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Communication

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Taking Work Feedback Personally

Many of us allow our identity to be tied to our work. We let our jobs define our self-worth. If we receive critical feedback for our work, we feel like our life is failing too.

When performance reviews are around the corner, it is worth knowing how to take critical feedback without letting it affect our emotional wellbeing.

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Communication

While you can't control what you're boss will say to you, you can control how you respond.

A strategy for dealing with criticism is the Stop-Acknowledge-Feel-Engage (SAFE) technique. It can remind you of your worth and help you manage your mental and emotional health.

When our work performance is criticised, it can make us question our sense of self and make us perceive it as a threat. We are likely to have an emotional reaction that can lead to irrational outbursts.

How to manage your response: Stop. Don't defend yourself or argue your position. Instead, try to become aware of your physical and emotional reaction. Is your heart racing, your breathing shallow? Silently count to 10, focus on your breath, and lightly rub your fingers as you listen.

As your boss talks, actually listen and don't just think of a rebuttal. Ask open-ended questions to show you are engaged in the conversation.

  • Your questions are a paraphrase of what your boss says. "I hear you say X, which to me sounds like Y. Is that correct?"
  • Avoid "why" questions as it tends to put the speaker on the defensive. "Why would you say I am not a team player?"
  • Watch your tone. Try to keep it warm and your pitch low.

When you come away from the conversation, you might need some place to vent. Find a safe space outside of the office, if possible.

  • To remind yourself that you are more than your job, ask trusted friends to hear you out. They may remind you of your accomplishments. During the talks, try to understand what about the feedback is upsetting you.
  • Using your friends' feedback, make a list of the great things you've done to help increase your confidence.

Once you don't feel so down, ask people you trust to help identify your blind spots and talk about improving these areas. Then look at the feedback you've received and compare it to what your boss said.

  • Are there overlaps between the feedback of your friends and your boss?
  • Have these weaknesses shown up elsewhere, such as at school or while doing volunteer work?
  • Do you have another point of view and the evidence to support your argument?

Set up some time with your boss to discuss the feedback and how you plan to improve.

Five Questions That Impress Hiring Managers
  1. Do you see any major changes in the position or workplace in the coming year?
  2. What can I do to really "win" at this job?
  3. If you were to leave this company, what would be the reason?
  4. What growth opportunities does the organization offer?
  5. Is there anything else I can share to put me at the top of your list?

Hiring managers appreciate it when you ask questions that makes them think and be able to deliver insightful answers. It shows your drive, ambitions, and willingness to invest in the company.

When you give out good interview questions you:

  • Allow yourself to delve into the position's more demanding aspects and whether you're qualified to meet their demands; and
  • It displays your vision within the role, basicaly thinking about how you'll perform in the position being offered, which is a really encouraging aspect to see from a candidate.
Benefits of learning a new language

Research shows that it's important to "exercise" your brain. Learning a language is one of the most effective ways to do this.
Benefits of speaking or learning a second language:

  • It improves overall cognitive abilities.
  • It decreases cognitive decline in older age. People learning a second language has lowered risks of Alzheimer's.
  • Multilingual people are skilful at switching between different systems of speech, writing, and structure, making them better multi-taskers.
  • Exercising your brain with learning a language improves your overall memory.
  • While learning a second language, you focus more on grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure, making you a more effective communicator.
  • Speaking another language means you have access to new words and cultures.
Language And The Way We Think

Language is a literal and linguistic tool that many believe is a fundamental basis of the way we think. Some have hypothesized (like the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) that many languages do not have room for certain thought patterns, and are able to alter our thoughts.

The underlying logic is just because there is no word in a certain language to express something, people who speak the language will not be able to think it, and if they learn a different language, new words and phrases are learned, leading to new ways of thinking.

  • Culture is a way of perspective and identity, and people speaking the same language immediately bond and form a connection.
  • If an English speaking person learns Spanish, the underlying culture that emphasises ‘passion’ or ‘enjoying the experience’ is a more important cultural value in the countries who are natively Spanish.
  • The culture of a certain place may include cuisine, history, music and notable personalities, but language becomes the salt without which the culture is tasteless.

The local language is the preferred route to understand the culture due to 2 reasons:

  1. Most people don’t speak English very well, due to their learning it as a second or third language. These people do not represent the real sampling of the country's population, just being the better-educated cosmopolitans who speak a global language.
  2. Most translations are poor substitutes for the real cultural essence, and a person needs to learn the original language to fully understand the context and culture.

Learning a new language provides access to people who have different thoughts than our own, helping us understand ourselves and the world with a new insightful mindset that didn’t exist before.

Learning a new language, therefore is not just culture, but a way into the minds of people who are not like us.

Stories are the primary way through which we make sense of our world. We explain ideas by telling stories.

Even science uses storytelling when they use data of the physical world to explain phenomena that cannot be reduced to physical facts, or when they extend incomplete data to draw general conclusions.

For example, knowing the atomic weight of carbon and oxygen cannot explain to us what life is. 

Where science and story meet

Despite the verities of science, we feel compelled to tell stories that venture beyond the facts.

When we first see separate ideas, we feel obliged to find a relationship between the ideas to form a coherent picture. Once a possible relationship has been established, we feel the need to come up with an explanation.

The brain’s reward system

When the brain pieces separate bits of an image together to form a coherent picture, it is known as pattern recognition. Once we recognize a pattern, it can spark a degree of pleasure, often described as that "a-ha" moment.

Science is about making up stories called hypotheses and testing them, then coming up with better stories. Once a story is complete, science goes to a lab to test it. While a story is useful, it can also be a problem if we run with an incomplete story. Our brains' reward for possible pattern-matching can overlook conflicting information as it searches for patterns, not identical inputs.

We earn a dopamine reward every time we understand something - even if the explanation is defective. This may result in misinterpreting data.

Good science = precise data - possible interpretations.

Good science is a humble recognition of the limits of what scientific data can say.

  • Ensure that any science you trust has passed through the peer-review process. And even then it might not be accurate. 
  • Search for information on the limits of the data in science reports. Were assumptions made? Be concerned if the discussion of them is missing.
  • Assess the preciseness of language, tightness of structure and restraint with which they present moral issues.
  • Assess the historical, cultural, and personal context of the study.
  • Are they willing to entertain alternative opinions and interpretations?

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