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Keep 'em on edge and they'll push harder out of fear

Updated: May 9, 2019


It's time for your review. I'd like to give you some feedback. We evaluated your work.


How does that land with you?


Unsolicited feedback ignites threat circuitry in the brain, (D. Rock, 2009). If anything was worth the while in the communicated evaluation it's lost to your need to fight, flee, freeze, or faint. Creativity shut down.


We learn by engagement with the world. Through repetition and feedback. Hand to hot stove only needs one time application for automatic avoidance of pain to kick in. Social engagement gets a bit more complicated by evolutionary biology's imperative for 'affiliation' to ensure survival. Also by interpretation of perceptual cues like tone of voice or facial expression. Our family of origin, for better or worse, seems to find a stable spot on the shoulder of each individual or group we interact with. There's a lot of blocks to seeing reality, (in general), but here, when words come toward us they travel through so many portals of our misperception.


Why would anyone consider the model of evaluation a good mode for delivery of improved performance? Keep'em on edge and they'll push harder out of fear?


We are all evaluating all the time. Brain trying to assess and compartmentalize to gain traction in the familiar where it/you can feel certain and safe.


Unfortunately it doesn't lead to growth. It only leads to fixed, entrenched, solidified views dredged from history. Absoulutely nothing new!


Please tell that to the scruffy grey-haired man who followed me into a grocery store announcing his evaluation of me: nice pants, great top, beautiful hair.


Your unsolicited feedback is a metric of so much, (white man in power over estimates himself, lack of social emotional intelligence, sexism. . .), but of one thing for sure, the confines of your own mind missing the mark of what life asks of us - real change.


Real Change


Is created in a context that both settles and engages the brain. Think the sweetspot between safety and challenge. There is a reward to make mistakes. Not lip service on current trends of failing forward but a robust cultural clarity of facts - that IS how we create excellence through trial and error,

not perfection.


A few things to keep in mind:


Real change list:

1. Feedback is close to real time of "task"

2. Solicited by person being evaluated

3. Intention - know what direction -why

4. Value for discomfort over self protection

5. Present Awareness counters brain threat


Without a strong internal compass we will be shaped by external metrics. We want change, but generative change.


See what's right right now is a good start. Don't give the bookend old time feedback: 'your work here has been helpful, BUT, we need you to improve...., but, you are a great employee' - what do you think captures our attention? What's wrong, not right. As David Rock called it the arsenic sandwich - might have two pieces of great bread but it's still going to kill you.


In the whole concept of evaluation we are determing what we value. This happens far too quickly in brain time and we might discard a whole person without being aware.


The word Re-View could start by "again" (re) "seeing" from a new view, our brain biases and biological limitation first, then we might be more skilled by our internal feedback, that then informs how we create context to invite real change in another.


The next time you notice you've quickly compartmentalized someone by parts of your perceptual field, realize your brain's limitation, (history making machine impedes real time present to form same old future for it's certainty), and widen out to consciously decide to see differently so you can provide


Real change that Feeds Back what's Possible.