One rule for better self-assessment

When it comes to judging our own performance, we can be thugs. When we fail, we kick ourselves hard. We use angry, unflattering language, perhaps out loud, but more often in silent and invisible self-abuse.

There are only so many times that we can uppercut our own jaw before we start to show the bleary eyes of self-wear and tear. We lose sleep, we stop doing the things we love and we pop the cap on easy, liquid fixes.

The harm form nasty self-criticism goes to more than just health and well-being. It’s also a performance management issue. Accurate judgement of our own performance is key to improving. We need to know the truth about how we’re doing to get better and the truth is that sometimes we’re idiots, sometimes we’re geniuses and most of the time we’re doing just fine. Bullying ourselves not only hurts, but it’s useless.

So follow the advice that someone gave me recently:

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Every message that you tell yourself, check it to this standard. So many self-bollockings fail this basic test of workplace etiquette. Turn to your neighbour and tell him he’s stuffed it again. Skewer your PA for always getting this wrong. Yell at the IT staff for being useless. Announce to your boss that she’s a moron. Of course you can’t do this and you won’t do this (hopefully) because it’s 2019 and people don’t cop it… and neither should you, from yourself.

We’ve said goodbye to the stapler-throwing, expletive-laden tyrants bellowing your inadequacies at full volume. Why? Because it’s ugly, tedious and unproductive. There are cheaper forms of therapy than successfully reducing someone to tears.

Instead, we speak in a level, calm tone about how to solve things. We cut each other slack. We give second chances. We are fair and friendly and deliberate and thoughtful, probably because we want people to be all those things back to us.

So who’s in your head and why are they so loud?

You can hear them from where you are and they’ll be back tomorrow.

Out here, we don’t cop it. In there, you shouldn’t either.

Hi! I’m a dispute resolution lawyer at Clayton Utz and the former CEO of Out for Australia, an Australian LGBTIQ+ student mentoring non-profit. Feel free to add me on LinkedIn with a message about who you are.

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