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The Power of Saying "YES"...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Some of the best things in my life when someone answered, "YES"...

or "that's right", or "do this, and then you've got it"

This sprung from the "Leapers, Creepers" thread, but it is a bit of a stretch from that thread. So I thought I would start anew.

For Learners, have you ever asked an educator, "Tell me what I am doing wrong". Perhaps it stems from a "Red Ink" mentality (for me it was English class). (Please, insert your thoughts here)

For Educators (I know you are learners too, but), have you ever been asked, "Tell me what I am doing wrong?"

As an educator, I think to myself, "You really don't want me to tell you all you are doing wrong. It will crush you, even if I say it nicely."
However, what I do tend to say is, "Let's start from what you are doing well. Then find out where we can improve."

The lesson/clinic may then take the direction of, " instead of (X), let's add some of "Y"; or, "Let's play with intensity or duration of (this/these) movements." I know for some it seems like semantics, but (and you may like this one Nolo):

"Successful people don't just do certain things, they do certain things a certain way" - Wallace Wattles (The Science of Getting Rich).
<Gonzo, I still believe Success in Athletics and Sucess in Business, are not all that different >

I look forward to hearing specific examples, and comments.

Best Regards,
Breck SS
post #2 of 16
Semantics? YES but still very important change of thought and result. There have been a few Movement anaylasis threads and this leads to that somewhat. As a society I think it is common for people to say tell me what I am doing wrong. Regardless of how much someone says that, they really don't want to know nor should they know. We used to have error detection now movement anaylisis, my father always used needs anaylisis, I prefer movement observations. The American Ski company had there strenght ID. Sounds a little like Johnathan's comment. It is centered in the idea to promote what people are doing well and improving it further to help the other skills. Take someone from the know to the unknown. For example take the intermediate skier that is windsheld wiping there turns down the hill with the full body rotation that is very common. Instead of saying you are not edging correctly, Tell them they have strong rotary skills and direct the rotation more from the legs as you slow the abruptnes of the action, have them focus on turning the tips of the skis in the direction of travel, this will slow the pushing of the tail and allow them to get some edging thru rotation. Then hone up there edgeing by adding it to thier now quieted turns.

The caution with positive is that it is used correctly and not allowed to be all fluff and they get no constructive advice to guide them to their goals. As a coach and teacher you still need to read what they are doing WRONG. Just don't TELL THEM. Guide them to self discover and the will improve more quickly and it will stick.

I think many people do not like to take lessons because they do not want to be told they are no good or they need to relearn everything they currently know and works for them. That is the challenge in teaching skiing, almost everything someone can do on skis works even if it is not effecient or effective for all conditions and terrain. Your can see some very good skiers that use full body rotation, counter rotation, heel push, rotary push off, down stems, up stems in most of there turns. Yet they ski everywhere and are strong skiers. The challenge is to show people and have them discover there are easier and more effective ways to ski, but what they do now is not bad, heck I still use those moves, they work and have there place from time to time.

So maybe I went off on a tangent I may have to reread what the question was and repost but I have typed to long to start over, sorry!
post #3 of 16
Jlaw- A fun activity to do with people is have someone hold there arm out in front of them and keep saying "keep my arm up" or "strong arm" as you push it down. Then have them say "Don't drop my arm" as you push it down. Samantics? but one works alot better!
post #4 of 16
Originally posted by Todo:
As a coach and teacher you still need to read what they are doing WRONG. Just don't TELL THEM.
I think that in this comment lies the shortcomings of the "quasi-yes" approach. I have met very few people in my life who can use what I consider to be a "true-yes" approach. In the "true-yes" case the teacher, instuctor, coach, friend, or whomever can truly view the givens (NOT deficits) and move forward from there. They can assess people's abilities and strengths and figure out how to use them to produce the desired results.

Lest I sound critical here I don't at all claim to be able to do this very well myself, although when I am able to do it, even to some small extent, I get the best results whether it be in academics, sports, or whatever. However, in my field (rehabilitation) it is the only way I know of functioning successfully.

As I think back on learning experiences I clearly recognize that the times when someone used a "true-yes" approach has provided me both with the greatest fulfillment and success in my skiing progression. In fact, with the retrospection this thread has evoked I could give you dozens of examples of a "quasi-yes" a "true-yes" and a "negative" approach and the feelings associated with each. In doing this it now becomes quite clear to me how much I prefer a truly positive approach. This is quite an admission for me as I have always liked to think of myself as someone who could learn for myself and equally benefit from any of these approaches.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
One of the books I am reading is "Don't Sweat the small stuff."- Richard Carlson
Comment #49-
Resist the urge to Criticize.
"If you attend a gathering and lisen to all the criticism that is typically levied against others, and then go home and consider how much good all that criticism actually does to make our world a better place, you'll probably come up with the same answer that I do: Zero! It does no good. But that's not all. Being critical not only solves nothing; it contributes to the anger and distrust in our world. After all, none of us likes ot be criticized. Our reaction to criticism is usually to become defensive and/or withdrawn. A person who feels attacked is likely to do one of two things: he will either retreat in fear or shame, or he will attack or lash out in anger. How many times have you criticized someone and had them respond by saying, "Thank you so much for pointing out my flaws. I really appreciate it"?

Here is a more internal take on it. **Would you ever hire anyone to criticize you as much as you criticize yourself?**

Si, interesting: true-yes, quasi-yes, negative.

Best Regards,

[ October 31, 2002, 08:31 AM: Message edited by: Jonathan ]
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Todo:
As a coach and teacher you still need to read what they are doing WRONG. Just don't TELL THEM.
Todo, your right. I think about it this way:
"What do they need to add or subtract from their movements/ or attitudes to have them improve".

Again, semantics.

I have been in the process of breaking down my translations, so that I don't translate from negative to positive. In other words, If I am working on my spanish. I used to look at a cat and think, "Cat is Gato." Then say, "Gato"
Now I look at one and say, "Gato".
Also, there was a period I said, "Gado", I was told, "not Gado, Gato". I prefer to distinguish the two, and focus on the the what I am trying to DO.

In skiing terms, I used to look at skier and think, "what is wrong with this picture." Now I look and ask, "What needs to change in this picture to make it look right"

Breck SS

[ October 31, 2002, 03:45 PM: Message edited by: Jonathan ]
post #7 of 16
a good start would be to look at one's vocabulary and how it rates on the FOP Index. (FOP = Fog or Pomposity) The lower the number, the better a communicator you are, and thus the better a teacher.

syllable amplification is the first target for attack.

0 points for "coach" or "guide"
+1 point for "teacher" or "guru" or "mentor"
+2 points for "instructor"
+5 points for "educator"

0 points for "sales"
+5 points for "marketing"

other categories of FOPpiness to follow
post #8 of 16
Si- Maybe you missed my point, or more likely it was a poor choice of words. I go onto say we must take people from the know to the unknown so they discover there own needs or shortcomings. We should NOT impart our judgement. I also talked about the all fluff positive yes approach. We need to boil things done to observations and explore options not good vs bad, or right vs wrong. In sport, work or life you can build on the positive to enhance the rest but you must first know what you are good at.

[ October 31, 2002, 10:43 AM: Message edited by: Todo ]
post #9 of 16
Sorry Todo,

I didn't mean to imply you though otherwise. I used some of your words out of context which by themselves expressed a concept I though worth discussing. Again no implication that you thought a superficial positive approach was all that was necessary. I really should not have used an out of context quote in my post - bad form on my part.
post #10 of 16
SI- Please no apology, I was just showing how defensive one can get when they are told it was not 100% right. I liked your quasi-yes description.
post #11 of 16
As a younger instructor, when I picked up ski week groups on Sundays in Taos, I would often start with a statement that was something like: During our week together, I will not refer to what you are doing wrong, because it will only help you rehearse the mistake. I would prefer to tell you what to do rather than what to not do. You already do the stuff I want you to not do, so you need no further coaching in it. Actually, I have no idea. I don't even watch you guys. You just give me bad habits.

Man, that was so much fun in my misspent youth, when I could say stuff like that.

Some things I remember learning from Horst Abraham:
--If there is no awareness of a mistake or a problem there is no need for a change, therefore no need for a lesson. So the request for a list of mistakes, as destructive to the process as it may be, is quite normal, and must be acknowledged.
--Continuous attention to mistakes is tantamount to mistake rehearsal, and great skill in the mistake is acquired.
--There is a time to refer to mistakes and a time to do only positive reinforcement. When the performed behavior is quite close to the desired behavior, sometimes a distinction has to be made (not this, but that). When the performed behavior is quite distinct from the desire behavior, there is no need to call attention to it as it will disappear as the desired behavior takes hold.

Something from Timothy Gallwey: The performer has to know what he or she is doing--in a simple objective context (not what should be done, but what IS being done). He talks about a person trying to learn topspin, who felt he was swinging from low to high as required, but did not realize until he saw it (with fascination) in the mirror that, in fact, he was swinging from high to high. What we think we're doing and what we are really doing is not always (or even often ) the same.

Some stuff from my own experience:
--It depends on the student. The short way is show the mistake, show the correction. I respond very well to this as I am pretty much ego-less about my skiing. (I know how good I am. I know how good I'm not. I'm willing to change, and realize that I must. I am grateful for help in any fashion my teacher chooses to offer it.) However, many students have wrapped up their identity in their performance so the critique part only makes it worse.
--Dogs seem to work best on positive reinforcement. They can often get a confused message on aversion and negative techniques. I think people are very similar this way.
--The closer in time the positive reinforcement is to the behavior being reinforced, the more likely that such a behavior will be repeated. (Is this Psych 1?) I inform my students that I will be doing this--that a holler from me while they are skiing is usually a good sign. The holler is usually a giant YES! And true, it is very powerful. (Sometimes, I have to stop and explain what I was reinforcing.)
--A list of mistakes is a waste of time.
--If mistakes keep occurring, I have to take ownership as a teacher, and change the task (less difficulty, smaller increments, etc.) This is MY fault.
--All mistakes are workable solutions to problems. They wouldn't be repeated (as bad habits) if they didn't have some sort of positive result for the performer. I've got to figure out what that performer is trying to accomplish (and respect that) before I have any chance of offering a better and more accessible/acceptable solution.
--Learning is about trial and error. Maturity, as well as innocence, is about enjoying that. Tom Crum notes that the quality of the smile on a newly standing/walking child, as she falls to the floor, is same as the smile as she rises up. I find this very cool.

[ October 31, 2002, 02:33 PM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #12 of 16
When I was doing Masters, one of my coaches (incredibly skilled and experienced, teaches in Switzerland) was experimenting with Positive Reinforcement. I became frustrated, as I wanted fuller feedback...what was right, but also what wasn't. I felt he was holding info back, and I wanted it!

My first teaching job at Mt Snow was with Perfect Turn, and in that system, saying "don't do X" was a big no-no, as they reckoned it led to the student focussing on X.

Now, after 4 seasons, I'm trying to get something working: I try to *always* tell people what's good about their skiing (and why it's good), otherwise there's the danger they might let go of good stuff, because they don't realise it's good. I then build on that: I aim to have the student understand what they're aiming for...something like the old "centreline" concept. Some broad concepts of what is "good" skiing. Then I draw everything in to that. So if there's a problem with someone's skiing, I reference it back to the goal, rather than just focussing on the problem as a stand-alone thing to "fix". So we're working toward something, with a more rounded, fuller understanding of where it all fits in "skiing".

I guess that just as with teaching skiing, we (in the ATS at least) start with getting the stance and balance right, I also want the same thing with their understanding.
Too often, you get someone in a lesson with these weird ideas from previous lessons; exercises they've understood as how they're meant to be skiing (like my lady who was trying to ski on one foot!), or half-understood concepts. I reckon if they have a good basic understanding, they'll learn better.
post #13 of 16
Good stuff, Ant.

It reminds me of one more issue--cultural background.

Often, if you get a Europeans in a class, and you don't tell them all their "faults" right away, they want another instructor, because they assume you don't know anything. If you do that with an American, you may get a slap upside the head. "How much exactly am I paying you to abuse me?"

[ October 31, 2002, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #14 of 16
OH! This is true. In Colorado, I worked on the thing of asking the guests what they wanted to work on/why they'd come to ski school. The Americans responded very well to this, they liked it.
But here in Oz, it seemed to disconcert the Australians, they expected me to wave my wand and transform their skiing, with no actual input from them. So I worked on re-wording it, so it worked for me AND them.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
YEAH, what they said...

Ant, Weems very good stuff. The direction this is going reminds me of a gentlemam I listen to often. Jim Rohn.

He said,"some people prefern to see the glass half full, others prefer to see it half empty. But it is both, can't you handle that!"

After reading Weems' post. I would like to add one thing to my POV. It is important the student knows the difference, and can discern the differences. When I do X, it feels like this... ohhh ahhh. When I do Y, it feels like this... Yucckkk. Let's find the ohhhs and ahhhs. And know how to make the changes on the fly.

or when I do X in this snow condition... ooohhhh aahhhh. When I do X in that snow condition... ohhhh shhhhh.....tttttt

Trial and error. it's a good thing to enjoy.

post #16 of 16
This is similar to "Descriptive" and "Prescriptive" feedback in the ATS model.

From Sue Spencer, PSIA-E, "Descriptive feedback describes the performance as it was executed by the student. Teacher's words are a mirror of the student's performance and are non-judgemental. Prescriptive feedback describes the instructor's recommendations for future performances."

No where does it say to voice negatives!!!!!!

In one clinic, we split between two course conductors. The first session, everything stated was positive, the second, we were told how to correct our "mistake's". Ouch....

The Power of Yes, the Power of Positive is very powerful.
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