I have been training corporate clients in giving and receiving feedback for three years. Prior to that I ran a business that employed a group of managers to find work for freelance visual artists for 9 years. I am also a published poet who thrives when performing. Both the businesses and my artistic passion require constant observation, idea generation, experimentation, reflection on feedback, improvisation and taking action. They all rely on an ability to generate ideas and put them into action and always through collaboration with others rather than independently.
I focus on identifying what prevents groups from turning their interactions into action so that together we can break down those barriers. The most powerful force preventing people from taking action with an idea is internal feedback. Here are 3 ways to leverage internal feedback to unblock yourself and your coworkers, raise productivity and keep innovating daily.
What makes emotions useful?
The emotions you feel are an inbuilt feedback system. How useful it is depends on how aware of it you are and how honestly you interpret the information it sends you. You now live in the busiest and most distracting environment you ever have. The overwhelming amount of information means that you can feel forced into making more and more decisions in less time. This makes you vulnerable to being reactive and making decisions emotionally rather than being in tune with your emotions and choosing a path consciously.
In real life terms, this means you might react on the phone with a client because of a negative interaction with your coworker this morning. The phone call is completely independent of the interaction with your coworker yet you are allowing it to affect the outcome of the phone call because you were so busy you didn’t take time to let go of the mood.
Thinking your way into a prison
Studies estimate that you now have about 50,000 thoughts per day and the majority of those are negative. Given the interpretation of a thought as good or bad is an invention of your mind, these statistics demonstrate that your feedback loop can spiral in a negative direction.
You are prevented from taking action by a pincer movement where on one side too many thoughts creates cognitive dissonance and exhaustion and on the other side a negative outlook on life suppresses the motivation to act. In the words of Hamlet, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison”.
Be aware of your thoughts and exercise your ability to choose the affect of they have on your behaviour and productivity.
Internal vs external feedback
Very few people take time to reflect on whether their behaviour is being affected by feedback from actualities occurring in the outside world or opinions and feelings based on past experiences or future speculations. There are limits to how much the outside world can affect you. There are no limits to how much your imagination can affect you.
If you are struggling to take action with an idea, take a moment to tune into the way you feel about doing it. Are your feelings provoked by actual events occurring now or are they caused by your opinions of what others have said in the past, or your speculations of what people may say in the future? A fear of what you imagine the opinions of others to be is not a fear of an actual threat to your survival in the here and now.