Episode 21: Being Resourceful, Patient, and Coachable

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Being Resourceful, Patient, and Coachable

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Being Resourceful, Patient, and Coachable

Today’s episode is all about the three essential qualities you need to possess in order to solve the problems you’re facing and create the success you crave. We’re talking about being resourceful, patient, and coachable, and it’s going to put so much into perspective for you.

I’m going through each of these qualities individually, and how they all come together to make problem-solving and achieving new results faster and easier. By the end of this episode, you’ll be able to see where you’re embodying these qualities, and where you might need to focus and work on these things if you’re not being resourceful, patient, and coachable.

Tune in this week to discover the three essential qualities for solving problems and being successful. I’m sharing why taking action without looking at your mindset is never the answer, and I’m showing you how resourcefulness, patience, and being coachable allow you to think of solutions faster and implement them more effectively.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. You can get all the information and apply by clicking here

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why resourceful is always the most powerful thing you can be as you try to problem-solve.
  • What it looks like to be resourceful, patient, and coachable.
  • Why being resourceful doesn’t mean never asking for help.
  • The opposites of these three essential qualities and how being stuck there is holding you back.
  • How to see the areas you already display these qualities, and where you still have some work to do.
  • Why taking action without first working on your mindset won’t take you where you want to go.
  • What you can do to start being more resourceful, patient, and coachable right now.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 21. We’re talking all about being resourceful, patient, and coachable. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hi, my friends. How’s it going? Is it just me, or can you hardly believe that it’s almost the end of July? That is just blowing my mind right now. Two of my friends and I have this inside joke that every year, when it hits August, they both always tell me that the year is over. They’re like, “Olivia, the year’s come to an end, it’s all done.” They don’t even bother saying that it’s practically over. They just tell me that it’s completely over.

I always strenuously object when they say that. If you’re wondering if that is a hat tip to A Few Good Men, yes, it absolutely is. I always say that, I strenuously object. Anyways, I always argue with them and tell them that the year better not be over, because I’ve got a lot more I want to accomplish before the end of the year. Then, we kind of all have a little giggle about it, and we agree to disagree.

So, even though we’ve got lots of time left till the end of the year, which means we’ve got lots of time left to accomplish our 2022 goals, I still can’t believe how fast this year is flying by. You know, maybe that’s because most things have gone back to normal now, since COVID.

The months seems to pass just a little bit faster than they did during quarantines. It’s either that, or I’m just getting older and that’s just how it works, now. The months go by a little bit faster, but they seem to be flying by. It’s hard to say why that is, but they definitely are.

Hope you’ve got a game plan for the rest of your 2022, in order to get you where you want to go. If your year isn’t quite going as you planned for it to go, and you don’t feel like you’re making the most of your year, I’ve got something big in store for you. In the upcoming episodes, I’m going to cover some really meaty topics.

They’re the issues that absolutely plague my clients the most, I always refer to these issues as the three P’s: procrastination, people pleasing and perfectionism. Over the next several episodes, we’re going to cover them in depth. I’m going to explain exactly why you do each one of those bad habits, and how to stop.

If you really make strides in each of the three key areas, you’re really going to transform yourself and ultimately transform your year. You’ll be able to get out of your own way, and stop letting procrastination, people pleasing, or perfectionism present as obstacles or roadblocks that keep you from creating the results you want in your life, accomplishing the goals that you want to accomplish. So, we’re going to tackle those.

If you struggle with them, I don’t want you to beat yourself up. So many of my clients struggle with these issues. They’re super common issues, in the legal industry. And, if we’re being really honest, no one’s ever taught us how to not procrastinate, how to not people please, how to not indulge in perfectionism.

In fact, we’ve kind of been taught the opposite. All throughout growing up, from our parents through our educators, and in a lot of the work relationships that we’ve been in, we get rewarded for people pleasing. We get rewarded for our perfectionism, maybe not for procrastination.

That’s just a normal human tendency that we need to learn, to work, to untangle, and unravel, and unpack, so you can move forward and solve for it. But these habits are really normal. They’re just part of the human experience for most people. We’re going to unlearn these bad habits. There’s a lot to unlearn. And, it’s no wonder we struggle with them if we’ve never learned how to stop engaging in them.

That’s what I’m going to teach you over the course of the next several episodes. It’s why I’m here. It’s why you’re tuning into this podcast; I’ve got you. With that being said, I’m going to give you some advanced warning to gear up. There’s a lot to cover for each of those topics. Like I said, we’re really going to dive into some very meaty content.

I’m super excited to do that, to dive into those discussions. I hope you are, too. But with that being said, what I need to do, because those are meaty topics, I need to lay a foundation for you. That’s what this episode is for. I want to talk about the three essential qualities you need to possess, in order to solve the problems you’re facing and create the success you crave.

Okay, what are those three essential qualities? They’re being resourceful, patient, and coachable. Now it took about absolutely everything in me to put those in that order, because I really wanted to make this list alphabetical. But I gave some thought to doing that, and I truly believe it’s more important, and it serves you more, for me to list them in order of importance.

Even though I think all three of these qualities are essential to problem solving and to being successful, I do think being resourceful is probably the most important item on this list of three qualities. That’s why I wanted to start with that. If you approach any problem you have, by exercising these three characteristics, you’re going to make so much more progress than you would otherwise. You will really wow yourself.

With that being said, I want to dive in and just go over these three qualities, one by one. Give you an understanding of what they look like in practice. So, you can identify; are you already doing these things? Or, maybe you’re not? What improvements can you make?

I’m also going to talk about what the opposite of these attributes looks like in your day-to-day life. So, you can identify that as well, if you’re not being resourceful, patient, and coachable. Okay, let’s go.

All right, the first of the three essential qualities to solving problems and being successful, is being resourceful. Now, what does that look like in practice? This is where you approach problems head-on. You figure out exactly what you don’t know, then you solve for it. You don’t spin. You’re taking action. You evaluate.

I’ve talked quite a bit throughout the podcast about evaluating the action you take and the results you create. Taking that action, auditing and adapting, right? When you’re resourceful, you’re problem solving, you’re doing that adapting. You don’t wait around for someone to hand you the answers. You don’t act helpless or lost. You refuse to stay stuck. You approach every challenge within, “I can figure this out,” mindset. You stay really curious. You’re determined, and you’re searching for solutions.

When you’re searching for solutions, and tapping into your own resourcefulness, and mining your own brain for the answers, rather than staying stuck, you find solutions. You’re able to come up with them. Then, you’re able to implement them and you’re able to get yourself the results that you want.

Being resourceful is so powerful, right? What are some signs that you’re not being resourceful? You might frequently say or think things like I can’t do this. Nothing’s working. I’ve tried everything. It’s never going to work. I don’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know the answer. I’m stuck.

Alright, if that’s what your mental chatter looks like, it is laden with victimhood, you guys. We’ve got to clean that up. If that’s what’s on your thought playlist most days, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that line of thinking is remarkably negative. It’s really helpless and very defeatist. I know those are strong opinion statements, but this is the work I do with clients every single day.

I know that, that line of thinking produces absolutely nothing positive. We can’t always spot it when we’re in it. I recently pointed this out to a client of mine. I was like, “Do you know how negative your thoughts are?”  I think they weren’t able to see it themselves. But once I pointed it out, they were able to start creating awareness around how negative their thinking was.

Why does that matter? Remember, I told you this before, your thoughts create your results. So, these thoughts, the ones that I just went through with you, they’re going to just create more of the same. You’re going to find yourself caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you can’t do it, you won’t do it.

There’s that famous quote about whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. That’s exactly right. If you think you can’t do it, you’re going to feel helpless, or hopeless, or defeated, and not figure it out. Then, you’re going to prove that true. You’re going to create the result of not doing it and it’s just further evidence that you can’t.

If you’re telling yourself nothing is working, you’re going to create more of that result; that nothing is working, telling yourself you tried everything. Such a bad thought to think. It is never true. There’s always something else that you could try.

You want to get curious and resourceful, and figure out what those things are. What else haven’t you tried? What might you be able to do differently? When you think you truly have taken every possible action under the sun, I want to challenge you that you probably haven’t taken it with the right mindset; you want to make sure you’re taking belief fueled action.

So, if you think you can’t do something and it’s not going to work, but you’re following the action steps moving forward, like Eeyore; you’re doing something, but not with the motivated, determined mindset that you want to have. You’re not going to create good results, or positive results, because the negative thoughts are what create your results.

Even if the action looks good, if you’re not bringing the right mindset to the action that you’re taking, it’s not going to get you where you want to go. Don’t think the thought I’ve tried everything; there’s always something else you can try. When you tap into your resourcefulness, you’re able to find out what those things are.

Same thing with; it’s never going to work. If you think that, I promise you, it’s never going to work. So, you want to clean up that thinking. I did a whole episode on indulging. If you missed that, make sure you go back and listen to that episode, it’s so helpful.

This is such a common mindset problem that I see with my clients. But if you’re thinking: I don’t know how to fix this problem, and I don’t know the answer, and you’re just staying confused and continuing to indulge in ‘I don’t know,’ you’re just going to create more not knowing.

Again, that’s a lot of helplessness, that’s not resourcefulness. So, you want to change that to; I can figure this out. Focus on what you do know. Be very specific about what you don’t know, then tap into that resourcefulness and solve for it. If you’re thinking, I’m stuck, you’re going to stay stuck. So, you want to be really careful about all of these negative thoughts. They’re red flags, that you are not being resourceful.

If this is what your mental chatter looks like, you just want to catch yourself, put a pin in that, and ask yourself; what do I need to think, to feel resourceful? What do I need to think and feel in order to be resourceful? Really tap into your resourcefulness.

Another key indicator that you aren’t being resourceful is that you find yourself really hungry for the ‘how.’ One of my coaches calls this indulging in ‘how’ greed, and I love that term of art, because that’s exactly what this shows up like. We’re really greedy and desperate for someone else to give us the ‘how;’ for them to tell us how to proceed, to give us the roadmap moving forward. We don’t want to figure it out ourselves. We just want someone to hand it to us on a silver platter.

A lot of times what I see with clients is that even when they get the ‘how,’ they still keep asking for more ‘hows.’ Like, they get the answer; they don’t love it. They don’t want to implement it. They just want to keep asking, “Yeah, but how? Yeah, but how? Yeah, but how?” over and over and over again.

If you find yourself struggling with ‘how’ greed or being hungry for the ‘how’ you’re going to find yourself in a place where you’re constantly wanting someone else to give you the ‘how,’ instead of being willing to tap into your own resourcefulness and figure things out for yourself.

You may do this because you think that it’s easier this way. I promise you, it’s not. When you’re hungry for the ‘how’ and you’re indulging in ‘how’ greed, and you constantly keep going outside of yourself for all of the answers that you need to solve, the problems that you’re encountering, you keep having to rely on other people for those answers.

When you tap into your own resourcefulness and you start to become someone who figures things out for themselves, you can rely on your own wisdom moving forward. You come up with your own answers. That’s so helpful. It’s so useful to be someone who’s able to do that. You become so much less reliant on other people, which will make you feel more confident as a result. So, you really want to make sure you’re doing this.

Now I just want to add one side note here, when I say that you need to be resourceful in order to problem solve effectively and become successful, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever ask for help, you can. Sometimes being resourceful is identifying the people around you that may have the answers that you don’t have, and utilizing them to the best of your ability.

But what I want to make sure that you aren’t doing, is showing up and being, what one of my coaches called an ‘ask hole.’ Where you keep asking someone for advice, guidance, the ‘how’ answers to the problems that you’re facing. And when they give you that guidance, then you don’t implement it. You either keep asking, like I just described, or you ask them for guidance, they give it to you, and then you just do absolutely nothing with it.

If you’re going to ask for guidance… And this ties in with being coachable, as well, we’ll talk about in a second. But if you ask for guidance, go implement it. Then, evaluate the action that you took and adapt as needed. If you need to make changes, go for it. But make sure you’re implementing the guidance that you asked for and receive.

Now, being resourceful is truly one of the most important skills you can develop. There is absolutely nothing you cannot accomplish, if you are resourceful. I want you to ask yourself right now, just do a quick check in, where are you not being resourceful in your life right now? Where are you indulging in ‘how’ greed or being hungry for the ‘how’? Where are you indulging in a little bit of helplessness and victimhood, with that defeatist mindset I talked about a little while ago? Where are you not being resourceful?

Then, I want you to ask yourself, what would you do differently, as it relates to that area of your life, as it relates to that problem? If you tapped into your own resourcefulness, whatever answer you came up with, I highly recommend you implement it, take that action. It will get you so much further towards the success you want to achieve.

Now, the next essential quality that you want to have, in order to solve problems and be successful, is being patient. Now, what does this look like in practice? It’s kind of self-explanatory, right? We’re all familiar with patience. But I do want to flesh it out just a little bit. Because there are some aspects, as far as having a patient mindset is concerned, that I think would be helpful for me to highlight.

So, what does it look like to be patient when you are working to solve a problem and create success? It looks like not rushing. It looks like not beating yourself up for the progress that you’ve made, or for the progress that you haven’t made. It’s approaching the process calmly, in a grounded space, being kind to yourself in the process, and not going to war with how it’s going.

Here’s what it doesn’t look like. Being impatient and giving up. So, let’s talk a little bit about the mindset that signifies you’re being impatient and you’re contemplating giving up. Giving up mindset is really evident, it’s just thinking thoughts like I should quit, this is pointless. This won’t work. Being impatient might also look like thinking thoughts like I should be further along. I don’t know why this is taking so long. This shouldn’t be taking so long. Why haven’t I figured this out by now? I should have figured this out by now.

It may seem helpful for you to think those thoughts, like it’s going to speed up the process, but I promise you it will not. It’s only going to slow you down, because you’re going to feel frustrated, and discouraged, and pressured, and rushed, and impatient as a result of thinking those thoughts. And, that’s not going to lead to creating anything good.

You’re going to take less action, withdraw, and not pursue solving the problems. You’re going to create more negative results. So, you want to make sure if you’ve got an impatient mindset, you want to clean that up.

Listen, change absolutely can happen overnight; but it doesn’t always. I teach my clients that. Change can take time; it doesn’t always have to. It doesn’t have to take a long time. But sometimes it might. Especially when you’re undoing years and years and years of conditioning, and programming, and habit forming, that lead you to do things like the three P’s; indulge in perfectionism, procrastinate, people please.

It might take some time to undo all of those habits, that doesn’t have to be a problem. The only reason it ever is a problem, is because you’ve come up with some expectation for yourself, that you figure it out faster. If you adjust your expectation, and you approach yourself with a little bit more grace and kindness, you won’t have that same urgency, you won’t have that same impatience.

Now, what kind of mindset do you want to cultivate instead, in order to be patient? I love approaching problem solving with the mindset of I will not quit this, no matter what. I will figure this out, no matter how long it takes me.

One of my other favorite thoughts; I’m willing to be bad at this, for as long as it takes me to learn how to do this. Remember, you’re learning a new skill, and learning new skills doesn’t always happen overnight. That doesn’t mean anything’s gone wrong. Thinking: this is going to take me as long as it takes. And, that’s okay.

I also love thinking: I’m exactly where I should be in this process. It’s totally fine for me to be right where I am, nothing’s gone wrong. You want to make sure you’re practicing patience with yourself for the progress you’re making. Maybe for the progress you haven’t made yet, all of it is fine. You will eventually get there, so long as you show up in a patient headspace and you don’t allow yourself to entertain the option of quitting. Take quitting right off the table, and be patient, stick with it.

The third and final essential quality that you want to make sure you possess, in order to solve your problems and be successful, is being coachable. This is one of the skills that I really teach my clients to develop, as we work on all of the items that they want to work on during the course of our coaching work together: All the problems that we want to solve. All the habits that they want to remedy. All of the goals that they want to work towards and accomplish.

You want to make sure you’re coachable. Now, what is being coachable look like? How do you do it? When you’re encountering and dealing with a problem that you’re facing, being coachable looks like, first and foremost, humbling yourself that you don’t have all of the answers.

After you’ve tapped into your own resourcefulness, and you’ve tried some things on your own, you may be coming up short, that’s okay. You want to humble yourself and admit that you don’t have all the answers. And, that you might not be able to see your blind spots. You might not know what you’re doing wrong. And, you want to ask for coaching.

But before you ask for coaching, you want to make sure that you’re not coming into being coached, and into receiving feedback or guidance, with an arrogant attitude. Thinking that you know better than the person who’s giving you the guidance.

You want to make sure you come in with some humility, in a grounded place, not thinking that you’ve got this all figured out. So, you want to humble yourself.

Now, I’m going to speak from experience here. When I learned how to develop business and market myself, I didn’t do this, at first. I didn’t humble myself. I thought that I could figure it out on my own. That I had all the answers in this head of mine.

When I first hired my business coach, I joined her entry-level program. I watched a lot of the module videos in her program and I didn’t apply them. And very candidly, I told myself, this is silly. It’s stupid. It won’t work.

I really came with an arrogant, know-it-all energy. I thought I was too good to do it her way. I thought she probably didn’t know what she was talking about. I just didn’t want to like her methodology. It felt foreign to me. It felt awkward. I didn’t want to do it. So, instead of humbling myself, I judged it and didn’t implement it.

All I ended up doing was prolonging my success by doing this, because I didn’t show up in that program very coachable in the beginning. Now, as months went by, and I watched a bunch of other people start getting results and making a lot of money, I finally got to the point where I was willing to humble myself, admit that I didn’t know how to market myself or sell coaching.

I submitted to the process. I opened my mind. I humbled myself. I started implementing what she taught and everything started to shift. So, you want to make sure that you’re coming to problem solve, and you’re coming to work through these issues, like the three P’s that we’re going to talk about, from a humble perspective. Rather than coming in like you know the answers, you’ve got it all figured out.

That might not be easy for a lot of people, especially attorneys that are usually used to presenting like they do have the answers, because clients turn to us to have answers, right? Or, at least we tell ourselves that, and then put a lot of pressure on ourselves as a result.

But this is going to be different. You’re not the teacher, you’re not the expert. In this moment, you’re the student. So, you want to make sure you show up in that student energy; a little humble and open to receiving.

Once you’ve got yourself in that humble mindset and you’re going to approach it with humility, you want to ask for coaching. You don’t want to be stubborn, and just try and figure it out all on your own. Again, sounds a little bit counterintuitive to being resourceful, I get that, but these two things can really beautifully coincide.

You want to ask for coaching. Figure out what you need coaching on, where you’re struggling, what specifically the problem is. Do that work yourself, that’s how you can be resourceful. Then ask for, specifically, what you’re struggling with, get help with that. Then, being coachable looks like submitting yourself to the process.

When you’re getting coached, whether it’s by a coach, by me on a webinar that I do, or in my group program, or if we’re working together one-on-one, for my clients that are listening, or even for you listening to the podcast episodes, I’m going to give you a lot of questions for you to ask yourself and answer.

Be really honest with your answers, to the questions that I asked you. Really submit yourself to the process; don’t hold back, be really open, really give it your all. If you don’t, you’re not going to get the progress that you want to get out of it. You’re not going to get the growth that you want to get out of it. So, make sure you really submit yourself to the process.

Being coachable also looks like trusting the person that you’re seeking guidance from. This may be a coach, this might be a mentor, or a supervisor, if you’re asking them for some guidance or some feedback in any of the areas that you’re struggling with. It’s really easy to not trust, and to get combative, and to take issue with some of the things that you are told, some of the coaching that you receive.

It’s easy to slip into the ‘me versus them’ mindset with this and thinking that you guys are on opposite sides of an issue, and that you aren’t aligned, as far as your best interests go. I promise you; especially working with a coach. But even the people that you talk to and seek guidance from, tell yourself, and really work on establishing trust, that that person is on your side; that they have your best interests at heart, that they want the same things that you want, they want to see you be successful.

I want all of my clients to be successful. I want you to be successful, if you’re listening to this podcast. I want you to take what I’m going to teach you and apply it in your own life. If I say something that feels triggering, or jarring, or challenging, and it’s a little uncomfortable for you, I want to promise you, I’m doing it to serve you. I am on your side; I’m trying to point something out to you that you may not see.

Show you a blind spot that you may not have known was there. Get you to look at something a little bit differently. I’m doing it because I am on your side. It may be a little uncomfortable, that’s okay. I just want you to resist the urge to react negatively to it.

Instead, a great thing that you can do is ask yourself; how might what Olivia is saying and suggesting, be true? How might it be spot on? How might it be accurate? Find what can resonate with you, rather than tearing it apart and picking it apart. Come to it being really open minded.

Then, once you receive the coaching or the guidance that you asked for, make sure you apply it. If you end up wanting more coaching or guidance, only ask for it after you’ve applied what you’ve already received. Okay?

Those are the steps that you want to follow to be coachable. What’s the opposite of being coachable? It’s going to look like being really withdrawn; really resistant, really combative, and not applying any of the coaching or guidance you receive.

The mindset of being un-coachable might look something like: This person’s wrong. They don’t understand. They don’t know what they’re talking about. This doesn’t apply to me.

Instead of that thought pattern, you really want to switch to: Maybe this does apply to me. How might that be true? What if this person knows something I don’t know? Maybe they’re onto something? What if they’re right?

Maybe they could be right. Maybe I should find out for myself, whether or not they’re right, by applying it. Rather than making a preconceived judgment and determination before you’ve applied the coaching and guidance you received.

All right. Those are the three attributes, the three qualities that you want to possess in order to solve the problems that you’re encountering, in order to be successful. I asked you this, with the first attribute, with being resourceful, for you to ask yourself, where are you not being resourceful right now? What would it look like for you to be more resourceful in that area?

I want you to do the same thing with the other two attributes. Where are you not being patient? Where in your life could you be more patient right now? What would be different about your life, if you showed up with a little bit more patience?

Where in your life are you not really being coachable, and going through the steps that I just outlined, to be coachable? What would be different, how would you approach your problems differently, if you showed up being coachable? I want you to give some thought to those questions.

All right, these are the three attributes or skills that I want to make sure you have, as we go into these meatier subjects in the upcoming episodes. Listen to this episode as many times as you need to, in order to really get those ingrained, drill them into your head. You want to be resourceful, you want to be patient, and you want to be coachable.

I just want to tell you; these are three skills that I have mastered over the past several years. So, I assure you, I really do walk the walk when it comes to implementing and living these three skills in practice. I really do practice what I’m preaching.

What I want to tell you is this: Number one, being resourceful, patient, and coachable really pays off. This may sound arrogant, and I really don’t mean it that way. I’m trying not to apology vomit or over-explain myself here, but I have learned how to do so many things, because I’m resourceful patient and coachable.

I’ve learned how to manage my time, I used to be terrible with that. I’ve learned how to follow through, I used to be terrible at that too. I’ve learned how to set boundaries and put myself first, and accomplish really lofty goals. Because I am resourceful, patient, and coachable.

I’ve also learned a lot of hard skills. A lot of people in my life will find out that I know how to do particular things. I always tell people, I’m kind of a Jill-of-all-trades. There’s so many different skill-sets that I possess, that I’ve really taught myself, over the course of my lifetime. They’ll often say to me, “Wow, I can’t believe you know how to do that? You know how to do everything.”

I used to kind of downplay that that is true. Of course, I don’t know how to do everything, right? No one does. But I do know how to do a lot of things. And, I do know how to do a lot of things very well. Here’s why, this is what I often explain to them. I explain; the reason I know how to do so many things is because I’m resourceful, patient, and coachable.

When I encounter a problem and I want to learn how to do something, or I want to find a solution to it, I am relentless. I seek out whatever resources I can, whatever resources I need, to learn how to do something, to learn how to solve the problem. I never give up. I keep sticking with it.

I’m also patient as hell. I try and I fail, and I evaluate, and I don’t get discouraged, and I don’t get frustrated. I don’t think that it should take less time than it does. I just keep learning and adapting, and I learn some more until I master something. I don’t quit. I don’t give up. I stick with it, no matter what. I show up really patient.

I also don’t indulge in confusion. I commit to something and I figure things out, no matter what. If something doesn’t work, I stay curious. I ask questions. I do more research, and then I give it another go. I’ve taught myself how to do graphic design. How to design websites. How to build a membership platform for the mastermind, I just did that.

I know so much about marketing, and business development, and social media platforms, and algorithms, all of this stuff. I know how to fix things around my house. There’s just so much I know how to do, because I take the time, I’m patient, and resourceful. I figure out how to troubleshoot basically every problem I encounter, because I possess those qualities.

I’m also super coachable. Which means when I don’t know something, like I explained earlier, I humble myself. I seek out someone that has greater knowledge than I do, and I ask them for guidance, I get coached. I have my blind spots pointed out to me by an expert, and instead of being combative when I receive the coaching, and oftentimes I get coaching that I don’t like, but it’s usually the coaching I need to hear.

So, when I receive the coaching, instead of being combative, I follow the being coachable steps I outlined for you. I ask myself; how might this apply? How might it be true? I find that, I keep an open mind, and then I go out and implement it. I apply the coaching that I received.

Sometimes, like I said, when I get coached, and I didn’t particularly want to receive that coaching, I have to push myself to see how it’s the coaching I needed. And how it’s right, and how it might be appropriate, and how I might benefit from applying it.

Then, once I figure it out… That’s my work; I figure out how it applies to the situation I’m dealing with, even if it doesn’t seem like it should apply. From there, I go out, and I implement it. When I do that, I basically always find the wisdom that I was meant to receive.

Then, once I’m clear on what that wisdom is, I’m able to go take action and put that coaching into practice. That’s how I grow, right? When I’ve done that, I go back for more. I go back for more coaching. I tap into my resourcefulness. I mine my own brain. I stay patient.

I keep operating from those three qualities, from those three attributes. I bring them with me to every goal that I set for myself, and every problem that I aim to solve. Developing these three skill sets has been absolutely essential to my problem solving and growth.

And I promise you, they’re going to be essential to yours, as well. They’re the exact same skill-sets that you’re going to need to take with you as you approach problem-solving for the three P’s; for fixing your procrastination habit, for dialing down your people pleasing, and learning how to no longer indulge in perfectionism.

They’re the skill-sets that you’re going to need to grow into the next version of yourself. So, if you’re ready to practice what I’m preaching and apply these qualities to tackling the three P’s, let’s go. We’re going to cover it in the next several episodes. I can’t wait until then.

Have a beautiful week and I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 20: Giving Feedback (That’s Well Received)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Giving Feedback (That's Well Received)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Giving Feedback (That's Well Received)

Last week, we discussed how to accept feedback without getting defensive. But today, we’re talking about the flipside: giving feedback that’s well received. As we spoke about in the previous episode, the feedback you receive is entirely neutral, until you think something about it. So, if all feedback is neutral, why do we need to make an effort to ensure it’s well-received? Surely it’s the other person’s job to manage their mind around your feedback, right?

Well, while I do believe it’s everyone’s individual responsibility to manage their emotional experience, not everyone is going to do that because most people don’t even know their thoughts create their feelings. So, in light of human brains operating the way they always do on default, how can you give feedback that’s going to be well received? Listen closely to find out.

Tune in this week to discover the best practices for giving feedback and doing everything in your power to make sure it’s welcomed by the other person, even if it’s negative. I’m sharing the importance of getting clear on your thoughts, feelings, biases, and your desired results as you prepare your feedback, so you can deliver it in a way that’s well received.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. You can get all the information and apply by clicking here

If you enjoyed today’s show, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review! 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why, no matter how hard we try, we cannot control another person’s reaction to our feedback.
  • My best practices for giving feedback while being mindful of the other person’s reaction.
  • The importance of offering feedback from a neutral or positive perspective.
  • How to make sure your own thoughts and feelings aren’t negatively affecting the delivery of your feedback.
  • The biases that can taint the feedback we give to others, and how to get clear on those biases.
  • My step-by-step process for crafting and delivering feedback that doesn’t make the other person defensive while still clearly communicating what you need from them.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 20. Today I’m teaching you all about how to give feedback that’s well received. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hey there, how’s it going? I hope you’re doing so well. I’m so excited that this is Episode 20. I can’t believe that I’ve been talking to you guys for 20 different episodes. That’s just so neat to me. I know that we’ll be at 52, a whole year’s worth of podcast episodes, before we even know it.

Before we dive into Episode 20’s topic, I want to talk about two things really quick. First, we’re going to take a minute for a gratitude practice, because I have a lot to be grateful for right now. Over this past weekend, my mom had emergency pacemaker surgery, it totally came out of nowhere.

She went to a routine doctor’s appointment, and lo and behold, they sent her right to the ER. They were able to do the procedure that she ended up really needing, kind of out of nowhere. As I went through that whole process, which was pretty scary on the front end, I was really enamored and in awe of how incredible science is.

So, this week, I am practicing gratitude, for science and the advancements that we have, that make procedures like that kind of routine, even though they’re certainly not routine in my life or my mom’s life. Of course, they are routine, and they happen every single day. Those advancements really make so many incredible things possible. I’m grateful that they caught it. I’m grateful that she was able to have that done. And, I’m grateful that she is making a really incredible, impressive recovery.

So, that’s what I’m grateful for this week. I want you to take a second and pick something that you’re deeply grateful for. I don’t think we take enough time to stop ourselves and acknowledge what it is that we’re grateful for. My one-on-one coach, Jess Johnson, she makes me do this each time we meet. So, I’m going to ask you to do this right now. Because it’s something that I’ve really come to love when I see her every week, that I’m forced to pick something that I’m grateful for and to celebrate it.

I want you to pick something that you’re truly grateful for and celebrate it. Say it out loud; say, “I’m so grateful for…,” insert whatever it is you’re grateful for. Say it slowly. Really drop into that thought. Sit with it until you can place it in your body, until you feel that gratitude within you. Let that gratitude just warm you up. And then, just sit with that for a minute.

Why are you grateful for this thing? How does it impact your life? How does it improve your life? How does it benefit your life? Answer those questions, and just sit and enjoy that feeling. Sit with it, enjoy it, let it flood you. Really find that gratitude in your body. It’s so good.

I love just thinking about what you guys are grateful for. You know, I don’t get to hear what you’re saying out loud. But I’m sure it’s so many different things. And I just think that’s really neat. Alright, that’s the first thing. Just a little moment of gratitude. You can pause the podcast if you want to take a second to sit with it. And then, keep going.

Alright, number two, I want to highlight another amazing listener review. I absolutely love it when you guys leave me reviews letting me know what you think of the podcast. It’s just so awesome to read them. This week’s is from the Legal Guru, and he’s also a friend of mine. Maybe this seems like cheating, but I loved his review and I wanted to give him a shout out.

His name’s Beilal. He said, “How lucky was I to attend law school with Olivia and to be a part of her study group. For a decade now, Olivia has been a wealth of knowledge and guidance to those around her, contributing to and enriching the lives of several attorneys I know personally. I cannot understate how important this podcast is not only for attorneys, but for everyone.” So good. I love it. Beilal, thank you for such an amazing review.

I was the flowchart girl all through law school. For those of you who didn’t know me back then, I was the flowchart girl. We had the best study groups. I was in the evening program in law school and we just had a really tight knit group. We were really supportive of one another. We didn’t have any gunners. We were just really collaborative. It was so much fun. So, thank you to Beilal for the amazing review.

If you’re loving the podcast, I want you to do me a favor. Number one, if you haven’t subscribed already, go do that right now. Number two, please leave me a rating and review, and let me know what you think. Let me know what you’re loving. Let me know what you want to hear. I would love to hear from you. Maybe I will shout you out on a future podcast, as well.

And number three, share this episode with a friend. If you know a lawyer that you think might benefit from listening to this content, shoot it to ‘em, send it on over a text or an email. But don’t hoard the knowledge, share the wealth.

Okay, now that those two business items are out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. This is sort of a two-part episode. In the last episode, I talked about accepting feedback without getting defensive. I taught you the exact steps to follow to do that. Today we’re talking about the flip side, we’re talking about giving feedback. And then in parentheses, I want you to think about giving feedback that’s well received.

Now, based on the discussion that I had with you in that last episode, where I explained that the feedback that you receive is entirely neutral, in and of itself. It’s just a circumstance, it’s just words, they don’t cause your feelings until you think thoughts about them. I also explained that it’s our jobs, to control and curate our thoughts about the feedback that we receive.

Based on all of that, you might think that I would be telling you not to worry about how you give feedback, and that it’s just the other person’s obligation to manage their minds around whatever you say, and however you say it. And, while I do believe that it’s everyone’s individual responsibility to manage their emotional experience, that they have around whatever circumstances they encounter, let’s be honest, for just a second, not everyone’s actually going to do that. Right?

Not everyone is doing that. Not everyone that you know, is managing their minds and listening to podcasts like this. They’re probably not all aware that their thoughts are what caused their feelings. They probably blame the circumstances, most people going through the world operate that way. They think the circumstances they encounter, so the words that you say to them, are what directly cause how they feel.

In light of that, in light of human brains operating the way human brains always do; blaming circumstances for feelings, in light of those truths, it probably behooves you to give some thought to how your feedback is going to be received. And, to implement some of the best practices that I’m about to teach you in this episode, so that you can really increase the likelihood that the feedback that you give other people is received as well as it can be.

Again, it’s everyone’s own individual obligation and responsibility to control their emotional experience. I am not wavering on that at all. But what I am saying, is that when we get down to brass tacks, chances are not everyone’s doing that effectively.

We want to make sure we do everything in our ability to give feedback in, I don’t love this word, but the most constructive way possible. And, make sure that we do everything we can so that our feedback is well received, so it can be implemented and utilized in the most effective manner.

Now, there’s a caveat here, no matter how hard you try, and this might seem a little contradictory to what I just said, no matter how hard you try, you ultimately cannot control another person’s reaction to your actions, to what you say, or what you do. They’re in complete control of the reaction.

You can make the best attempt and undergo the best efforts to ensure that your feedback is well received, and they can still choose not to receive it. Well, that’s in their control, that’s in their power, that’s in their freewill. They still get to control their emotional response and how they act in response to receiving feedback.

These are some best practices that you can follow to make it more likely that the feedback is received well. Okay, step one, or best practice number one, is that you need to check in with yourself before you give the feedback. Ask yourself; how am I feeling in this moment? You want to make sure you find the one-word emotion that you’re experiencing.

If it’s negative, you don’t want to communicate feedback from that place. So, if you’re feeling frustrated, or annoyed, or exasperated, or disappointed, you’re not going to give feedback in the most productive, constructive way. So, you want to find the feeling.

And then, you want to find the thought that you’re thinking, that’s causing you to feel that emotion; what’s the thought? Identify it. It’s probably going to be a judgment of the other person, of what they did, of maybe what they didn’t do. Find that thought.

Chances are, it might even be a ‘should’ thought, which I’ve talked about in previous episodes. if it’s a ‘should’ thought, or another negative thought, I want you to ask yourself; can I change it? Can I replace this negative thought that’s causing this negative feeling, with a more productive thought? With maybe, a little bit more of a neutral thought? I love to think thoughts like: I wonder. I wonder why this person did it this way? I wonder what happened that got us to this current situation?

I also love to think ‘of course’ thoughts. I mentioned both of these tactics in the last episode. “Of course, this happened.” Maybe someone acted on brand and in conformity with how they always act. If they did, you really shouldn’t be all that surprised that you’re being confronted with the situation that you’re being confronted with, in that moment. So, can you get to an ‘I wonder’ thought? Can you get to an ‘of course’ thought?

I also just love to think that people are generally doing the best that they can, under the given circumstances. Maybe that gets you to a place where you feel a little bit of compassion, instead of those more negative emotions that I mentioned a moment ago.

Whatever the case is, you want to find the thought and find that feeling. And then, see if you can switch it out to get to a place where you’re thinking something a little bit more neutral, and feeling more neutral. You want to feel, maybe, understanding, or accepting, or curious, or motivated, or committed, any of those emotions will really serve you as you go about giving feedback.

Alright, step number two, you want to ask yourself some questions. First question I want you to ask yourself is what biases are you bringing with you into this situation? I’ve talked in the podcast before, about the labels that we assign other people and the judgments we make, and how those labels and judgments taint all of our encounters with the people in our lives.

So, if you have a really negative story that you’re telling yourself about the person that you’re about to give feedback to, it’s probably tainting the situation. What are your judgments of them? What do you think of them? Find the bias that you may be bringing with you into that situation. And, can you put a pin in it? Can you table it?

Ask yourself; how would you show up in this moment? How would you deliver the feedback? Or, would you even deliver the feedback, if you didn’t have that negative judgment about them? I also want you to ask yourself; do I have enough information here? Am I making any assumptions, maybe about what their motives are? What drove them to take whatever action they did or to not take a certain action? What information might you need?

Identify questions that you may want to ask to fill in the blanks. Maybe, before you go give the feedback. You also want to ask yourself; what result do I want to create in this encounter, in this exchange? Think about both the short-term and the long-term result that you want to create. And that’s going to inform both how you give the feedback, maybe what feedback you give, it’s going to be really instructive here.

Now, once you get clear on the result that you want to create, we’re going to work backwards. That’s the next step. Let’s call it step number three. I want you to decide on what you want to say when you communicate the feedback. Get really clear on exactly what you want to communicate.

Then once you’ve figured out the words that you want to say, I want you to find your ‘why’. Ask yourself; why do I want to say this? I want you to be brutally honest here. And then decide, do you like that reason? Does that reason, and does what you want to say, support your desired result? Or, are these things in conflict? Is what you want to say to the person really unlikely to lead you to creating the desired result?

Now this next step, step four, is pretty nuanced, but it’s really important. I want you to think about how the feedback, that you’ve decided upon in the previous step, I want you to think about how it’s likely to be received. And listen, I get it, we’re not mind reader’s. We don’t know for certain. But you are a human being, and you know what it’s like to operate in the world.

I’ve also talked to you a great deal about people’s likely response patterns. I want you to think about how is the person likely to feel when they receive that feedback? And, what will that feeling, that they’re feeling, drive them to do? What action will drive them to take? What results will it ultimately produce? I want you to remember; negative feelings drive people to take negative action, or no action. And negative action, or no action, is going to produce a negative result.

We can’t shame someone into improving; it just doesn’t work like that. So, if you ask yourself, you’ve decided upon saying whatever you’re going to say, and when you ask yourself; how is this person likely to receive this message?

If you think they’re going to receive it negatively, and they’re going to feel really negative emotions as a result, because they’re thinking really negatively about the feedback, or they’re thinking really negatively about themselves, they’re probably going to take a negative action, or no action. And, it’s not going to create the desired result that you want to create.

I get that this is really contrary to what a lot of us were taught, right? We were taught that you just need to light a fire under someone’s ass. And normally what we mean by that is, say something negative to them, kind of give them a talking to, a lecture, give them some “constructive criticism”, which really is just negative feedback. And they’ll course correct, they’ll do better.

But that’s not how human beings work. Right? A negative feeling’s going to drive negative action or no action. So, you want to think about; how do you want the person to feel? Maybe you want them to feel encouraged or motivated. What would they need to think about the feedback they receive, in order to feel motivated and encouraged? What would the feedback need to look like, for it to be easy for them to think those types of thoughts about the feedback they’re receiving? Really work through that.

They need to, maybe, think that this person has my back. This person is looking out for me. They’ve got my best interests at heart. They want to help me improve. They’re in this with me. They’re committed. Thoughts like that. They might need to think; it’s okay that I made a mistake. I’m learning. It’s okay for me to fumble sometimes. This isn’t the end of the world.

Think about how would you have to structure the feedback, to make it easy for people to think those types of thoughts? Instead of, really negative thoughts, like I’m a failure. I’m dropping the ball. Why can’t I figure this out? I should be further along. I shouldn’t be struggling with this. I’m pathetic. I’m inadequate.

If they’re likely to think those thoughts, based on the feedback that they receive from you, it’s not going to go well from there. They might shut down, they might procrastinate, they might withdraw, they might get defensive, that doesn’t lead to anything good. It’s definitely not the result you’re probably hoping to create by giving them that feedback.

Once you’ve identified what you want to say to them, go through it: Ask yourself; how are they likely to receive this? What are they most likely to think when they hear this from me, or read this from me? How ever you communicate the feedback. How are they most likely to feel as a result of thinking those thoughts? And then, based on that feeling, what are they most likely to do or not do? And, what result is that going to produce?

If you don’t like your answers to those questions, you want to go back to the drawing board and come up with a different way to communicate that feedback, or a different way to phrase that feedback altogether.

Once you’ve gone through all of that, then you’re going to finally start the conversation, with the person that you’re giving feedback to, whether that is an in-person conversation, over the phone, via email, whatever; you’re going to start the conversation. And if we’re being really honest, I work with a ton of people who have a lot of mind drama about emails.

I will probably do a whole episode on how emails have no tone, they’re neutral. And, we just think thoughts about them. But with that being said, it’s one of the points that I make that people argue with me about the most. So, maybe email’s not the best for giving negative feedback, right? Maybe we want to have that conversation in person or over the phone, that might help you out.

So, start the conversation. You’re going to start, and keep in mind those questions that you identified earlier that you may want to ask. Do you need more information? Do you want to know more about what happened, how you got to this point? Go ahead and ask all of those questions that you identified, and gather that additional information that may be relevant to the situation.

Once you’ve gathered that additional information, I want you to then decide if feedback still makes sense. Okay, maybe it will, maybe it won’t. You might have learned something new, and it put it in a completely different context, and you’re like, “I totally understand what happened,” and there’s no need to deliver that negative feedback.

But if you still feel as though it’s necessary to deliver that feedback, here’s what I want you to do next, this part is vital. I want you to get consent. Giving feedback that wasn’t consented to, that a person didn’t have an opportunity to opt into receiving, is a recipe for disaster; it’s going to feel like a punch to the gut, probably.

They weren’t expecting it, they didn’t have an opportunity to prepare themselves. You want to make sure you get consent and give people an opportunity to opt in to receiving whatever your comments are.

Also, they may not want the feedback. Sometimes, that happens. So, if they tell you ‘no’; they don’t want the feedback, they don’t want to hear your opinion, they don’t want to hear what you have to say, I want you to take a deep breath and just accept and honor their answer. Not everyone wants to know your two cents, even if you’re trying to be helpful.

You know, I work with a lot of people on self-confidence issues. And even though you may have really great intentions, you’re trying to help them, the negative feedback that they receive may be so harmful to their self-concept and to their self-confidence, that it may not do them any good.

It may cause them to have more self-doubt, to second guess themselves, to really feel embarrassed or insecure, unqualified. So, let people be the best judges of whether or not they are in a best position to receive feedback in the first place.

Now, if you get consent, you ask the person, “Hey, you know, are you interested in my thoughts?” Or, “I have some feedback for you, are you open to getting it?” And they opt in, make sure you don’t give the feedback before you actually get an answer from them. Don’t ask and then just go ahead and give it, that’s still consensual. It’s uninvited behavior until the person gives you an affirmative ‘yes’, and opts in.

Once you get consent from the person, to give them your two cents, then you can go ahead and give them the feedback. Again, step number one was check-in with yourself. Make sure you’re feeling a feeling that’s going to drive you to give that feedback in a way that serves you, and supports the result that you want to create.

Once you’re taking action from that emotion, you’ve cultivated it, go ahead and give that feedback. You’re in that positive energy, that positive feeling, take action and deliver the feedback from that space. And then, what I want you to do, I want you to get curious.

That’s one of my favorite emotions and one of my favorite activities; operating from curiosity instead of from judgment. Get curious with the person, and ask questions to understand how you or they reached the current result. Figure out the actual problem, you have to be curious with this.

You actually have to care what the underlying problem is. If you don’t care, it’s going to come across… If you’re like, “I don’t want to deal with this, I just want you to do better,” you’re probably not going to actually solve anything. So, you do, probably want to care and make it your business to find out what the actual underlying problem is.

Identify that problem, and I want you to be as specific as possible. If you were giving feedback to someone about their timeliness or their ability to follow through and hit an internal deadline, maybe someone you’re working with is struggling with that.

A lot of people will just turn around and say, “You know this isn’t working. You’re not measuring up. You’re not hitting internal deadlines, do better.” That’s not the best way to go about giving feedback here. Number one, it’s probably quite likely that the person who is hearing that is going to think really negative thoughts about themselves, once they hear that.

They’re going to feel discouraged and maybe embarrassed; probably isn’t going to lead to anything good. They’re not going to speak up. They’re not going to explain why they’re struggling with whatever it is they’re struggling with. They might withdraw. They might procrastinate some more. Again, none of that is going to produce the result you want to create.

So, instead of giving feedback like that, you might want to get into a place where you feel curious, or understanding, or accepting. And then, from there, ask questions. Deliver the feedback that you want them to improve, and they’re missing the mark. But then, get curious and figure out why they’re missing the mark. What’s the underlying problem here? Why are they struggling with hitting internal deadlines? Ask them to explain it to you.

If they struggle, try brainstorming with them: Is it because they’re underestimating how long assignments are going to take them? Why are they not communicating? How are they feeling? Are they uncomfortable communicating that they might miss an internal deadline? Are they just underestimating how long everything’s going to take?

Or, are they people pleasing and taking things on, or reshuffling their schedule, and the thing that they’re late on just keeps getting pushed to the back of their to-do list? Maybe that’s what’s going on because they’re unwilling to say ‘no’ and unwilling to feel guilty. You want to figure out whatever the underlying problem is because there’s going to be a different solution, depending on which specific problem you’re encountering.

Once you’ve identified that problem, the last step here, for giving feedback is to get a game plan with the person. I want you and them to decide what specifically, will change, what you guys will do differently in order to remedy the situation going forward. Everyone should be clear on exactly what you’ll do differently, in order to create the result you ultimately want to create, instead of the result that you’re currently dealing with.

Get that game plan; make sure everyone’s on the same page. And that way, your feedback is really useful and productive. You’ve given it, it was consensual, it came from a really good place energetically, and it’s specific enough and solution oriented to actually remedy the underlying issue, to course correct and get you where you ultimately want to go.

If you follow these steps, again, it’s not going to guarantee that every time you give negative feedback, it’s going to be well-received, but it is much more likely to be taken that way, if you follow these best practices. I wish you the best of luck in communicating any negative feedback, you have to communicate.

That’s what I have for you this week. I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Have a beautiful week.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 19: Accepting Feedback (Without Getting Defensive)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | How to Accept Feedback Without Getting Defensive

The Less Stressed Lawyer | How to Accept Feedback Without Getting Defensive

Most humans struggle with accepting feedback. We frequently receive feedback from supervisors, clients, colleagues, friends, and family. It’s always coming our way and it’s unavoidable, so we need to learn to accept feedback without getting our feathers ruffled.

I came up against this feeling numerous times during my tenure in Big Law. I’d have an idea and be told “no” by one of my supervisors, and I found myself making it mean so many negative things about myself, which immediately put me on the defensive. But of course, these negative thoughts weren’t true, and he was just trying to steer me in the right direction. So, if you feel yourself tense up, immediately getting defensive when someone starts giving you feedback, this episode is for you. 

Receiving feedback can be a nerve-wracking experience, so tune in this week to discover how to stop thinking the worst of the comments and critiques you receive from your superiors. I’m sharing why getting defensive is never going to feel good, and what you can do instead when you get some feedback you don’t immediately love.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. You can get all the information and apply by clicking here

If you enjoyed today’s show, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review! 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Where I’ve experienced serious defensiveness during my career in law.
  • How you make yourself feel when you get defensive and assign negative meaning to a reviewer’s feedback.
  • Why your idea not being accepted doesn’t mean you’re not smart or that your suggestion was bad.
  • The importance of working towards a neutral, drama-free space around receiving feedback.
  • Why you don’t need to get defensive and explain yourself, and the learning opportunity that is always available to you in these moments.
  • How to control the narrative in your brain when receiving feedback.
  • 6 steps to getting the outcome you want in feedback situations.

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Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 19. Today I’m teaching you all about how to accept feedback without getting defensive. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hi, how are you? I hope you’re excited for today’s topic.

We’re talking all about accepting feedback without getting defensive. We have a ton to cover so I’m going to dive right in. I’m really excited to talk about this. I know how much people struggle with accepting feedback, and also with giving feedback, for that matter.

I’m going to talk about giving feedback in the next episode. I’m going to give some guidance on my top tips and suggestions, and how you want to approach it so it’s received as well as it possibly can be. Of course, we can’t control people’s responses, but we can undergo our best efforts and follow some best practices in order to make sure it’s well received.

But today, we’re not talking about giving feedback; we’re talking about accepting it. The reason I want to start here, is because we frequently receive feedback from clients, from supervisors, from colleagues, from friends, from family members, it feels like it’s always coming our way. So, we need to know how to receive feedback without getting our feathers ruffled.

Before we get started, I want you to think to yourself for a minute: On a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest, how would you rate your own ability to receive feedback without getting defensive? Would you rate it higher on the scale? You think you’re really good at it? Do you struggle with this? Do you tend to get those feathers ruffled?

If you do, this is the episode for you. Before I guide you through the steps that I have for you today, I want to give you a little backstory, because as you know, by now, I love a good backstory.

On day three of my tenure in big law, I walked into a partner’s office, he had called me down, and he wanted me to conduct some research for him. So, he gives me the assignment, tells me to go in a bunch of different directions with the legal issue that I was researching, and just come up with any theories that I could think of.

I went back to my office, and spent a couple of days researching, and then I met with him again. I came up with eight different theories or directions to go in. I sat down in his office, in the chair in front of him, I gave him the printout of the email that I had sent with my different ideas. He started going through them one by one by one.

So, as he made his way through the list, I think the first one, he was like, “Yeah, pretty good idea.” Second one, he said ‘no’ and kind of drew an X through it. Third one, he was like, “I like that, let’s research that some more.” The fourth one was like, “That’s pretty good.”

Then, he got to number five, on my list of eight different ideas. I was particularly beholden to number five, I thought it was really smart. I thought it was a great argument to make for what I knew of the case. And again, day three in big law here, so it wasn’t like I was an expert in anything, but I thought it was a good idea. He very quickly just simply said ‘no,’ crossed it out, and moved on to the next one.

A few seconds passed, and before he had a chance to say anything about item number six on my list, I started to explain myself. I started to explain my thought process, explain why I included number five on the list, why I thought it was a good idea. I just started to explain, explain, explain. And that’s when he said it; he just looked up from the sheet of paper that he was going through, with the list of my research ideas, and very calmly he said, “You don’t need to get defensive.”

I remember hearing that and, in the moment, it felt like such a punch to the gut. That because I had such a negative connotation with getting defensive. My immediate thought was, “Defensive feels so weak,” and weak was the last thing I wanted to be, especially in front of this partner, right?

He went through the rest of the list, but all I could think about is, “You don’t need to be so defensive. You don’t need to be so defensive.” I went back to my office and that was still replaying in my mind, “Was I defensive? I don’t think I was defensive. I might have been defensive.” I was just really questioning myself, and I decided to just sit with it for a second once I got back to my office.

When I gave myself that opportunity to just take a deep breath, decompress and examine the exchange that had just taken place, here’s what I settled on: The partner was right. I was defensive in that moment. He got to number five, he dismissed it, for whatever reason, and I started to get defensive and explain why I included that, why I thought my reasoning was right. Why it was a good idea.

I asked myself, “Why did I get defensive?” And this is what I realized, I was explaining myself, and my thought process, and my reasoning because I want wanted him to think that I was smart. I took his comment, just the ‘no,’ that’s all he said, I took it to mean that my suggestion was a bad idea. I made it mean that he thought the idea was stupid. He didn’t say that. Right? He simply said, “No.”

My adorable brain gave meaning to the ‘no,’ and I made a logical leap. I took it a step too far. I read facts into the record that really weren’t there. I made his ‘no’ mean that he thought the suggestion was stupid. When I thought that, I felt really insecure and inadequate, and a little embarrassed, probably. And then, I started to explain myself to get out of that emotion, in order to convince him that I wasn’t stupid, and that my idea was intelligent.

As I reflected on this exchange, I started to ask myself; why would I make it mean, just a simple ‘no,’ why would I make it mean that he thinks my idea’s stupid? There are so many other things that I could choose to think instead of that very negative thought, that I also don’t have evidence to support.

Now, had he told me that he thought my idea was actually stupid, then it might be reasonable for me to think that he thinks my idea is stupid. But he didn’t say that, he simply told me ‘no,’ about a particular suggestion I had made. And then, he moved on to considering the other ones that I presented to him, in my little email memo.

There were so many other thoughts that were available to me, other than; he thinks my idea is stupid, or he thinks I’m stupid, or that I’m not smart, right? Why not choose one of those thoughts instead? So, this became such a valuable learning moment for me. I learned not to give meaning, that isn’t there, to any feedback that I receive. Take the feedback very literally. Don’t assign extra meaning to it, with my adorable thoughts that my primitive brain serves up to me.

And, instead of thinking that there’s anything wrong with receiving feedback, can I switch to an alternate thought? Something along the lines of: Of course, he’s giving me feedback, he’s my supervisor. I’m here to learn and he’s here to teach me. He has a lot more experience than I do at this, so of course, he’s going to steer me and guide me in the right direction. And not all of my ideas are going to be accepted. That doesn’t mean I’m not smart. That doesn’t mean a suggestion was stupid. It just means he’s imparting some of his expertise on to me, this is how I learn.

Now, ever since that happened, I’ve carried that thought with me. Every time I get feedback now, I don’t make it mean anything other than what the person actually said. I don’t explain or defend myself; I just learn.

I’ve also learned to ask better questions, because every time I tell this story about the ‘no,’ and the feedback and the meaning that I gave it, people always say, “Well, the partner should have given you more information about why he didn’t think that item number five on the list was a great idea.” And I tend to agree with that, but here’s the thing, I also could have asked, right?

So, we’ll get into that in a second, about the specific steps to follow with getting feedback. Ultimately, the takeaway here, is that you don’t need to get defensive, and you don’t need to explain yourself. There’s always a learning opportunity available to you.

If you struggle with receiving feedback, I get it. I’ve been there and have done that. But you don’t need to get defensive. I just want to state that for the record. I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to teach you exactly how to accept feedback without getting defensive.

Before we walk through the specific steps, I just want to take a second and really highlight why this is so important. Why you really want to make sure you master the skill. Listen, receiving feedback from a partner or a fellow lawyer can really be a nerve-racking experience.

Oftentimes, when our work’s critiqued, we tend to think the worst of whatever our reviewers are saying. We love to jump to conclusions, just like I did in the story that I just told you. We take their critiques as the referenda on our work.

Now, reacting this way is problematic for several reasons. First, when we assign such negative meaning to a reviewer’s feedback, we make ourselves feel terrible, just like I did. The meaning that I gave the feedback, just the simple ‘no,’ I assigned it that extra meaning, and then I made myself feel insecure, and inadequate, and a little embarrassed with my thoughts about the feedback.

You might be doing the exact same thing. You might be making yourself feel insecure or inadequate, misunderstood, or embarrassed, unsupported, or ashamed, based on how you think about the feedback you’re receiving. Remember, it’s not the feedback that’s causing you to feel that way, it’s your thoughts about the feedback.

Moreover, when we experience this kind of negative emotional response, in any given feedback situation, we tend to not respond well. Because remember, I told you this before, if you’re thinking a negative thought about the feedback, you’re going to feel a negative feeling. And you’re going to take a negative action, or no action.

Oftentimes, people will get defensive or beat themselves up and miss the opportunity to grow and learn. In other instances, a negative experience receiving feedback on one assignment will impact other work. Instead of negatively reacting and getting defensive and explaining yourself, like I did, it might lead you to start to shut down and just resist and avoid those negative feelings that you start to experience through procrastination, self-sabotage, and other avoidant behavior.

Whether you’re negatively reacting in an impulsive manner, explaining yourself, getting defensive, or you’re starting to withdraw, avoid and shut down, none of that’s good. Luckily, with the right strategy, you can control how you respond to receiving feedback.

So, to put your best foot forward and to continue to develop the skills you need for a thriving legal practice, the next time you receive feedback, you want to follow these steps.

Step one, first thing’s first, you want to make up your own mind. Before you submit any assignment or work product, on which you’re likely to receive feedback, I want you to decide for yourself how you think you did. You never want to let the first opinion you receive about your work be someone else’s opinion, you want to anchor your belief in yourself, first.

Doing that, will allow you to control the narrative during the feedback experience, and therefore control your emotional state through the process. This might sound like a silly analogy, but think of a glass of water. And then, think of the positive opinions about your work like blue dye, and negative opinions about your work as red dye. If you add your own opinion about your work first, perhaps you’ll add several drops of blue dye and maybe one or two drops of red.

You’ve decided first, and you’ve anchored the color of the water; it’s going to be a little bit more blue. Now, if someone else comes in with a negative comment about your work, their comment hasn’t changed the water read. If they add a little red dye, it’s just going to make the water a little less blue.

To make up your own mind first, you want to answer these questions: Are you proud of the work you’ve done? Don’t be unduly harsh or overly critical here. Just be honest. Identify the work product’s strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself and answer: What did you do well? What could you improve upon? We talked about this in last week’s episode about evaluating; what worked, what didn’t work, what would you do differently.

If you decide for yourself first, any feedback you do receive will have less of an impact. Asking and answering these questions yourself, before you submit work product for review, will also help you improve your work pre-submission, because it’s going to help you identify deficient areas that you may be able to improve upon before you submit the project for review.

Having done this will also enable you to ask targeted questions when you’re submitting something to your reviewer. If you’re questioning a particular portion of the project, you can just ask for pinpointed feedback on that section, if you’re doubting yourself. Remember, if you want better answers, you have to ask better questions.

Assessing your own work before you receive external feedback, allows you to ask targeted questions that will accelerate your learning and professional development. Another reason to self-assess is that oftentimes, you’ll actually find out that you agree with the person giving the feedback.

When you’ve made the assessment of yourself first, instead of taking the critique personally, you might simply see that you both agree that one or two sections of your work product could be improved upon. You might have a lot in common, as far as your feedback goes. In that case, amazing. Great minds think alike.

I see this so often when I’m coaching a client who’s received feedback. I’ll ask them, “Okay, well, do you actually agree? Do you think they totally got it wrong? Or, do you kind of see what they’re saying?” It’s so fascinating to watch my clients respond. They’re like, “Yeah. Well, I kind of did agree with it. It just felt awful.” And it’s like, “Okay, naturally.” It’s alright, if it doesn’t feel super comfortable receiving feedback that you don’t consider to be positive.

But you dialed down the discomfort of receiving it so significantly, when you actually see that you agree with the person. You make that process so much easier to achieve or access, if you make up your own mind first, before you receive the feedback. So, the feedback’s coming in, and they’re just agreeing with what you’ve already decided, rather with their opinion being the first one that comes in.

That being said, the step is still crucial, even if you don’t see eye to eye with the reviewer’s feedback. Making up your own mind first, puts you in the best mindset to receive feedback, and leverage it to learn the most from it. It also helps you build your self-confidence by teaching you to form your own opinions, and establish trust with yourself when it comes to your own work product.

So, you want to make sure you’re making up your own mind first, then you move to step two, which is find the facts. Once you’ve received feedback, you want to start by separating the facts from the story you’re telling yourself about them. More often than not, when someone says something to us, we instantly assign meaning to what they’ve said. Just like I did, when I heard the ‘no’ from the partner in the story, that I told you a moment ago.

Then, we use that assigned meaning in place of their words when we recount the events in our heads. Spoiler alert, and I’ve said this to you before, our brains aren’t always truth tellers. And sometimes they have a flair for the dramatics, here. All I got was a simple ‘no,’ that’s all the partner said, and I made it mean so many other things.

For example, envision a scenario where a partner reviews an associate’s work, and asks the associate to find a different case to support an argument in the brief. Or, to find a different clause to include in a contract, if you’re on the transactional side of things. Maybe this is in person, maybe it’s in an email.

If the email reads something like, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument.” When the associate reads the email, the associate might think, “The partner thinks I’m not a good researcher.” Or, if it’s a transactional assignment, “The partner thinks I’m not a good drafter.” Or, they might even take the partner out of it, and just make it mean that they aren’t a good researcher, they’re not a good drafter. Even though the partner didn’t say that.

The supervising attorney merely asked the associate to either find a better case or find a better clause. That’s all we know. That’s the circumstance. So, you want to make sure you separate the facts from the thoughts, from the story you’re telling about them, and stick simply with the circumstance.

Then, step three; identify your emotions. After you’ve received feedback, if you feel like I did in that moment, like you’ve taken a punch to the gut, I want you to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Remember, you want to find the one-word emotion that you’re experiencing in that moment? Do you feel embarrassed? Do you feel ashamed? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel worried? Make sure you find that the one-word feeling.

How? If you struggle to put your emotional experience into words, I highly recommend conducting a quick Google™ search, it can be a huge help. Google a feelings wheel or a list of emotions, and scan through it. See which ones resonate with you the most, in that moment.

You want to get better and more skilled at identifying the specific feeling you’re feeling. It’s going to help you create so much awareness as to what’s going on in that brain of yours when you receive feedback. So, in the example I just gave you where the partner says, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument, or find a better clause to include in the contract,” you might be feeling, if you’re on the receiving end of that email, that statement, that piece of feedback, you might be feeling inadequate.

Now, why is it so important to name the emotion and to accurately identify it? Identifying the emotions you experience is so vital to receiving feedback, in a way that serves you and supports your long-term career goals. Because all of the action that you take or don’t take is caused by the emotions you experience.

So, if you’re feeling a negative feeling, like I said earlier, you will most likely take a negative action or no action at all. If you’re feeling inadequate, your default response is probably not going to be a productive one. You’re either going to withdraw, or you’re going to get defensive. Also, putting a name on your negative emotions helps you identify the thinking that’s causing your negative emotional response.

Contrary to popular belief, circumstances don’t cause your feelings, we’ve talked about that a ton on the podcast, your thoughts do. Now, when you receive feedback, oftentimes, you have a like guttural response to it. So, it may be easier for you to identify the emotion you’re feeling first, as opposed to identifying the thought first.

If that’s the case, that’s not a problem, just start with a feeling. And once you’ve identified how you’re feeling in that moment, you can use that as a clue, as intel, to identify the thinking that’s causing that emotional response.

Which brings us to step four; you want to examine your thoughts about the feedback. Now that you’ve identified your feelings about the feedback, you want to figure out, what’s the thought you’re thinking that’s causing you to feel that emotion? You can do this, just by asking yourself, “What am I making this person’s feedback mean about me?”

This will show you the thinking that’s causing that emotional experience that you’re encountering. Not only is it important to identify your thoughts about the feedback you receive, because your thoughts cause your feelings, your thoughts, ultimately create your results. You’ve heard me say that time and time again by now.

So, if you’re thinking a negative thought, you’re going to feel a negative feeling. And if you’re feeling a negative feeling, you’re most likely going to take a negative action or no action at all. And by taking a negative action or no action, you’ll produce a negative result. That’s all to say, your thoughts matter, a lot here.

To ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward, when you’re receiving feedback, you need to be aware of those default thoughts that are coming up for you. What are you making the person’s feedback mean? And the example that we’ve been working through, where the partner says, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument. See if you can find a better clause to include in this contract,” the associate may feel inadequate, because they may be making it mean that the partner thinks that they’re not a good researcher, or that they’re not a good drafter.

In this scenario, and this is the process that you want to walk yourself through when you get feedback, the circumstance is just what the partner said, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument. See if you can find a better clause to include in this contract.” The thought that the person receiving the feedback might think is, “The partner thinks I’m not a good researcher, or I’m not a good drafter,” and then they feel inadequate.

You just want to really get clear on that causal relationship. What are the facts? What’s the thought you’re thinking about the fact, about the feedback? And how is that thought making you feel?

Now, step five; you want to resist the urge to defend yourself or beat yourself up. Once you receive feedback that you perceive to be negative, your natural instinct might be to defend yourself, or to beat yourself up, bully yourself, kind of be a mean girl or a mean guy in that head of yours. Just to talk to yourself with some really negative self-talk.

I want you to resist the urge to do both, or either; to defend yourself or to beat yourself up. When we get defensive, we stop listening. And what happens is that we reduce our ability to learn or become better attorneys as a result. We also prevent ourselves from understanding the other person’s position.

Maybe they see something we don’t. Perhaps they have a piece of information that we haven’t been made privy to. When we get defensive or we just start beating ourselves up, we reduce our ability to access this information, especially when we start arguing our point and getting defensive.

Same thing with beating ourselves up, it doesn’t do us any good. Shame and growth don’t coexist, because if you’re feeling that negative emotion, you’re not going to take a positive action. So, thinking about yourself in a really negative manner, is only going to make you feel worse, which in turn is going to cause you to show up worse.

If you want to show up well, you can’t beat yourself up along the way. Instead of taking action in a default pattern; feeling inadequate and beating yourself up, distracting yourself, engaging in negative self-talk, maybe defending yourself, over-explaining, withdrawing at work, procrastinating on other assignments… Instead of doing that, which the only thing you’re going to do, if you take those actions, is to not learn and not improve, I want you to resist the urge to go down that path.

And instead, pause, just take a breath. Think about how you want to show up in this moment, having received feedback. Defending yourself probably won’t create the result you want. Every once in a while, you may disagree with feedback you receive, and believe that, in this example, the case or the clause you’ve selected is actually the best option. And that making a change and following the partner’s instructions would be a disservice to the client or to whatever piece of work product that you’re working on.

In those situations, I want you to check in with how you’re feeling before you advocate your stance. If you’re feeling defensive, misunderstood, or frustrated, you want to make sure you shift into different energy before you make your case. Before you advocate for your position, get curious about the person who’s giving you the feedback. Get curious about their position. Ask questions. Gain a better understanding. Become more aware.

You might want to take a second or two, to gather your thoughts and organize your argument, before you go in and advocate your position. Then, from a much more intentional place, you can approach the person who gave you the feedback with that strongest case for why you think your position should prevail. And the example that we keep working through why your case or clause should be included.

Taking action when you feel confident and compelled, is going to have a much different impact than doing so when you feel righteous and frustrated. Now, in order to change how you feel, to get out of that negative feeling and into a more positive emotion, you need to change how you think.

Which brings us to step six; you want to reframe your thinking. In order to create the result that you want, in any given feedback situation, you need to intentionally select your thoughts. Remember? That’s because your thoughts create your results.

Now, if you’re thinking a negative thought, like I said, you’ll feel a negative feeling, you’ll take negative action or no action, and you’ll produce a negative result. If you’re thinking a positive thought, you’ll feel a positive feeling, take a positive action, and you’ll produce a positive result.

So, you want to make sure, in feedback situations, you’re reframing your thinking in order to get you to a positive thought. Here’s how you do that. Number one, to reframe your thinking, I want you to consider the source. People are going to have opinions, they’re humans, we can put in parentheses, unfortunately. So, they get to have them. But that’s just how it works. People are going to have opinions.

You get to decide whether you give their opinions any weight. In deciding exactly how much weight to give an opinion, I want you to consider the source. Is this person a supervisor? If so, maybe they have more experience, and they’re trying to teach you something. Is this peer? If so, perhaps they’re trying to help you.

Is the person that’s giving you feedback a friend or a family member? If so, maybe they feel worried for you or concerned, and they’re reacting from that emotion. Is this person a client? If so, maybe they’re nervous about the outcome of a case, or afraid about what might come in the future.

Considering the source allows you to put the feedback into perspective, and it helps you move closer to feeling understanding, instead of feeling those negative emotions that you experience as soon as you received the feedback.

You can also just choose to not give weight to opinions that come from people who haven’t done what you’re doing, or what you’re attempting to do. You don’t have to make their opinions mean anything about you. You can literally just discount them; you always get to decide. So, consider the source and then decide if you want to give the sources opinion any weight.

Next, to reframe your thinking, I want you to decide on the result that you intentionally want to create instead. Do you want to defend your point? Or, do you want to create the best work product? Those two things may be at odds with one another. Do you want to learn and improve? Or, do you want to be defensive and argue or debate?

When you identify the desired result that you want to create, what you end up doing is you illuminate the action that you need to take, in order to accomplish and achieve that result. If you want to defend your point, the action that you’re going to take will be to defend your work. If you want to learn, improve your skills, and create the best work product possible, you’re probably not going to take the action of getting defensive. You’re going to get curious, instead.

When you get defensive, you don’t learn anything. If you truly want to learn and improve, then you need to stop explaining yourself, because that’s not how you learn. That’s how you defend. Defending yourself teaches you nothing. In order to learn, you need to operate from curiosity. So that’s what you need to do next, you need to get curious.

Now, what exactly does getting curious look like? It looks like asking a lot of questions. Instead of explaining why you included a certain clause in the contract or case in an argument section of a brief, I want you to ask why the partner nixed it. Just like I could have asked the partner why he didn’t think item number five was a good idea. That’s how you’ll learn.

Have the person tell you exactly how they came to the conclusion. Whatever conclusion they made in their feedback. Come to understand their analysis. Maybe they’ve handled a previous matter where this issue, the exact same issue, came up before. What did they learn that’s informing their decision now? That’s the intel that you want to get.

If a peer is giving you advice, ask them what they’ve previously encountered, to see if they have experience in this area. That’ll inform how much weight you give their opinion. If a friend or family member’s giving you negative feedback, feedback that you perceive to be negative, because of course, it’s always just a thought. But if you perceive it to be negative, ask them how they’re feeling. What are they concerned about? Learn what’s driving them.

If a client’s complaining about something, ask them why. What are they concerned about? How are they feeling? Are they afraid, nervous, frustrated, maybe? Then, ask them why. Once you find out the feeling, just ask them why they’re feeling that way. What are they afraid might happen? What are they nervous about? Why might they be frustrated? What do they want you to know? Help them help you by asking them questions from curiosity, not from judgment.

If you ask questions to any of the people I just listed; a supervisor, a peer, a friend or a family member, a client, any of those people, from judgment, it will come off that way. It’s like bad perfume or bad cologne. You want to truly be curious. Ask those questions. Gather more information. Let it inform how you want to proceed, and how you want to value or weigh the feedback you’ve received thus far.

Then, you want to find an alternate thought. If you want to create a positive result, by taking positive curious action, you need to feel curious and understanding. In order to feel curious and understanding, you need to think thoughts that cause you to feel those feelings. In order to do this, I want you to ask yourself; what can I think about the exact same circumstance, the feedback I received, in order to cultivate those emotions? What do I need to think about the feedback, in order to feel curious and understanding?

Thoughts that start with ‘of course,’ will often help you feel understanding: Like, of course, they gave me this feedback. Of course, they’re giving me this direction or guidance. Of course, they are going to give me feedback through my supervisor. That’s literally their job.

That will help you feel understanding. Or, of course they’re saying this because they feel nervous. Of course, they’re telling me this because they’re trying to be helpful. Whether or not it actually is helpful, is an argument for a different day. But if you can get yourself to an ‘of course’ thought it will help you conjure the feeling of understanding.

Thoughts that start with ‘I wonder’ will usually generate a feeling of curiosity: I wonder why they’re telling me this? I wonder why they said that? I wonder what they know that I might not know? All those ‘I wonder’ thoughts will conjure up a feeling of curiosity. So, use these sentence starters as prompts, and complete the sentences in order to cultivate those emotions for yourself.

Whatever the feedback is that you received, just finish the sentence. “Of course, they said that…” fill in the blank. Or, take the piece of feedback and finish the sentence, “I wonder what…” fill in the blank. That will help you feel more understanding and feel more curious about the feedback that you’ve received.

Another way to slip into feeling curious is to ask more questions. What does the partner see that perhaps you don’t? What are they worried about? What might they be wanting to achieve by making the change that they suggested? What are they looking for?

If you struggle with answering these questions yourself, excellent. That just means you’ve uncovered an opportunity to operate from curiosity and gather more information from the person who gave you the feedback, by asking more illuminating questions.

So, if you don’t know what they want to achieve by making the change, go ask them. If you don’t know what they’re looking for, go ask them. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s just an opportunity.

Now, an example of an alternative thought, and the example that we’ve been working through where the partner says, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument, or a better clause to include in this contract.” You could think a thought something along the lines of, “Of course, the partner’s giving me feedback. They’re my supervisor, I’m here to learn. They’re just here to teach me,” and it might make you feel understanding.

And the action that you’re going to take in that situation, is to not get defensive, to not beat yourself up, and to just focus on the work and make revisions, the suggested revisions. What result do you create when you do that? You show up and learn. You receive the feedback without getting defensive, and you allow the partner to teach you something.

Another option for an alternative thought here might be, same exact circumstance, you might think, “I wonder why he thinks a different case or clause would be better?” And that ‘I wonder’ thought is going to make you feel curious. And when you’re operating from curiosity, what you’re probably going to do, is not get defensive or beat yourself up, but instead, ask for additional feedback or insight.

As a result, you’re going to learn from the partner and make the additional work easier, because you’ve gained a little bit more clarity. Now, once you’ve changed your thinking, you’ve changed your entire feedback experience. Because your thoughts create your results, right? Your thoughts cause your feelings, your feelings drive your actions, and your actions produce your results.

So, if you change your thoughts about the feedback you receive, everything else will change, too. Remember, you get to choose what to think about the feedback that you get. That means you always get to choose to settle upon a thought that serves you. If you want to think negative thoughts about the feedback you receive, you totally can. You get to choose to do exactly that.

You just want to know and like your reasons for making that choice if it’s the choice you make. Start by asking yourself; does it serve me to think negative thoughts about the feedback that I just got? If the thought doesn’t serve you, if your answer to that question is ‘no,’ I highly recommend, don’t continue to choose thinking it, if it doesn’t serve you. Ultimately, you get to choose.

Those are the steps to accepting feedback without getting defensive. I just want to go over them, really briefly, once more, so they stay fresh in your mind. Step one; before you open yourself up to getting feedback, make up your own mind first, about how you think you did. Then, submit it for feedback.

When you get the feedback, step two; you want to find the facts. Figure out exactly what the person said. Separate the facts from the story that you’re telling about yourself. So, find just the words they said, what their exact feedback was.

Step three; identify your emotions. How are you feeling? Find those one-word feelings. Identify them very specifically, so you can gain some more awareness.

And then, in step four; work it backwards. Ask yourself, examine your thoughts. What are you thinking that’s making you feel this way?

Step five; once you’ve gotten clear on the thoughts that you’re thinking, and that are making you feel the negative feelings, I want you to freeze and resist the urge to defend yourself or beat yourself up. And instead, I want you to take a breath and move into step six, and reframe your thinking.

How do we do that? We consider the source that we got the feedback from. We decide on the result we want to intentionally create instead, and work backwards. What do we need to do in order to create that result? How do we need to feel? And what do we need to think?

I also want you to get curious, as part of this process. Get curious about the feedback and conjure up a sense of understanding and curiosity, and then find an alternate thought to think instead. A positive thought that creates the result you want to create in that moment. Rather than the negative result of beating yourself up or getting defensive.

Alright, my friends, you’ve got this. That’s what I have for you this week. Have a beautiful week, and I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

 

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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Episode 18: Sunday Self-Audits

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Sunday Self-Audits

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Sunday Self-Audits

How often do you take the time to reflect on your week and consider everything that happened? Sometimes the simple, straightforward processes are the most impactful, and this week, I’m sharing a tool with you that will help you evaluate, make improvements, and stop going through life on autopilot.

Sunday self-audits are simple, straightforward weekly evaluations that help you figure out where you need to make changes or improvements to your projects and goals. You can do them any day of the week, and they consist of three questions to help you evaluate each week and stay in the winning or learning process.

Join me this week as I share what a Sunday self-audit is, how to do one, and how doing this exercise can change everything for you. Find out what you can gain from doing a Sunday self-audit, and why doing them is a sure-fire way to live a more intentional life and get further faster.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. You can get all the information and apply by clicking here

If you enjoyed today’s show, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review! 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why beating yourself up and being a bully to yourself doesn’t serve or motivate you.
  • The importance of celebrating your wins.
  • How to have a curious mindset when you do this work.
  • Why there is no such thing as failure.
  • The importance of focusing on the good as well as the bad.
  • How I make improvements to the way I show up in my life and business.
  • The reason Sunday self-audits are so helpful.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review
  • If you want more information about the Less Stressed Lawyer mastermind, visit my LinkedIn, my Instagram, or email me!
  • Get on my email list!
  • Click here to download the free worksheet to help you with Sunday self-audits.

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 18. We’re talking all about Sunday self-audits. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hey there, how we doing? I am so good. I hope you are, too.

I have so much that I am celebrating over here. I’m going to tell you all about it, for just a second. First of all, I am celebrating the completion of the Mastermind Live event that I did last week; you guys, it was so amazing! It was absolutely wonderful seeing everyone in person, getting them all in the same room with me and with one another. That was so neat. I just loved it; the dinners were great. The learning was great. The camaraderie and the collaboration were so incredible, as well.

I just loved all of it. I’m already looking forward to the next one. And if you’re like, “Damn, I don’t want to miss out on all the action next time,” make sure you’re on the wait-list for the next round of the Mastermind.

You can get on the wait-list, for the next round of The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind, by visiting my website, TheLessStressedLawyer.com, or by going to the link in my Instagram bio, and my handle’s @thelessstressedlawyer. So, either of those ways; you can get on the wait-list, so you stay up to speed about all of the details.

You know what else I’m celebrating? I’m like, so excited about this. I finally achieved something huge that I’ve been working on in my business for about a year now. This is the first week that I have achieved and will enjoy a four-day work week. What? I know, how amazing is that?

I set this goal in motion about a year ago. I decided that I wanted to only work Monday through Thursday. I didn’t want to decrease my income at all, but I didn’t want to work Fridays; I want to just have Fridays to myself. And I started making small tweaks and changes over time, in order to accomplish it.

It took me a while. I had to set some boundaries in place. I had to allow myself to feel some discomfort, some guilt, some worry, a little anxiety, all of that was fine. I was able to gag-and-go my way through feeling those feelings. And I finally made it here. I finally blocked off every Friday for the rest of the year, no more work. I do, do webinars on the last Friday of the month, but aside from that, no more work on Fridays.

So, I’m celebrating the living daylights out of that. It’s truly something I couldn’t have imagined for myself a couple of years ago. And, now it’s done. Give that some thought.

Maybe there’s something in your life that you can’t imagine for yourself, right now. Maybe it’s a four-day work week, maybe it’s something totally different. But whatever it is, I just want to offer you, you can make small tweaks and changes over time, and eventually get yourself there. It’s totally possible. If you want my help, that’s what I’m here for.

Now, speaking of help, I’m introducing you to a tool that I use with my clients all the time; something that I teach, that I find to be so helpful. It’s called a Sunday self-audit. Now, what is that? What are Sunday self-audits?

They’re weekly evaluations that you complete. And they’re really simple and straightforward. This is not a complicated process. I call them Sunday self-audits because I love a good alliteration. But if I’m being really honest, you can do them absolutely any day of the week. If you’re not working weekends right now, or that’s something that you’re working on, not working weekends, I might recommend doing your weekly evaluations on Friday afternoons.

Some people that I work with wait until Monday mornings to do them. I don’t love Monday mornings, I’d prefer either a Friday afternoon or a Sunday, probably the middle of the week doesn’t make much sense. But the world is your oyster, you get to pick what day you do your self-audit. I like to do mine on Sundays. That feels good for me.

Now, regardless of what day you pick, you do want to make sure that you stick with doing the self-audits weekly. I find that, that is a frequent enough evaluation cycle for them to be detailed and specific, for you to really be able to use them, and make incremental changes as the weeks go by.

You can do them monthly. I just personally don’t think that’s frequent enough. And most people don’t want to do them daily. I think that’s a little bit of overkill, unless you’re really working on time management, time blocking and not procrastinating. That might be an instance where you do want to do a daily evaluation.

But I like weekly; I think it’s frequent enough. It’s going to be detailed enough because not too much time has passed, so you’re gonna get a lot out of it. You’re going to really drill down into the weeds, identify the problems that are coming up for you, and make very pinpointed, specific changes in order to address those problems and solve for them.

Okay. So how do you do a Sunday self-audit? The process is super simple. It just consists of three questions, and you may have heard me mentioned these before on the podcast. But I did want to devote an entire episode, just a short and sweet little episode to Sunday self-audits, so you know why I suggest doing them, you know how to do them, I walk you through it.

The self-audits consist of three questions: First question is what worked? The second question is what didn’t work? And the third question is what will you do differently?

You don’t need a worksheet to do this, you can just do this yourself on a legal pad or a notebook. But because I love you, I’m putting my worksheet, that I give to my clients, in the show notes for you to download and print if you find it helpful. If you’re like me, and you love a good worksheet, you can go to the website for this episode, download it, and use it to do your own.

I promise you though, completing a Sunday self-audit is not more complicated than asking and answering those three questions. Now, although this is simple, I’ve got one caveat here: Don’t half-ass this process. I’m really tempted, I’m just gonna say it because I can’t stop thinking it, use your whole ass when you do a Sunday self-audit.

Actually answer each of these three questions really thoroughly. Assess what worked. Figure out what went well over the course of the past week. And don’t you dare say “nothing.” So many of my clients love to do that. They always want to say, when I asked them what worked this past week, they want to answer, “Nothing. Nothing worked this week, It’s all gone wrong.” And that’s simply isn’t true.

Our brains love to go to the negative here and bypass the things that did work. But, nope, I’m not going to let that fly. All right? And I don’t want you to let it fly either. I want you to force yourself to find the things that did work, to find the things that you did do well. I don’t care how big or small they are. I want you to make a list. What worked? Celebrate your wins.

Beating yourself up, I’ve talked about this time and time again, over the course of the episodes that I’ve done already, it doesn’t serve you. It doesn’t motivate you. Being mean, being a bully to yourself isn’t a motivator, contrary to popular belief.

You need to be your own hype-person here. You need to celebrate your wins. Focus on what worked, what you did well, and that’s going to set you up to go into identifying what didn’t work, over the course of the past week, from a much more positive place. You’re going to go into that second question with a curious mindset, not a discouraged mindset; not a defeated mindset, not a judgmental mindset.

You want to make sure you build yourself up first, so you can bring a curious, inquisitive mind to identifying and problem solving for what didn’t work. So, that’s where we move next; going to identify specifically what did not work over the course of the past week.

I want you to also ask, as part of that; why didn’t it work? For extra credit here, for my overachievers, you can begin to identify the negative thoughts that you were thinking; that caused problems, maybe the actions that you took that didn’t serve you, or any inaction that you indulged in.

You can also identify the negative feelings that you were unwilling to feel; that you resisted, avoided, or reacted to, that drove you to take actions that didn’t serve you, or to, again, indulge in that inaction. You want to be specific with what didn’t work here. The more specific you are, the easier it’s going to be to problem solve for it. I don’t want you to skimp when it comes to completing this step. Really flesh it out.

Lastly, be just as specific with figuring out what you’ll do differently. So, you’re going to take a look, at that list you made of what didn’t work over the past week, and for each item, you’re going to solve for it. For each thing that didn’t work, ask yourself; what am I going to do differently, in order to get it to work in the week ahead?

Don’t simply say you’re just going to do better next time, or something equally as vague or ambiguous. Be specific here. Come up with a plan that you’re going to implement. And if you aren’t sure what the solution is, for what didn’t work last week, just guess. That’s how you make changes and improvements, you don’t have to know all of the right answers, right?

There may not be a right answer. There may be a lot of different answers, and you get to pick one and test a theory. It’s like science class, experiment here, you guys. Come up with your hypothesis, and then test it out in the week ahead. Going forward, see if it works. And then if it doesn’t, you take another guess and see if that works.

Basically, the process I’m describing to you, is you act, and then you audit, and then you adapt: Act, audit, adapt. Act, audit, adapt. Over and over and over again. If you don’t get it right the first time, you get to take another stab at it. That’s the best news ever, right?

Now, why do you want to do Sunday self-audits? Number one, completing a Sunday self-audit prevents you from going on autopilot. Most of us just go through our day-to-day lives, really unintentionally, proceeding on autopilot. And honestly, how are you going to learn and improve, if you don’t evaluate? Most people just look at their week and say, “No, that didn’t go the way I wanted it to. That didn’t go so well, as I had planned.”

Instead of taking time to do a meaningful evaluation, they basically just shrug their shoulders and say, “I’ll just do better next week. I’ll just do better next time.” But literally, how will you do better? What changes will you implement? What theories will you test out? You want to be answering those questions. You want to know the answers to those questions.

That’s how you improve, instead of just proceeding on autopilot. Proceeding on autopilot really doesn’t pan out in the long run. You don’t get where you want to go. Or, if you do, it’s going to take you a lot longer to get there than if you’re meaningfully evaluating.

The second thing that doing a Sunday self-audit does, is that it forces you to focus on the good, not just the bad. Your brain loves to go directly to what doesn’t work. It likes to bypass what’s working. It has a tendency to go into the negative and focus on that, to spend its time there. You want to direct your brain and focus, be a truth teller, and give equal airtime to both stories.

So, you’re going to start by focusing on what worked. That’s really important. You’re going to feel a lot more confident and feel better about the job you’re doing in your life, when you give equal airtime to what’s working, what you’re doing well, and not just focus on what you’re not doing well. It’s gonna be a big competence boost for you.

This process also makes you look at what you did, that didn’t serve you, other than avoiding it and burying your head in the sand. Sometimes we don’t like to take a look at our behavior, it’s easier to just ignore it entirely. This doesn’t let you do that. It makes you look under the hood of the car, so to speak, and figure out what’s going on, why there’s problems in the first place, what’s causing them.

It makes you become very aware and take a look at what you’re doing, that’s leading to the results that you have, that you may not like. So, again, it’s keeping you intentional. And it also gets you focused on solutions instead of problems. Because of the third question, what are you going to do differently to fix what didn’t work?

You’re focusing on those solutions; on coming up with those theories, testing a hypothesis, implementing, tweaking, improving constantly. Rather than, just dwelling or spinning in what’s not working, and kind of chasing your own tail; not making any improvements, not making any progress.

This process gets you out of that. It forces you to focus on finding a solution and then working on implementing it, and then evaluating again. Also, last but not least, the best part of this process, it keeps you from failing; everyone’s least favorite F-word, certainly mine.

One of the things that I teach my clients is that there’s no such thing as failure. That’s a hard concept for people to grasp. I’ll do an entire episode on it. I’ve just unsubscribed from failure; that it’s something that you can do. I don’t believe in it anymore.

What I teach people is that so long as you don’t quit, you can’t fail. Because failure requires an endpoint from which you measure. So as long as you don’t create an endpoint, by quitting, you can’t ever fail. You’re always just winning or learning. Winning or learning. Winning or learning.

By evaluating each week, you’re staying in that winning or learning process. You’re evaluating, and then constantly taking action, auditing, and then adapting. And the action that you take, you evaluate it again, audit, adapt: Act, audit, adapt. Over and over and over again, so you stay in that winning or learning cycle. You’re just constantly improving.

That way, you’re never failing, right? You’re either winning, or figuring out what’s not working, learning from it, and improving as you put that into practice. It’s a constant self-improvement cycle. That’s what you get when you do these Sunday self-audits.

Now, I know this seems overly simplified, so much so, that you may be tempted to think that doing a Sunday self-audit won’t make a difference. I assure you, it will. Sometimes the simplest, most straightforward processes are the most effective and impactful. This is one of them.

I use evaluations in my business all the time. When I do something big, like the live event that I did for The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind, that gets evaluated through this process; what worked? What didn’t work? What will I do differently? I also do this with the webinars or the public speaking that I do; what worked? What didn’t work? What will I do differently?

I do this with my weeks, generally, on Sundays, like I told you. That’s how I make improvements to the way that I manage my time; how I treat my calendar, or interact with my calendar, how I set up my business, how I split my time between coaching and working with my clients, and doing things like business development, or working on my business behind the scenes.

I also use this process with other goals I set. I’ve used this with; losing weight, or getting organized around my house, decluttering things, reaching financial goals in my life, learning to drink less and change my relationship with alcohol, that’s something that I’ve worked on a ton.

So, you can use this evaluation process both with work and in your personal life. Just evaluate your week, really comprehensively. Focus on work and the personal stuff because it all blends together; one impacts the other and vice versa. But you can use this process to evaluate and make improvements on absolutely anything that you have going on in your life.

Think about it for a second: What goals are you working on right now? What are you working towards accomplishing? Whatever those goals are make sure you make weekly evaluations part of your goal accomplishment process. Figure out what’s working; do more of that, whatever’s working, always do more of it. Then, figure out what’s not working, and very specifically determine what you’ll do differently to solve for what’s not working.

Completing these self-audits is a surefire way to live a much more intentional life and to get further faster.

Alright, that’s what I have for you this week. I hope you have a beautiful week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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