This is an activity we have designed and that is a part of the Resilience at Work training materials. This activity aims to cover the topic of bad thinking habits, which employees often tend to use in the workplace.
Feel free to use this activity below for providing management, staff, and employee training.
Training Activity PowerPoint PPT Slide
10 minutes is the perfect amount of time for this activity but you can make it 15 minutes, depending on the size of the class.
Starting the Training Activity
Ask participants to form groups of 3 or 4 people.
Next, give each group some pen and paper.
Ask each group to discuss the 3 scenarios below (or on the slide) and to write down what type of unhelpful thinking is going on in each scenario (you can find the 12 Unhelpful Thinking Types here). Explain that there could be more than one type of thinking occurring in each scenario.
If you do not have much time available, you can assign just one scenario per group.
Give groups 5 minutes for the activity.
After this time is up, ask the groups to share their answers with the rest of the class.
Allocate about 5 minutes for this.
The 3 Scenarios
1. You are giving a presentation and you forget to say something. You think: “I always make mistakes. I am good for nothing and I will never get another opportunity like this.”
2. You do not get accepted for a job you applied for. You think: “I can tell that the interviewers did not like me by the way they looked at me. I messed up; I am really useless at interviews anyway. I should not apply for that type of job ever again, as it is way above my abilities.”
3. Your boss walks up and says, “I need to talk to you”. You panic and think that they are going to fire you. You get stressed and think that your boss is useless.
If You Are Teaching Online
Use breakout rooms to separate participants into groups.
Once the group activity is over, bring the participants back to the main room for the whole class discussion.]
Scenario No. 1
Over-generalizing / discounting the positives / mental filter (I always make mistakes); labelling (I am good for nothing); all or nothing / magnifying (I will never get another opportunity like this).
In this case, you are not giving yourself a chance. First of all, you make the mistake you made in the presentation and you generalize it so that it applies to everything else you do.
In addition, it may be that you did other good things during the presentation, so you did well overall but you are choosing to ignore that evidence. Instead, you are focusing on that one mistake and becoming obsessed with it.
You are then labeling yourself a good for nothing. Finally, by thinking that you will never get another opportunity like this, you might be blowing things out of proportion and thinking that it is either this opportunity or nothing.
Scenario No. 2
Jumping to conclusions (I can tell that the interviewers did not like me by the way they looked at me); taking things personally (I messed up); labelling (I am really useless); all or nothing (I should not apply for that type of job ever again).
You are assuming you know what the interviewers were thinking and become paranoid about the way they were looking at you. Maybe they were just concentrating and had nothing against you. You blame yourself for not getting the job but maybe it was not your fault. Maybe there simply were better candidates.
As a result, you are labeling yourself as useless and you are thinking in absolute terms by saying that, if you failed this time, there is no point in ever applying for the same type of job ever again. This means that you might miss on other future opportunities when you might have got the job.
Scenario No. 3
Jumping to conclusions (You panic and think that they are going to fire you); labelling (think that your boss is useless).
In this case, you try to predict the future and think that you know what your boss is thinking, without evidence. As a result, you label your boss useless because you do not like what they are doing.
The situation could be different instead. The boss might want to talk to you because they want to praise you. In this case, you would have stressed yourself out without reason and the boss was not useless after all.
If the boss does want to fire you, stressing out in advance does not help when you should be concentrating on what else you could be doing for your career instead.
Labelling the boss useless in this case is counterproductive. It is understandable, but it does not help. It just creates bad energy; you will feel even more stressed than you already are and the boss is just doing their job and such a decision is not easy for them to make either.
Dr Paul Symonds
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