Escape these 7 thinking traps
Friday, May 29, 2015
By Neena Newberry
We all have setbacks. What matters in the long run is how we
I recently came across a list of "thinking traps" identified
by Hay Group, a global management consulting firm. If we recognize when we fall
into these traps, we can start to see new ways to move past a setback or
Related: Advocates and derailers: Who's in your corner?
Take a look at this list. Which of these seven thinking traps
have you experienced?
you personalize, you assume that a negative event — say, a meeting that went
off the rails — is entirely your responsibility. While you should always assess
what went well and what you would do differently next time, routinely taking on
all the blame may undermine your confidence and make you overlook the true root
of the problem. Instead, try asking someone you trust to help you see the full
picture of what happened and what action to take now.
other extreme, externalizing, means you take no responsibility for a problem.
If you externalize, you would blame the off-the-rails meeting on everyone else
while overlooking how you contributed. Passing the buck in this way can keep
you from learning and growing and could block your success in the long run.
Make it a practice to simply notice how others react, verbally and nonverbally,
to what you say and do.
Magnifying and minimizing.
Do you ever exaggerate the negative aspects of an event and ignore or downplay
the positives? In our meeting example, perhaps you’re overlooking that it was
smooth and productive until the last few minutes. As high performers, we have
rigorous personal standards, but overemphasizing failure over success will
limit your ability to put your strengths more powerfully into play. Take time
to learn from your successes so you can repeat them. And you can’t do that
unless you first acknowledge them.
This means forming broad judgments about yourself or others without evidence.
If, after one rough meeting, you declare that you’re terrible at presenting,
you’re overgeneralizing. By simply asking yourself what went well and what you
should have done differently, you will begin to form a more accurate picture of
your performance. This is another situation where it could help to get an
outside viewpoint on how you’re really doing.
Mind reading. When
you fall into this trap, you assume that you know what someone else is
thinking. You can psych yourself out when you believe the worst. If you’re
prone to mind reading, make it a practice to ask more questions to confirm and
clarify. You might be surprised at what you learn.
Do you assume your emotions are accurate indicators about the nature of the
event, without looking for other evidence? Perhaps you’re so upset about what
went wrong at the meeting that you don’t see what went well. Get more information
and evidence to make a more rational assessment. It also always helps to
breathe and step back from your emotions.
probably all been guilty of exaggerating the negative impact of an event: "The
meeting was terrible — now I definitely don’t have a shot at getting promoted.”
In this situation, bring yourself back to the here and now and out of your
worries about the future. Simply ask yourself, "What is the first step I need
to take after this setback?”
This week, notice whether you’re falling into any of these thinking
traps. What is one small step you will take to shift your thinking and make
yourself more resilient?
Newberry is an executive coach, speaker and author who helps women
"think and play big." A recognized expert with appearances on CBS,
ABC and Fox News, she received four Stevie Awards for Women
in Business in 2014. A former Deloitte executive, Neena is president
of Newberry Executive
Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.
More Beyond the Middle