Researchers have observed that when athletes pay attention to what they did right rather than where they went wrong, they do the right stuff more often in the future and
The Right Stuff
No one likes a bossy boss who sees your every mistake as a “teachable moment.” It turns out that when people encounter negative feedback, no matter how well-intentioned, it interferes with their ability to learn new skills and process new information.
A similar effect was seen with rugby players who watched a short pre-game video of a successful play and who also received positive coach feedback (as opposed to cautionary comments or no commentary at all). The players who got verbal encouragement showed lower levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, and had
When we care a lot about the feedback or the person who is giving it – if it’s from a work supervisor or from a respected coach, for example – we’re more likely to mentally hold on to it. Carrying around others’ negative opinions of our performance can turn into some heavy baggage over time.
One possible reason that negative feedback impairs our future performance is that receiving criticism threatens our ego, and this causes us to mentally check out. That makes it harder for us to concentrate, communicate, or learn new skills. The more we can remove our sense of self from the feedback, the easier it is to objectively weigh its validity.
Set Up for Success
We certainly do learn from our failures, but doesn’t it feel much better to succeed? One way to increase our chances of success is to practice “future hindsight”, also called doing a “
Much has been written about the benefits of positive self-talk, which is the near-constant internal dialogue we generate. Even though it may seem “woo-woo” to some, there are now reams of scientific studies that show how it can
Perhaps the best way to “fail better” is to just give ourselves a break. At a
Rita Silvan, CIM™, is personal finance and investment writer and editor. She is the former editor-in-chief of ELLE Canada magazine and is an award-winning journalist and tv media personality. Rita is the editor-in-chief of
Golden Girl Finance, an online magazine focusing on women’s financial success. When not writing about all things financial, Rita explores Toronto’s parks with her standard poodle.