There is lots of talk these days about the importance of embracing failure. And certainly, from a design thinking perspective, there are many good reasons to do so.
For one, actively and strategically acknowledging mistakes and how we might learn from them, builds a culture of experimentation. However, the corollary to embracing failure is to celebrate success in each other. Here is a quick guide to three ways you can approach celebrating your colleagues.
1 Accept. We spend more than 75% of the calendar year at work. We are expected to “give 110%”, yet not all of us feel like we are invited to bring our full, 100% selves to work. How much do you really know each other? What might happen if the skills you’ve cultivated in your favorite hobby incorporated into the ways meetings were run? Acceptance starts with curiosity about each other. Don’t leave it to the annual retreat to get to know each other a tiny bit. Explore having more meet-ups at shorter intervals throughout the year that help you to understand and accept the fuller dimension of your colleagues.
2 Encourage. One of the primary rules for giving feedback is to start with the positive. There is a physiological reason for this: the emotional pathway is faster than actual thought. When we are told we are wrong, that ignites neuro-pathways in the same area of the brain as when we are in physical pain! This triggers the fight-flight response. Called identity protective cognition, we literally will try to defend our identity to the bitter end when faced with criticism. So soften the physiological and chemical responses in the body, by giving words of encouragement and affirmation to each other in large and small acts. This goes a long way for when we will need to have more difficult conversations with each other.
3 Validate. At the end of the day, people need and want to feel validated. Validation is not about getting our way- but it is about visibility and recognition. We all need to be seen, heard and recognized. This goes a long way through the most difficult decision making processes, where not everyone will be the winner, but at least everyone will felt heard and included.
Fully celebrating each other has to be about more than the big hurrahs that an award at the end of a long tenure or a promotion brings. While those manifestations of success are important, it is also critical to celebrate each other in smaller doses, recognizing the full person, by accepting, encouraging and validating each other in incremental moments each day that we work together.
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