What Went Well?

Posted on: June 23rd, 2016 by Clear Thinking Team No Comments

What Went WellHow often do you have conversations about what went well?

We’ve been working on a project that has allowed us to meet with the same cohort of delegates three times over the course of the learning journey. We’ve had the opportunity to help them track their progress and recognise their achievements. So, we often ask them, “What went well in the last couple of months? What did you do that you’re pleased about?”

More often than not the response fails to satisfy the question because the delegates describe what they haven’t done and what has gone badly. The feelings that accompany their thoughts about the apparent failure they describe can be seen clearly on their faces and observed in the way the behave immediately after the discussion, where they are subdued, almost apologetic and overly critical.

It’s clear that we’re not all good at noticing when we do things well.

We’re uncomfortable about describing our successes.

When we do spot the good stuff, we gloss over it and devalue it, moving quickly on to describing what we can’t do.

We don’t celebrate our achievements when they happen either.

According to Emma Sinclair, an entrepreneur who wrote in an article for cityam.com recently, “Many Brits are brought up to believe that public recognition is akin to egomania and anyone who welcomes it, let alone seeks it, should be scorned.”

What can we do to stop people from hiding their brilliance?

Simply, have more conversations where people are encouraged to talk about what went well so they get used to describing successes. There’s a lot to be learned from what went well before shifting the focus to look at what perhaps didn’t go so well in the situation.

But this mean we have to ask better questions of each other, questions that elicit a better response. Questions like, “What was the best thing about that?” or “What are you most pleased with?” or “What was your biggest success today?”

And then we have to give our undivided attention and listen out for the response, pushing gently when the other person veers towards the negative, the stuff that didn’t go well, didn’t work and left them feeling disappointed, and keep them on the path that gives them a chance to notice that they’re doing OK, and to actually say it out loud.

Can you have more conversations like this?

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