your homework before the encounter, get some research done, and provide concrete examples of how other people in a similar situation have found success. Truth will always be an absolute defense in this type of situation.

#5. Engage the emotion. If you let negative emotions hover over your conversation, then that negativity will fester and grow. Don’t allow that to happen. A few calm words of acknowledgement can be enough to diffuse the negativity.

#6. Understand the reason behind the tears. I’m adding this one on a personal note. When I get really angry – like really, really, REALLY angry – I tend to cry. It’s because I’m trying not to explode my emotions onto the other person. I clench my jaw, I picture chucking a coffee pot at that person’s head, and I say nothing while a few hot tears stream down my face.

That’s a very different emotion compared to someone who cries because they feel like they can’t get anything right.

If you approach crying in the wrong way, you’re only going to make the situation worse. So double-check the emotions before you decide on the right way to offer the needed feedback.

It’s also a good idea to deliver difficult news at the end of the day. A negative situation in the morning can fester into a full-blown disaster by lunch. By giving people the chance to cope in their own comfortable spaces, you’re giving them a chance to eliminate their defensiveness over time.

How do you handle giving defensive people the feedback they need? Have you implemented these methods? I’d appreciate hearing about your experiences, no matter what your results may have been. 

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