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Ten Attitudes That Prevent You From Listening

Truth: you believe that you are right and the other person is wrong. You are preoccupied with proving your point instead of expressing your angry feelings more directly or trying to grasp how the other person is feeling.

Blame: you believe that the problem is the other person’s fault and feel overwhelmingly convinced that you’re completely innocent and tell yourself that you have every right to blame him or her.

Need to be a victim: you feel sorry for yourself and think that other people are treating you unfairly because of their insensitivity and selfishness. Your stubborn unwillingness to do anything assertive to make the situation better gives people the impressions that you like the role of a martyr.

Self-deception: you cannot imagine that you contribute to a problem because you cannot see the impact of your behavior on others. For example, you may complain that your wife nags you; but you don’t think about the fact that you repeatedly “forget” to follow through on your promise to repair the fence. You may complain that your husband is dogmatic and stubborn and unwilling to listen to your ideas, but you don’t notice that you constantly contradict everything he tries to say.

Defensiveness: you are so fearful of criticism that you can’t stand to hear anything negative or disagreeable. Instead of listening and trying to find some truth in the other’s person’s point of view, you have the urge to argue and defend yourself.

Coercion Sensitivity: you are afraid of giving in or being bossed around. Other people seem controlling and domineering, and you feel that you must dig in your heels and resist them.

Demandingness: you feel entitled to better treatment from others, and you get frustrated when they don’t treat you as expected. Instead of trying to understand what really motivates them, you insist that they are unreasonable and have no right to feel and act the way they do.

Selfishness: you want what you want when you want it, and you throw a tantrum if you don’t get it. You are not especially interested in what others may be thinking and feeling.

Mistrust: you put up a wall because you believe you will be taken advantage of if you listen and try to grasp what the other person is thinking and feeling.

Help addiction: you feel the need to help people when all they want is to be listened to. When friends and family members complain about how bad they feel, you make “helpful” suggestions and tell them what to do. Instead of being appreciative, they get annoyed and continue to complain. You both end up feeling frustrated.


RDAP Concept of Feedback

Focus feedback on behavior rather than the person: it is important that we refer to what a person does rather than on what we imagine he is. This focus on behavior further implies that we use adverbs, which relate to action rather than adjectives, which relate to qualities when referring to a person. Thus we might say a person “talked considerably in this group” rather than that the person “is a selfish loudmouth”.

Focus feedback on observations: observations refer to what we can see or hear in the behavior of another person. Making conclusions about a person can contaminate our observations, thus clouding the feedback from another person. When conclusions are shared, and it may be valuable to have this information, it is important that they be identified as conclusions.

Focus feedback on descriptions of behavior, which can be measured rather than on personal values: descriptions about quantity are more helpful than those concerning quality. The participation of a person may be considered on a scale of “low to high” participation rather than “good or bad” participation.

Focus feedback on behavior related to a specific situation preferably to the “here and now”: what you and I do is always tied in some way to time and place and we increase our understanding of behavior by keeping it tied to time and place. Feedback is most meaningful if given as soon as appropriate after the observation or reactions occur.

Focus feedback on giving information and not on giving advice: by sharing ideas and information we leave the person free to decide for himself, in light of his own goals in a particular situation and at a particular time, how to use the ideas and the information. When we give advice, we tell him what to do with the information, and in that sense, we take away his freedom to determine for himself what is the most appropriate course of action.

Focus feedback on exploration of alternatives rather than answers or solutions: one ofthe best ways to offer help is to assist someone in coming up with their own solutions.

Focus feedback on the value it may have to the recipient; not on the value of the “release” that it provides the person giving the feedback: feedback is most effective when It serves the needs of the recipient rather than the needs of the giver. Help and feedback need to be given and heard as an offer, not as a demand.

Focus feedback on the amount of information that the person receiving it can use rather than the amount that you might like to give: to overload a person with feedback is to reduce the possibility that he may use effectively what he receives. When we give more than can be used, we are satisfying some need for ourselves rather than helping the other person.

Focus feedback on time and place so that personal data can be shared at appropriate times: because the reception and use of personal feedback involves many possible emotional reactions, it is important to be sensitive to when itis appropriate feedback. Excellent feedback presented at an inappropriate time may do more harm than good.

Focus feedback on what is said rather than why it is said: the aspects of feedback, which relate to the what, how, when, or where, are observable characteristics. The why of what issaid takes us from the observable to the inferred and brings up the question of motive and process. Making assumptions about the motives of the person giving feedback may prevent us from accurately hearing what is said.


Some Guidelines for Giving Feedback

  • Identify the problem before you offer feedback.
  • Evaluate the validity of the feedback in your own mind. Make sure you’re trying to help.
  • Be specific about all feedback.
  • Separate the people from the disease or symptom.
  • Identifying the problem: (e.g., cold symptoms are part of the cold). Don’t over analyze the problem and make it too big to conquer.
  • Do not imply that the person has some personal motive. Keep the feedback on a professional level and always relate it to personal performance.
  • Do not get angry with the person and lose self-control. Give and give again.
  • Do not shift responsibility to someone else. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
  • Do not attribute the behavior to personal weakness.
  • Do not candy coat the feedback. Be clear and concise.
  • Do not get pulled into an argument. Feedback is not debatable.
  • Do not turn the feedback into a joke or verbal one-upmanship.


Some Guidelines for Dealing With Feedback

  • Listen to the feedback in detail. Do not rush to defend yourself or your position.
  • Evaluate the validity of the feedback in your own mind. If the feedback is fair, formulate ways in your own mind that you could change your performance.
  • Try to gain more understanding through asking for more detailed information about the feedback. If the feedback is very general, as it often is, ask the person to be more specific. Ask how the activity could have been done differently or better.
  • Do not imply that the person has some personal motive. Keep the feedback on a professional level and always relate it to professional performance.
  • Do not get angry with the person and lose self-control. This accomplishes nothing.
  • Do not shift responsibility to someone else.
  • Do not attribute the feedback to personal weakness and do not present yourself as a total failure in all areas.
  • Do not shift off the feedback by expressing that you cannot deal with negative comments.
  • Do not change the subject to avoid any direct discussion of the feedback.
  • Do not repeatedly admit that you were wrong, and do not continually question the person as to what you can do to make up for the feedback.
  • Do not focus the conversation on a discussion of justifications and excuses for what you did.
  • Do not shift responsibility onto the person by saying that the person is overreacting or is just looking for something to feedback.
  • Do not turn the feedback into a joke or verbal one-upmanship.
  • Regardless of whether you accept or question the feedback, let the person know you heard and understood the feedback.
  • Remember that feedback is not a threat to you personally or professionally. Itis a way of gaining new information about different and perhaps better ways of performing.


Some Examples of Feedback

Feedback is: a description of what you see, hear or feel from another person. It Is not a question. When you give feedback, you begin by saying “I”.

Example: “I see that you look at the floor when you talk about that issue, and I think you’re feeling embarrassed.” -OR- “I feel you aren’t being honest about how you’re using has affected your life.”

Feedback helps the receiver learn how others see their behaviors, thoughts, feelings and actions. This helps them to consider changing (or keeping) a specific behavior.

Example: “I think you’re acting tough to keep people from getting to know you.” -OR- “I feel uncomfortable and want to leave the room when you look at me like that.”

Feedback is always positive if it is intended to help the receiver, not just if it sounds positive.

Example: “I think you are minimizing how badly you’re using affects your life.” -OR- “I feel like you are afraid to let people see what you’re really all about.”

Feedback describes the behavior, but does not attack or criticize the person.

Example: “When you don’t listen when I’m speaking, I feel that you don’t care.” -OR- “What you just said to me hurt my feelings.”

-NOT- “You made me angry because you’re a …..” -OR- “You just want to hurt me because you’re a big…..”

Feedback is always very specific.

Example: “Your voice got very soft and you looked upset when you talked about your family just now.” -OR- “You just clenched your fists and looked angry when you heard my feedback.”

Feedback is given out in small doses (short & sweet).

Example: “I feel angry towards you right now.” -OR- “I think that you avoid group involvement by not sharing.”

Feedback is not advice giving. Watch for: should, ought, might, etc.

Example: “You should not be drinking so much.” -OR- “You ought to try harder in school.”

Most importantly, feedback is always right… Because it’s yours!!!

Patrick Boyce Federal Mitigation Specialist at NCIA is an expert in the field of prison consulting and a 2003 graduate of the RDAP program. Successful RDAP eligibility, admissions and support maximizes ones chances of a sentence reduction and early release. Timing is critical with the ever changing and complex requirements surrounding what documentation is deemed acceptable for RDAP admission, it is extremely important to contact us as early in the process as possible. For a free no-obligation case analysis contact Patrick now!


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