Slice of Sunshine: Teflon/Velcro

I recently had the privilege of leading an in-person “Feedback as a Value and a Skill” workshop for over 100 people. It was great to be out of Zoomworld and back in the wild!

While I sensed people were engaged, I was eager to read the post-event evaluations to get their unfiltered and anonymous opinions, especially since it had been a while since I’d been IRL.

Gotta love feedback about feedback.

When I got the results, I immediately skimmed over all of the accolades, and honed right in on the criticisms.

Some may argue that this is a good thing: knowing where we fall short is one way we grow. As James Clear says, we should welcome feedback if we are genuinely “more worried about having blind spots than hearing about them.”


I caught myself essentially ignoring all of the encouraging comments such as “I think this could’ve been a two day+ training itself!” and ruminating on the one that said “I just didn’t get a lot out of this.”

And then I reminded myself: Teflon/Velcro.

nonstick frying pan and black hook and loop tape
Nonstick pans and hook and loop tape are both great inventions!

It is widely accepted that most people are wired to have a “negativity bias,” focusing on negative information rather than positive information. There are many possible explanations and ways to over come it ( has this great article!) but in order to employ any of the steps, we need to first be aware of this tendency.

The “friendly reminder” phrase I use is “Teflon/Velcro”: our brains are Teflon for compliments and Velcro for criticism. Commendations and accolades slide right off, but dislikes or “call outs” stick.

(NOTE: Teflon and Velcro are brand names—and excellent examples of trademark erosion, sometimes called product eponyms—but it’s much pithier to use the names rather than “nonstick surface/hook and loop tape.”)

I coached myself to take some time, slow down, and remember why I had been so excited to read the results: I am always looking to grow and be the most effective facilitator possible.

That means: reading all of the notes.

Responding rather than reacting (see below).

And letting the affirmations be just as sticky as the critiques.

Negativity bias be gone!

blast from the past

“For while we are not our thoughts, our thoughts are one way through which we interpret the world; they directly impact our moods, attitudes and ultimately our actions.

I find it comforting that often the problem is not the thoughts themselves but in our unquestioning acceptance of all of them as all true.” —Slice of Sunshine, November 11, 2021


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