“You must hear the very same thing over and over again” my coachee said, as we finished the session. I have to admit, he caught me off guard and caused me to pause. I think one of the things I have learned in my years of coaching through helping and challenging people in different situations, stages of their lives and parts of the world, is that there are no two people that share the exact same situation, thoughts or ideas. Every person may choose a commonly used word to describe a situation, a goal or particular challenge; the definition will be the same in the dictionaries, but the way we apply it in our lives and act on it, what it actually means to us, that will be different from one individual to the next. When I'm teaching about active listening, questions and perspectives in our coaching class and discussing questions and perspectives for our new coaches, I stress and constantly reinforce the importance of asking for definitions all of the time. We can never assume we know what the other person is thinking or actually means if we do not take the time to ask. If I were to ask you about your definition of transformation would it be the same as what the person sitting next to you might say? Transformation to one person maybe an immense change, a 180 degree shift in another direction, while to another it may mean the smallest notable difference. And what if I were to ask what success looks like for you, would it be the same as your peer, friend or partner? They can mean so many different things and the way we choose to exhibit them and reach them are even more different. Our upbringings, cultures, experiences are what define our views, perspectives and ideas of what we want things to look like when we work towards them or achieve them. Just like you have your definition of what success might look like when you achieve it, I might have another way of seeing success; we must always remain open to listening and asking about other's ideas and views. Actively listening may help us refine our ideas, they may show us other possibilities we had not thought of, or they may reinforce what we know to be our way of seeing it. The next time somebody says they want to improve their time management or they want to be successful, surprise them, change it up a bit, rather than telling them what they need to do and giving advise, pause and ask them what it means? Give them an opportunity to define it for you, and themselves - you will be surprised at what happens...first I can almost guarantee they will be surprised you even asked and are interested in listening, then they will start to think about it and answer. Three things will happen: you will have helped someone put words and descriptions to what they really mean and would like to see; secondly you will learn about other definitions of something you may have thought differently about; finally you will have engaged them in conversation really understanding what they mean and able to respond in a more knowledgable way. Just ask them, what does that mean to you? or what does it look like? The answer I gave my client was “I actually don’t hear the same things over and over again, I hear the same words, but every coachee has a different definition of what they want to achieve or change; I listen and help them develop that definition into an actionable plan so they can achieve what they want. I don’t assume that their version of change or development is the same as mine." The words we use may be similar but when we actually put it into practice it looks completely different from one person to the next. It’s what makes us unique and human. Ask away!
It is very unfortunate but mother nature reminds us of our fragility from time to time. In September 2017, Greater Houston, the 4th largest city in the United Sates with almost 7 million habitants, was devastated with floods. We have been trapped in our homes with many roads closed and we have witnessed through news, text messages, phone calls and social media how less fortunate friends have been evacuated from their flooded homes.
They say that the 3 top fears for a human being are public speaking, death and dancing in public, and it seems they are in that order. As I have worked as a Coach and consultant with many people and as a manager of teams, I can confirm that public speaking fear is indeed very threatening for many people.
Coaching has become a popular formula for leadership development in organizations and it is migrating from a private engagement for top level executives with their coaches to organizations looking to create a full coaching culture in their workplaces. But what does that mean? Having a coaching culture is not telling your managers to coach better or to practice active listening. Coaching is a personal transformation because it allows everyone to develop a better version of themselves with these principles:
Being a good communicator is more than being able to speak clearly and effectively. There are three things you learn in coaching that can take your communication skills to the next level
Listen. Observe. Accept. Move.
There is a fine line between constructive criticism and just flat out disapproval. Being on the receiving end can either be helpful or make you defensive. We are all born with the ability to express ourselves; we all know how to display emotions and we all communicate them, unfortunately we are not all equipped with the same ability of knowing exactly when we should communicate certain thoughts, feelings or suggestions, I call it tact. Some are born with it; and others, well sadly it takes a lifetime.
Excuse the title but I couldn’t help myself, I thought getting you to smile a little is good for the soul. I know the title I chose could be interpreted many ways. In this particular case I want to share an activity that can be helpful in generating ideas, sharing thoughts, working out problems, looking at different perspectives, even releasing negative energy. I learned this technique from my coach trainer during my coach certification program, and sad to say, he had to remind me to put it into practice again. I seem to have forgotten the power and relief it can provide.
Can this be changed? Can I do something about it?
I am a firm believer of goals, plans and actions, I am convinced that if I have not gotten something in life, it is because I have not had the discipline to implement a good plan to get it, I think that is empowering. But I also recognize that sometimes some of our energy gets lost on trying to change something that will not change.