October 10, 2011

All Ears

Welcome back to The Happy Homunculus!  If you want to get better at anything, then this week of Daily Mind Games will scratch you right where you itch.  We're all about information this week.  Specifically, our goal is to collect information about ourselves.  Yes, the name of the game is feedback, and if we want to improve at life, then a Week of Feedback is what we need.

Getting feedback can be painful.

Is ignorance really bliss?  Perhaps in the short term.  Hearing criticism is painful: we are learning about what is wrong about ourselves.  This information can be tough to hear because we have, in a way, failed at something. We did something imperfectly and that stings, especially if we put a lot of effort into that something.

But, in the long term, feedback (or criticism) is a gift. We are getting valuable information about how we might improve. Especially if feedback is specific, about a particular, easily modified behavior.  Then, it's easy to make the small change needed to get better.  When someone has the guts to confront us about a failing, it is an opportunity to become more self-aware.  The only thing preventing us from looking at criticism in this way is our own, crappy thinking.

In order to ever get and use feedback, however, we have to first hear the feedback.  And that requires listening.  If we react to feedback, or any information, by just talking immediately, then we aren't getting anything new.  Instead, we're giving information back.  So, let's practice being selfish by listening as much as possible:

All Ears

Task: Listen more.

Info: I like thinking about talking vs. listening as giving vs. taking.  When we talk, we are giving away information.  We are accessing information that exists somewhere in our brain and communicating it to someone else.  However, when we are giving information away, it's unlikely that we will learn anything new.  Only when we listen can we acquire new information that can influence our thinking and behavior. So, today, try to speak as little as possible.  Instead, really listen to what other people say and resist the urge to interject or argue.  Listen to what others have to say for one day.  Of course, if a social situation seems to warrant a response, feel free to speak as needed!

Goal: Maximize time spent listening.  Minimize time spent talking.  10 Extra Metacognition Points for each time you listen to criticism without speaking in return.

Listening skills are a critical component of emotional intelligence.  Check out Working with Emotional Intelligence for more insight into the cognitive capacities that make for peak performance.

Additional Resources:

http://www.reneevations.com/emotional-intelligence/feedback-self-disclosure/
http://www.yourvoiceofencouragement.com/2011/09/are-you-willing-to-listen-to-feedback.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2011/09/15/daniel-goleman-on-leadership-and-the-power-of-emotional-intelligence/

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