Why giving feedback in your personal relationships may not get the result you want and what you can do about it.

Why giving feedback in your personal relationships may not get the result you want and what you can do about it.

When you partner or someone close to you asks, “Can I give you some feedback?” how do you react? If you are human, your stress response will immediately switch on as you instantly brace yourself for what no doubt will be feedback on how you have messed up.  In the same moment, you start worrying about the impact of the feedback, how you will need to justify your actions and perhaps retaliate with some feedback of your own.

This is a sign that your primitive brain, responsible for your survival flight, fight or flee response is switched on and in the driver’s seat. With its seatbelt securely fastened, the primitive brain has detected a threat (i.e. incoming feedback) and initiated a cascade of stress hormones to be dumped into your system.  It also switches off all those parts of the brain (i.e. our thinking brain) that require either too much energy to run in this perceived crisis or may try and prevent it from fighting, fleeing or freezing.  This allows the primitive brain to focus on one thing and one thing only – getting away from the danger in front of it. Yes, that means that our primitive brains cannot differentiate between a perceived threat of receiving feedback to a real threat of being eaten by a lion! The kind of life-threatening event that occurred back when we lived in caves and gathered nuts, fruit and seeds for dinner.

Your brain and feedback.
Logically, getting feedback from someone is not life-threatening. Even if the feedback is hurtful, spiteful or maybe even has a ring of truth to it, you are not going to die. You are still alive and kicking once the words are said. However, most of us have not developed the ability to receive feedback without feeling a level of anxiety. Our first jump is often to the negative and that this feedback is probably a personal attack on who we are or what we have done. Even feedback that may be constructive and resourceful to the relationship. All the primitive brain perceives is a threat, and it responds in the same way it would have 100,000 years ago when we were faced with a real threat, such as a hungry lion.

Understanding our primitive brain’s default position and need to keep us safe and out of danger provides essential context for the person giving the feedback. Let’s assume your goal is to help improve your relationship rather than intentionally be critical and undermine the other person. Even if you’re coming from a loving place that is well-intentioned and genuinely invested in the relationship, it doesn’t mean the other person will be open to receiving your feedback.

The minute the person you’re offering the feedback to gets that you are about to deliver negative or critical feedback, their sympathetic or flight, fight or freeze nervous system switches on like the lights on a pokey machine when you’ve just pulled a winning four cherry combination. This activation serves the purpose of preparing their body for intense physical activity, the kind of action you need when you are running away from someone who is chasing you down a dark alley with a machete. In the process of preparing for the sprint of a lifetime, the person’s ability to thoughtfully receive and consider the feedback you’re offering, no matter how well intended, has gone walkabout.

Their brain literally can’t handle it. And this is the reason why giving negative feedback has been shown time and time again to have very little correlation to improving relationships. Even if your partner looks like they are fine on the outside as you string some well-intended sentences together, their brain is not in the right state to effectively receive, consider and apply your input.  All the required resources to do this have already shut down at the mention of ‘feedback’. It’s like the hamster wheel is turning but the hamsters not home.

More positive feedback isn’t the answer either.
Let’s face it, receiving feedback at the best of times is not a pleasant experience. The reason why we have this visceral negative reaction to feedback is that we’ve learnt growing up or been trained to believe that most if not all feedback is usually critical, and seldomly positive. Years of being reprimanded by parents or teachers have left their mark. Particularly if you grew up in the 1960s where physical punishment at school was commonplace, and teacher’s seldomly gushed with compliments.

Looking at your personal relationship perhaps providing positive feedback when your partner does something great is also not commonplace. So what if you suddenly start showering them with tons of positive feedback? Will this teach them that not all feedback is negative and therefore tame their primitive brain from climbing into the driver’s seat when they hear the word ‘feedback’? Unfortunately, this tactic still has its problems.

By all means, give out all the praise and recognition you can muster in your relationship. Make sure it’s authentic and honest, with no trace of sarcastic undertones, because most of us can spot ‘phoney’ a mile off. This, in itself, will probably improve your relationship. However, research shows that it requires at least five pieces of positive feedback to adequately balance one negative piece of feedback. That’s a heck of a lot of positive feedback in my opinion! It is also a tough habit to create and maintain, not because you lack the desire to do it but because we are focused on so many other things during the day that takes up our energy and time.

Making a sandwich of feedback.
Something I learnt in my corporate days was this concept of sandwich feedback. What it essentially means is that you sandwich crappy feedback between two fresh and yummy ‘slices’ of positive feedback. So, it may go something like this… “I love how hard you work to help put food on the table, however, please put the toilet seat down after you pee, but overall you are a great hubby.” Sorry to tell you but this doesn’t work either because of what psychologists call conditioning.

The reason being is the person you’re giving feedback to gets used to the fact that after every piece of positive feedback, negative feedback is likely to follow.  Like the lingering stench after you have emptied the bins on bin night but not washed out that liquid residue at the bottom. So even when you are complimenting them on the beautiful dinner they just cooked, they have become so conditioned to expect negative feedback to follow, their pokey machine lines up another four cherries and starts glowing like a Christmas tree. Within milliseconds the primitive brain climbs into the driver’s seat, and you know what happens after that. Worse yet, the two separate pieces of great feedback you so carefully planned, have lost their impact and the primitive brain is already changing lanes and heading for the hills.

There’s a better way of giving negative feedback.
To really make an impact in your relationship, you need to evolve the way you give negative  feedback from feedback being merely to correct or punish, to feedback that inspires growth and wanting to change. This is the difference between saying, “Don’t you dare get in my face again!” and “How could you approach me differently next time?” The first way may trigger some memories of you being dragged into the principal’s office to be reprimanded with a cane (only in my schooling days), while the latter takes a more collaborative and constructive approach. We are in this together.

Why does this approach make all the difference? Remember that critical feedback leads to our sympathetic nervous system lighting up and sending us into survival mode. However, when we focus on non-judgemental and ‘future looking’ statements, the primitive brain does not feel under threat.  Instead of the sympathetic nervous system switching on it stays nice and quiet, and the parasympathetic nervous system turns on instead. This is the rest and digest nervous system, which has the opposite impact on how receptive we are to the feedback message. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for calming us down and opens up our minds to receive the message, consider new possibilities and grow from the experience.

Below are several examples of what you could say:

  • Instead of saying, “I wouldn’t have done it that way,” say, “What do you reckon might happen if we tried XYZ?”
  • Instead of saying, “You need to improve how you talk to my mother,” say, “Based on what you know about my mum, how could you approach her differently to help her be more open to what you have to say?”
  • Instead of saying, “Your plan clearly didn’t work,” say, “I’d really like to get this done by the end of the month. How do you think we can get there?”
  • Instead of saying, “I don’t understand why you can’t get the garage sorted it looks like a bomb hit it,” say, “It will be so great when we have the garage done don’t you reckon? What do you need to make sure the garage gets sorted?”

This is the difference between demanding and collaborating. It opens up a conversation about how things can get done versus focusing on past failures. The aim is to get the other person to commit to a different behaviour moving forward that will positively impact your relationship. If they renege on their commitments, it opens up an opportunity to have a tougher conversation. It also indicates to them that you consider yourself to be in this together, and are willing to support them as needed.

There’s still a place for tougher conversations.
When you frame feedback in this way, you set the expectations for future behaviour in your relationship. This doesn’t however mean the other person will meet that expectation. They may not rise to the occasion or follow through on the commitments they have made. When this happens again and again, it is absolutely okay to take the conversation to the next level and create a firmer demand for what you need. How these conversations unfold is a different article for a different day, however, here is the key takeaway: those tougher conversations should not be step one of the process of improving your relationship.

By approaching feedback in this way, your create more space for your partner, family member or friend to have a constructive conversation, effectively hear and synthesise what you have to say and be clear on what your expectations are. If you do this well, you will potentially eliminate the need for more challenging conversations to take place later on.  The more open and honest we are upfront about what we are feeling or what we need helps create healthy relationships where conversations can be had, and we feel heard and appreciated.

Author: Leanne Wall
E: Leanne@drleannewall.com
W: www.drleannewall.com

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Personal income tax cuts

Personal income tax cuts

As widely predicted, the Government has brought forward stage 2 of its planned income tax cuts by two years. Originally intended to apply from 1 July 2022, the tax cuts will come into effect from 1 July 2020 (subject to the passage of the legislation). The Treasurer the Hon Josh Frydenberg anticipates more than 11 million taxpayers will get a tax cut backdated to 1 July this year.

At a cost of $17.8 billion over the forward estimates, bringing forward the tax cuts is a controversial move. The Government argues that the measure will “boost GDP by around $3.5 billion in 2020-21 and $9 billion in 2021-22 and will create an additional 50,000 jobs by the end of 2021-22.” Others in Parliament believe the measure rewards higher income earners and the money could be better spent elsewhere. The Senate will decide whether the Government’s plan comes to fruition.

Stage 3 of the Personal Income Tax Plan that simplifies and flattens the personal income system remains scheduled for 2024-25.

  Tax thresholds
Tax rate Current From 1 July 2020 From 1 July 2024
0% $0 – $18,200 $0 – $18,200 $0 – $18,200
19% $18,201 – $37,000 $18,201 $45,000 $18,201 – $45,000
30%   $45,001 – $200,000
32.5% $37,001 – $90,000 $45,001$120,000
37% $90,001 – $180,000 $120,001 – $180,000
45% >$180,000 >$180,000 >$200,000
LITO Up to $445 Up to $700 Up to $700

Bringing forward the personal income tax plan will:

  • Increase the top threshold of the 19% tax bracket to $45,000 (from $37,000)
  • Increase the top threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket to $120,000 (from $90,000)
  • Increase the low income tax offset from $445 to $700

In addition, the LMITO (low and middle income tax offset), which provides a reduction in tax of up to $1,080 for individuals with a taxable income of up to $126,000, will be retained for 2020-21. This measure was to be removed at the commencement of stage 2 of the reforms from 2022-23.

If you need any assistance please contact your PrimeAccountant on 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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Preventing a tsunami of insolvencies.

Preventing a tsunami of insolvencies.

The Government has stepped in to prevent a wave of insolvencies when the COVID-19 support measures run their course in December 2020.

Temporary insolvency and bankruptcy protections are in place until 31 December 2020 to enable businesses to trade through the pandemic. The measures provide:

  • A temporary increase in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company (from $2,000 to $20,000) and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive (21 days to 6 months);
  • A temporary increase in the threshold for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings (from $5,000 to $20,000), an increase in the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice (21 days to 6 months), and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after making a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition;
  • Temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent; and
  • Flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide targeted relief for companies from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis.

Between March and July 2020, there was a 46% decrease in the number of companies that have gone into external administration compared to the same period in 2019.

Anticipating a wave of insolvencies in early 2021, the Government has moved to streamline insolvency laws to enable small business to either restructure or efficiently wind up. There are two key elements to the reforms:

  • A new formal debt restructuring process for companies that will enable a business to keep trading under the control of its owners while a debt restructuring plan is developed and voted on by creditors.
  • A new, simplified liquidation pathway for small businesses to allow faster and lower-cost liquidation.

The measures will be available to businesses with liabilities of less than $1 million. You can find further information on the proposed insolvency reforms here.

In Australia, the insolvency laws currently do not differentiate between large and small businesses. Everyone goes through a similar process. For small business, the complexity and the cost of adhering to the current insolvency system often leaves little for creditors, makes it difficult to restructure, and places control of the business in the hands of an administrator. These reforms should help simplify the process.

For more information please contact your PrimeAccountant on 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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SCAM WARNING – Do not reply, delete immediately

SCAM WARNING – Do not reply, delete immediately

During a time such as COVID-19 many scammers see an opportunity to target people who may already be afraid or unsure. Here are a few examples that will give you a better understanding of the types of scams and how scammers are targeting people through both email and SMS.

Several emails are circulating with malicious attachments claiming that the recipient is eligible for a ‘working from home payment’, these are scam emails trying to get you to download malicious software. Other emails are asking for your personal information such as drivers licence and Medicare card. Many of these either try and impersonate the Government or a third party. Note you should never give personal information unless you are sure who you are dealing with.

There has been reports of different SMS scams circulating in Australia that are pretending to be from the Government and trying to get you to click malicious links and give out your personal and financial details.

Scammers have also started to target Australians financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, cold calling people claiming to be from organisations that can help you get early access to your superannuation. These scams are following from the Government’s announcement about early access superannuation. The ATO is coordinating the early release of super through myGov, there is no need to involve a third party or pay a fee to access this scheme.

If you receive a message from the ATO asking for your personal information, you can call them on 1800 008 540 to make sure it’s legitimate. If you think it’s fraudulent, report it by email to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au.

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Do home office expense claims affect the main residence exemption?

Do home office expense claims affect the main residence exemption?

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, many taxpayers commenced working from home for the first time during 2020. Deductions for ‘home office expenses’ may be available under s. 8-1 and Div 40 of the ITAA 1997 (general deductions and depreciation respectively).

Types of home office expense deductions

Deductions incurred in working from home are available where:

  • an area of the home is used as a ‘place of business’;
  • a room is used as a ‘study’, ‘home office’ or other ‘work area’ as a matter of convenience; or
  • no particular area of the home is used, but work is performed at home.

Whether an area of a home is a place of business is a question of fact. A place of business is most likely to exist where an area of the home is set aside for carrying on a business by a self-employed person or for use as a taxpayer’s sole base of operations for income producing activities e.g. where no other location is provided to an employee by their employer.

An area that has been set aside in a home will, or is more likely to, have the character of a ‘place of business’ if the area is:

  • clearly identifiable as a place of business;
  • not readily suitable or adaptable for use for private or domestic purposes in association with the home generally;
  • used exclusively or almost exclusively for carrying on a business; or
  • used regularly for visits of clients or customers.

TR 93/30 sets out the Commissioner’s view on when an area of a home is considered to be a place of business.

Home office expenses fall into two broad categories:

  • occupancy expenses — relating to the ownership or use of a home which are not affected by the taxpayer’s income earning activities (e.g. rent, mortgage interest, municipal and water rates, land taxes, house insurance premiums);
  • running expenses — relating to the use of facilities within the home (electricity charges for heating/cooling and lighting, cleaning costs, depreciation, leasing charges, cost of repairs).

The Commissioner is of the view that in most cases the apportionment of expenses attributable to a place of business should be made on a floor area basis and, where the place of business only existed for part of a year, also on a time basis (TR 93/30).

The following table sets out when occupancy costs and running expenses may be deductible:

The CGT impact of working from home summary

  • where the taxpayer has a place of business in their dwelling and claims occupancy expenses — the taxpayer’s entitlement to the main residence exemption (MRE) will be reduced proportionately; and
  • where the taxpayer does not have a place of business in their dwelling and only claims running costs — working from home has no impact on the taxpayer’s entitlement to the MRE.

 

For any further questions related to this matter please get in touch with your accountant from PrimAccounting on 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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