17th Edition: Confidence, Community & How to approach feedback
Thanks for being here
Hey everyone, hope you’re having a wonder-full week
“Confidence is a thought pattern.”
A friend of mine said this matter-of-factly. I immediately went into reflection mode and realized she was right.
Here’s why. Check out this Seinfeld dialogue between George and Jerry:
“I have no confidence in you.”
That’s the takeaway when someone’s actions continuously fall short of our expectations. The opposite is also true.
Patterns generate outcomes.
So it’s only natural we build confidence in ourselves through consistent thought patterns. And thought patterns are prompted by actions.
Jerry Seinfeld uses Transcendental Meditation and weight lifting to train his mind. Others use positive affirmations—“I confidently handle anything that comes my way” or a simple “I got this” can do the trick. Whereas some find it helpful to routinely reflect on their lists of previous “wins”.
Our minds are gardens continuously sprouting vibrant thoughts and ideas. But unless we establish a well worn path to process them, we’re bound to get lost in the mix.
We need to approach confidence building in the same way.
🧠 Challenge: What thought patterns could you practice to improve your confidence? How can you help students do the same?
An experience to inspire: Small pockets of community
We formed Montreal Writing Crew late last year.
I’d attended a writing talk by Julian Shapiro, and his surprise guest—Amanda Natividad—set up a Slack community for attendees afterward.
I was excited to connect with another Montrealer, and soon after we were talking about our goals to reignite our inner writers over coffee.
We’ve since grown our group to three and started Friday check-ins to share updates.
We all have different goals, yet there’s remarkable overlap in what fuels us, versus blocks us. And since writing is synonymous with thinking, we spend most of our time working through our thoughts.
It’s a great reminder that mastering the process is the real prize. Everything else is a bonus.
🧠 Challenge: Reflect on how the communities you belong to are helping you achieve your goals. Think about whether you might benefit from having a smaller group of peers you could have more intimate discussions with. Think about your students’ needs in the same way.
A resource to consider: You might want to think about X
Europeans don’t buried the lead.
Their strong suit is getting straight to the point.
Here’s an extreme example from the Friends episode where Rachel jumps on a last-minute flight to London. A British passenger who overhears why she’s decided to crash Ross’ wedding turns to her and says:
We get a kick out of this scene because it’s blunt and unexpected.
And while people aren’t normally rude, this is a flawless example of how Europeans excel at being concise—not to mention direct—with feedback.
By contrast, North Americans have an aversion to initiating difficult feedback.
Here’s another example from Friends. Remember when Chandler can’t bear to break things off with Rachel’s boss? Every time he tries, he awkwardly pauses and then blurts out, “This was great. I’ll give you a call. We should do it again!”—though he has no intention of calling her, let alone seeing her again.
Rachel’s exasperation in the gif above is a great metaphor for how our minds give way to social anxiety.
Canadians are especially bad at giving feedback. Sometimes we dance around things so much people can’t even be sure what the takeaways are. Or we awkwardly overcompensate by dishing out a bunch of compliments at the end of our spiel (what I call “Chandler Bing syndrome”).
Why do we do this?
I attribute it to a deeply engrained value of not wanting to hurt people’s feelings.
But our ability to share clear, direct feedback has a huge influence on our work climates and our ability to build healthy relationships.
So here’s a tactic I’ve found helpful in overcoming it. I picked it up from a colleague in Australia who regularly provided feedback by following compliments with this prompt: “you might want to think about X”.
Ex. I loved the way you presented the framework step-by-step. You might want to think about how you can engage the audience more next time to make sure they’re following.
What I love about her approach is:
She’s not telling anyone what to do. She’s prompting reflection on what they could consider doing—or avoiding—in the future.
It’s empowering. She’s approaching you as a thought partner invested in your growth.
🎯 Challenge: Next time you’re unsure about how to approach someone with feedback—whether it’s a student or a colleague—consider how you could use “you might want to think about X” to constructively position suggestions.
A question to ponder: Self-improvement
There’s a great saying that “if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re missing out.”
The same principle applies to feedback.
If you’re only relying on feedback from others, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities for self-improvement. Here’s a framework the same colleague mentioned above shared with me to promote reflection.
It’s called the 3-2-1 approach, and it’s simple. Set aside some time to reflect and ask yourself:
What are 3 things I do well?
What are 2 things I could improve on?
What’s 1 thing I should stop doing?
By starting from your strengths, you’ll be able to broach the areas needing change with intention.
💭 Challenge: Ask yourself these questions and see what jumps to mind. You can also use this framework to exchange feedback with colleagues or students.
Thanks for reading my seventeenth newsletter
My goal is to prompt reflection within this vibrant community of ours, so I’d love your feedback on how I can make future editions beneficial.
Got an idea or burning question I could address? Hit reply and we’re off.
Have a wonder-full week,