Posts Tagged With: positive feedback

Day 2398: Get in touch

Yesterday, when I was getting in touch with many feelings about saying goodbye to four members of the Northeastern Society of Group Psychotherapy board of directors (who had completed their three years of service), I noticed this on my phone:

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It’s true that, in my work as a group therapist, I focus on making it easier for people to get in touch (with themselves and with others).  However, I doubt that adding a phone number to Oscar the cat’s Facebook page will make it easy for people to get in touch. Oscar doesn’t answer the phone, although by touching my iPhone yesterday he somehow managed to delete four important apps:  Waze, Wallet, Google, and Notes! Thank goodness it was easy to get in in touch with Apple support and recover those apps.

Soon after getting in touch with Apple support,  I supported people in a Coping and Healing group getting in touch with thoughts and feelings about positive feedback. Here’s what I touched on yesterday as I filled out my own Positive Feedback worksheet.

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Are you in touch with

  • how you tend to respond to compliments and other types of positive feedback?
  • positive and appreciative things people have said about you?
  • positive things you have recognized in yourself?

It’s time to get in touch with my other photos from yesterday.

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To help us get in touch with what we wanted to say at the Board Meeting last night,  I transformed that F-bomb into a “Farewell” bomb that people could touch as they were speaking.

Get in touch with “Get in Touch” by FireHouse:

 

You can get in touch with me in the comments sections, below.

Every day, it’s easy for me to get in touch with my gratitude for all, including YOU!

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 286: Duck Test

According to Wikipedia,

The duck test is a humorous term for a form of inductive reasoning. This is its usual expression:

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

The test implies that a person can identify an unknown subject by observing that subject’s habitual characteristics. It is sometimes used to counter abstruse arguments that something is not what it appears to be.

This morning, I was remembering somebody quoting the Duck Test, many moons ago.

It was a facilitator at a two-day Opening the Heart  workshop, which  was attended by around 70 people. (That’s a large group, people.)

He was describing, to us all,  the final exercise of the weekend.

I remember that guy.  He was a gentle-looking fellow, with a beard.

Because I struggle with detailed visual memory, I’ll turn to my old standby, Google Images, for some help in describing him.

This is the first person that came up, for “gentle looking fellow with a beard”:

Image*

Really.

Anyway, the facilitator at the workshop (who actually DID look a little like that guy, above),  explained how the exercise would work.  He told us that we would form two large circles, half of the people on the outside and half the people on the inside.

Like this:

Image**

 

As the circles of people moved, stopped, moved and stopped again, we gave and received authentic feedback with each other.

I remember the facilitator making these two important points, regarding the feedback we would hear:

  1. What other people say to you, about you, usually has to do with THEM.
  2. However, if you hear the same things over and over again, that’s probably about YOU.

And that’s when he quoted the Duck Test.

I remember, having this thought, in response: ‘He’s gently and effectively giving guidance about how to hear negative feedback.”

What I didn’t consider, back then:  His guidance applied to positive feedback, too.

As I’ve confessed before, I (like many other people I’ve met) can struggle with believing positive feedback, no matter how many times I hear it.

I could expound, at this point, about the first Cognitive Distortion on this list:

  1. Negative filtering (also known as “Disqualifying the positive”).
    This is when we focus on the negative, and filter out all positive aspects of a situation.  For example, you get a good review at work with one critical comment, and the criticism becomes the focus, with the positive feedback fading or forgotten. You dismiss positives by explaining them away — for example, responding to a compliment with the thought, “They were just being nice.”

 

However, I’d rather end by returning to the duck test:

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

I’d rather end that way, especially since my reply to this (old standby) question

“If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be?”***

is this:

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Really.

Thanks to Opening the Heart,  ducks everywhere,  people who wear unusual hats,  givers and receivers of feedback, and to you, too, for reading today.


* From Reddit: Here’s me wearing a rejected kitty hat.

** From Google Images, again.

*** From Saturday Night Live: Father Guido Sarducci

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Day 30: If you think something positive about somebody, let them know, dammit.


Note: This is another blog-inated version of a chapter from a book I’ve been writing. The working title for this book is “AFOG: Another F***ing Opportunity for Growth.”

So here’s another lesson I keep learning over and over again.  People just don’t hear enough praise.

Most people I’ve encountered seem to concentrate most of their energy on the negative. They notice what’s wrong, in themselves, in others, and in their environment. And that makes sense, on lots of levels.  “If you fix this, things will improve.”  That might seem like the most effective way to survive and succeed.

Noticing and naming mistakes and flaws — with no recognition of the positive  — can be effective…

….. if you’re running a factory of machines.

So you see my point here.   We’re not machines. And with people, a constant focus on what’s not working can backfire. It can have the opposite effect. Too much emphasis on mistakes and criticism — without a balance of positive acknowledgement — can deplete people and make it harder for them to do well.

So here’s my proposal.  Let’s do what we can to try to restore some balance here.  If you find yourself authentically thinking or feeling something positive about somebody, tell them.  I’m willing to guarantee something:  They’re not hearing enough of that.  And on some level, they’ll like it.  They might feel uncomfortable, especially if it feels unfamiliar, but that’s a discomfort that’s important to face.

When I work with people, one thing I often ask them in a first interview is how they feel about praise. (This is important to ask, because I will probably be giving them some honest feedback,  which will definitely include some positive observations.)  I often hear this response:  “I’m not good with praise.”  But nobody has ever said to me anything like, “Whatever you do, don’t give me any authentic positive feedback.”

So I do offer that when I can. Because, really, what’s more therapeutic than that?

One of my Therapy Heroes is Michael White.  Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Michael White (29 December 1948 – 4 April 2008[1]) was an Australian social worker and family therapist. He is known as the founder of narrative therapy.

I got to see Michael White speak.  It was wonderful. And I remember him inviting the audience to do what I’m writing about here.  I wish I could remember his language, because he was a terrific speaker.  The way I remember what he said is this: If you are thinking something positive about somebody, let that person know.  Don’t assume that they know.  It’s a helpful thing to do, for you and for the other person.

And I remember taking that in and wanting to apply it, that very day.  I remember waiting in line to tell Michael White how wonderful I thought his theories were, how much I loved using narrative therapy with my patients, how much I had enjoyed his talk, and so on.

Strangely enough, I can’t remember whether I ever got to tell him.  it’s possible I did.  It’s possible that I couldn’t, because so many people were waiting to talk to him, that I didn’t get a chance.

But what is important is that I heard him and it changed me. I decided that day to express authentic positive thoughts when I had the opportunity.

So, at work, if somebody tells me something positive about somebody else and expresses appreciation for what they’ve done, I make it a habit to pass that on directly to the person.  I’ll write an e-mail to somebody and say, “I just heard so-and-so say this particular thing about you, and I just wanted to let you know.”  I don’t know how other people take that.  Maybe they think I’m trying to suck up to them.  Maybe they think I’m sickeningly sweet.  Who knows.

I don’t care. I’m honoring Michael White and my own value system.  And I’ll do that whenever I can.

Thanks for reading.

© 2013 Ann Koplow

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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