Learning to Learn Better
Rehearse Successful Tactics/Strategies/ActionsMentally rehearse how you will act before going into the situation. Try to anticipate how others will react, what they will say, and how you’ll respond. Check out the best and worst cases; play out both scenes. Check your feelings in conflict or worst-case situations; rehearse staying under control.
Put Yourself in Situations That Call for Your WeaknessesPut yourself in situations where you must overcome or neutralize a weakness to be successful. Find opportunities to develop counter-coping skills: If you’re shy, attend functions where you don’t know many people; if you’re too aggressive, work with children, etc.
Examine Why You’re Blocked on a Key Issue Examine what you are worrying/angry about and list all of your thoughts about it; ask why these feelings are holding you back. Why are the feelings overriding your thinking? How are they getting in the way? Why are they important to you? How can you move beyond them and learn to do something differently?
Study Your History of Conflicts for Insights List the people and situations which cause you trouble. What are the common themes? Why do those kinds of people and/or those kinds of situations set you off? Do they have to? Was the conflict really important? Did it help or block your learning and getting things done? Try to anticipate those people/situations in the future.
Learn to Separate Opinions from FactsPractice separating opinions, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and values from facts and data. Try to base more of your comments and actions on the data side. If there is a need to air subjective information, announce it as such, and label it for what it is. Don’t present opinions with the look and sound of data.
Learning from Experience, Feedback, and Other People
Feedback in Unusual Contexts/Situations Temporary and extreme conditions and contexts may shade interpretations of your behavior and intentions. Demands of the job may drive you outside your normal mode of operating. Hence, feedback you receive may be inaccurate during those times. However, unusual contexts affect our behavior less than most assume. It’s usually a weak excuse
Learning from Bad Bosses First, what does he/she do so well to make him/her your boss? (Even bad bosses have strengths.) Then, ask what makes this boss bad for you. Is it his/her behavior? Attitude? Values? Philosophy? Practices? Style? What is the source of the conflict? Why do you react as you do? Do others react the same? How are you part of the problem? What do you do that triggers your boss? If you wanted to, could you reduce the conflict or make it go away by changing something you do? Is there someone around you who doesn’t react like you? How are they different? What can you learn from them? What is your emotional reaction to this boss? Why do you react like that? What can you do to cope with these feelings? Can you avoid reacting out of anger and frustration? Can you find something positive about the situation? Can you use someone else as a buffer? Can you learn from your emotions? What lasting lessons of managing others can you take away from this experience? What won’t you do as a manager? What will you do differently? How could you teach these principles you’ve learned to others by the use of this example?
Learning from Bad Situations All of us will find ourselves in bad situations from time to time. Good intentions gone bad. Impossible tasks and goals. Hopeless projects. Even though you probably can’t perform well, the key is to at least take away some lessons and insights. How did things get to be this way? What factors led to the impasse? How can you make the best of a bad situation? How can you neutralize the negative elements? How can you get the most out of yourself and your staff under the chilling situation? What can you salvage? How can you use coping strategies to minimize the negatives? How can you avoid these situations going forward? In bad situations:
(1) Be resourceful. Get the most you can out of the situation.
(2) Try to deduce why things got to be that way.
(3) Learn from both the situation you inherited and how you react to it.
(4) Integrate what you learn into your future behaviour.
9. Learning from Mistakes
Since we’re human, we all make mistakes. The key is to focus on why you made the mistake. Spend more time locating causes and less worrying about the effects. Check how you react to mistakes. How much time do you spend being angry with yourself? Do you waste time stewing or do you move on? More importantly, do you learn? Ask why you made the mistake. Are you likely to repeat it under similar situations? Was it a lack of skill? Judgment? Style? Not enough data? Reading people? Misreading the challenge? Misreading the politics? Or was it just random? A good strategy that just didn’t work? Others who let you down? The key is to avoid two common reactions to your mistakes:
(1) avoiding similar situations instead of learning and trying again, and
(2) trying to repeat what you did, only more diligently and harder, hoping to break through the problem, yet making the same mistake again and with greater impact.
Neither trap leaves us with better strategies for the future. Neither is a learning strategy. To learn to do something differently, focus on the patterns in your behavior that get you in trouble and go back to first causes, those that tell you something about your shortcomings. Facing ourselves squarely is always the best way to learn.