Posts

Say yes to everything? You should seriously stop.

Why we need to thank people for saying NO as well as YES

At certain times in your career, saying yes can be advantageous.  It can expose you to new experience, open new doors. But saying yes to everything can also be hugely disadvantageous.

Too many people I work with find themselves saying yes to things that mean that they become unfocused, overwhelmed, unproductive and resentful. So often the culture of many work places means that it is a given that you will take on too much and that those who protect their boundaries and say no to certain tasks or undertakings, are seen as negative and unreliable.  More generally, British society expects us to say yes if we want to be liked and saying no risks offending and upsetting. 

Do you find yourself saying yes to taking on extra work or helping others out with their work when you really want to say no?

It’s not easy saying no.  There are a host of reasons why we struggle.

You might not like to let people down.

You might like to please or impress people.

Your line manager or boss may be difficult to say no to.

You may worry about who is going to do the work if you don’t – your colleagues or team are already overworked.

Saying no to clients, even if it’s extra work or unreasonable, can risk upsetting them.

Sometimes it’s easier to say yes and do the work than say no and delegate.

Saying no feels like a rejection to many and none of us like to feel rejected. 

I’m clearly not suggesting you say no to everything.  So how will you know if saying no is appropriate?

  • Consider your role and the responsibilities you have.  Yes, sometimes you need to do things outside of this, as there needs to be some goodwill. However, if you find that you are frequently working outside of your job role and trying to do your job too, you will become overwhelmed.  You will not be able to successful achieve what you need to.  You will probably become pretty distracted and not be able to.
  • Ask yourself if doing this will move you closer to achieving your goals.
  • Ask yourself why you are saying yes. Are you doing it because it will move your work on, contribute to the general aim, add value and because no-one else can, or are you doing it because you feel bad about letting people down, or think it’s quicker for you to do it than someone else and the work will be better?
  • Ask why you can’t say no. Are you concerned about upsetting or disappointing the person asking? Are you worried about their reaction if you say no? Do you think it will be quicker to just say yes and do it than face the potential negative atmosphere if you say no?
  • Are you just saying yes because that’s what you do and it has become a habit and you are seen as the person who never turns anything down?
  • Instead of asking yourself “can I do this?”, ask yourself “should I do this?”
  • Are you saying yes because it’s within your comfort zone and feels easier to do than some of the things you perhaps should be doing in your position?
  • Are you doing this because you always take the role of rescuer? If so, consider the impact of this on you and others.

The benefits to saying no?

Again, I am not suggesting you become someone who says no to everything.  There has to be a balance. Once you challenge yourself to say no to certain requests, you will start noticing the benefits.

  • Many people will respect your ability to say no and will appreciate the fact that you are setting an example, especially in a workplace where saying no is not encouraged.
  • You will find you have more time to do the things that you are meant to be doing eg more strategic planning if you are in a senior position.
  • Your team will thank you as you delegate more, demonstrating trust in their abilities and helping them develop professionally.
  • You will feel more in control, less put upon and clearer about what you really should be doing.
  • You will become more confident in your role and see yourself develop professionally.

Is there another way of saying no?

Not many people enjoy saying or hearing the word no.  So are there other ways of saying it?

If you’re being asked to take on an extra project at work which you know you realistically don’t have time to do or that really someone else should be doing it, try explaining why.  Words like “I’m not able to do that now because I already am feeling stretched and worry I won’t be able to do the work to a sufficiently high standard” or if you do have some capacity but not enough, you could say that you won’t be able to do the whole project, but that you are able to take on some aspects. 

If a client is asking for a meeting this week when you already have one scheduled for the following week (let’s face it, some people love meetings) and you know that time would be better spent working on the project, it is ok to say something like “I really want to focus on getting the work right, would you be happy for me to bring this to our meeting next week?”.  So you’re not hitting anyone with the no word, but you are being clear to them about your boundaries and what you can and can’t do.

If you are a people pleaser, it will be a big change for you and may take a fair amount of effort to start reducing your use of the word yes. It can help to set yourself goals and take it step by step.  For example, decide that when someone asks you to do something, take a few moments to consider whether this is an opportunity to practise saying no.  This may be all you can do for a few times.  Next would be to set yourself a rule around saying no,  There may be someone in particular who often makes you feel overwhelmed.  You could try pushing back with them and see how it feels.  

Slowly you will start feeling pretty liberated!

I challenge you to give it a go and start noticing the difference.

Why Inclusive Leadership?

And how to be an inclusive leader.

Relatively few managers will be unaware of the fact that the workforce has now changed. To lead a successful team or business, they must be aware that there will be a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, beliefs and behaviours amongst their people and that speaking in one way, targeting one type of person is no longer enough to get their message across. It is important to practise inclusive leadership.

There are some leaders and managers who struggle with this concept and wish all would return to the ‘good old days’.  They continue to speak to everyone in the same way.  This means they are speaking to an increasing minority of their team. So what happens to the rest of the team? Most would be pretty clear that this sort of (possibly unconscious) strategy is going to at best disengage and at worst alienate many, creating a fractured team which is unlikely to be productive and effective.

If that isn’t enough reason to be more inclusive in leadership styles, let’s look at some other benefits of being an inclusive leader.

According to Deloitte Insights , organisations with inclusive cultures are :

twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets

three times as likely to be high performing

six times more likely to be innovative and agile

eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes

Hard to argue with that. The first step of making changes is to recognise that change is needed.  You realise that your leadership style is not as including as it could be and that you are missing out on the benefits of such leadership.  The next step is to do something about it.  It helps to work out what inclusive leadership looks like.

According to a very helpful article in the Harvard Business Review “Why Inclusive leaders are good for organisations and how to become one” , https://hbr.org/2019/03/why-inclusive-leaders-are-good-for-organizations-and-how-to-become-one , there are six “traits” that inclusive leaders will have.

These are:

“Visible commitment” – the desire to make a difference, promote diversity, speak out and make the changes necessary to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.

“Humility” – able to be vulnerable, admit mistakes, capable of and open to  learning from others.

“Awareness of bias” – again, the importance of being aware of the need to make changes to how they are behaving, recognising that they are not perfect and may be flawed in the way they approach diversity.

“Curiosity” – an openness to learn about others, being curious about differences in culture and ways of working and being willing to learn from them.

“Cultural intelligence” – being open about and willing to learn about other cultures and ways of living and working.

“Effective collaboration” – able to appreciate the power of collaboration and how bringing together a diverse team brings a host of benefits, from idea generation to productivity and creativity.

These traits can be learned and developed with time and sufficient desire and once learnt, it is important to ensure that leadership behaviour is consistent.  Occasionally demonstrating curiosity is not enough.  It is something that must become second nature.  By enlisting your team’s help, and asking them to call you out when they notice you are less inclusive, you can find a way of changing your behaviour for good.  It may seem scary, as few of us appreciate such feedback, but with so many advantages it is definitely worth the effort.

Coaching can be useful to support leaders and managers to become more aware of their leadership style and to develop ways of becoming more inclusive as it can be challenging for many to embark on such a project.  Aspects of inclusive behaviour can be identified and tried out in between coaching sessions so that you can feedback how it worked and what can be done differently next time.

If you’re interested in leadership or management coaching to develop a more inclusive style, please get in touch to have a chat about what you’re looking for.  Email catrinmac@gmail.com or call 07785 996917.

 

 

Don’t forget you do have choices

Your choices can change everything

Choice is such an important part of life.  Most of us, are lucky enough to be able to make so many choices about how we behave, how we work and live.  We can chose how to react to others, to situations – we are not powerless.  This is often too easy to forget in the day to day busy-ness and stress of life.  It’s too easy to be passive and react to situations with frustration, anger or hopelessness, blaming circumstances or others for what happens.

Most people don’t realise / aren’t actually aware of how much power they do have when it comes to choice.  As with all change, the first step is to notice what’s happening.  Then, choose to do something about it.

Because there are always options.

An example

A colleague is driving you crazy with negative comments and a generally negative attitude.  Sometimes it borders on rudeness.  This is affecting your work, your attitude to your job and how you behave with others when they’re around.  They are taking more and more of your headspace and your usual positive demeanour is diminishing. They are having a big impact on you and this is getting you down.

OK, so what are your choices here?

Accept the status quo and do nothing – that is a choice, after all.

Choose to do something about it. You could speak to them, be honest, they may not realise the impact they’re having on you.  There are many ways to do this – you could, for example ask if all is OK with them.  Often this sort of behaviour is as a result of something they’re going through.  If they have always been like this, then they simply may not be aware of how their behaviour affects others. Choose an appropriate time and place to do this, where you can both speak like adults to each other and leave judgement and anger aside.  Try and see it as an interesting experience from which you can learn.  Some find it useful to imagine it as a chapter in a book or scene in a film and they are the protagonist.  It’s useful to remain curious as to the outcome.

If you can’t face approaching them or have tried and they were not responsive, then you have further choices.  You can choose to react differently. You can choose to ignore, to work on letting the frustration go, to focus on more positive things.

You could also find a way of re-framing the situation.  Instead of seeing it as them winding you up on purpose, you could re-frame it as them not being emotionally aware enough to understand and then adapt their behaviour.  This is not personal (things rarely are) and they are just being themselves in their full (and frustrating) glory.  

You can choose to let go of the effect they have and focus on doing a good job and spending as much time with people that do focus on the positive and make you feel good.  Imagine turning down their influence, like a dial on a radio, and giving yourself the power to live and work as you want, without their negativity. 

Write it down

If you’re faced with a difficult situation which is getting you down, write it down.  Then brainstorm all your options.  From the sensible and do-able to the far-fetched.  Have a laugh doing it! Do this alone or with a friend. Apart from feeling better from laughing, you will feel better when you see all the options open to you.

So remember, you don’t have to just take it, you have choices.  If you can’t change others, you can change your reaction to them.  You can change your perception, re-frame the situation, realise it’s not personal and choose to make the changes that will enable you to feel better and move on.

To find out how coaching can help you consider your choices, email me info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk.

Tools for resilience – the pearl and the oyster

Resilience: The pearl and the oyster analogy

During my time training as a resilience practitioner, I learnt many useful resilience techniques.  Learning that through adopting these, we can develop and become good at resilience was hugely inspiring as previously I don’t think I completely understood how much influence we have over our own reaction to challenge. It was made clear that resilience is not something we are, but something we do and that with practice, we can all find ways of dealing with or managing difficulties.  There is no magic pill to take away the difficulty or challenge and we must recognise our initial reaction / disappointment / shock, whatever it may be. However the next steps can move us towards a place of calm, perspective and acceptance as opposed to fear or a sense of defeat.

As a coach, I absolutely love sharing these techniques and encouraging clients to try them out and report back.  We can all, at different stages of our life or career benefit from resilience strategies and it is something that comes up frequently in coaching. As we are all so different in our reaction to situations, I find it fascinating to hear how things went when a client takes away a technique, what worked and what didn’t.  Some clients like a more philosophical approach, a new way of thinking or seeing things, others like a more concrete, step by step guide that they can practise until it becomes second nature.

Many clients love a story or analogy and often, when I’ve shared the pearl and the oyster analogy with them, come back some time later, saying they still hold this in their minds when they are facing a challenge.

The analogy is as follows:

An oyster is a type of mollusc and when a bit of grit or sand floats into its shell, it begins to coat the intruder with layer upon layer of nacre, which is what makes up the oyster’s inner shell, what we would recognise as mother of pearl. These many layers, create the beautiful, sought after pearl.  So from a situation of discomfort and irritation, comes this iridescent gem.

The thinking follows that similarly, from discomfort or irritation, we can derive something useful.  It may be that we learn from the experience, or that it leads to something better that we may not have imagined could happen at the outset.

This simple analogy can bring perspective, it encourages us to realise that the difficulty is a moment in time and that we will move through it.

If you’re interested in hearing more about coaching or training and resilience, get in touch on 07785 996917 or email info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk.

Business Coaching

Grants and Funding for Business Coaching

Business West, an organisation that supports Businesses in the South West is offering government support for businesses to thrive. They believe that business coaching is an essential part of  ensuring this happens.  They state:

There’s strong evidence that good coaching can accelerate business growth.

A survey carried out by Manchester Inc. found the average return on investment to be almost six times the cost of coaching, and a report from the Personal Management Association showed that productivity increased by 86% when training was combined with coaching, compared to just 22% when training was carried out without a coach.

Lots of ideas but too busy to implement?

A busy CEO told me that she has a hundred ideas for growing the business, but never any time to implement them.  This is where working with a business coach comes in handy. It’s an opportunity to prioritise what you want to achieve, work out the obstacles in your way (time, procrastination, difficulty in delegating, lack of focus etc), find solutions for them and a plan for implementing your ideas.  The coach then holds you accountable to ensure that what you say you’ll do is done.  A sharp focus in maintained and you’ll find that you’re able to change the way you’ve been doing things and find new, more efficient ways, that will help your business grow and be more profitable. Many clients say that they come away feeling clearer and motivated to take action.

Struggling with delegation?

As you grow as a business, you cannot do everything yourself.  When you first set up, it’s possible you had to, but if you want to make more sales and handle more customers successfully, you will need to recruit more staff and delegate many tasks to them.  Ideally, those you delegate to will have the skills to do these tasks better than you as they will be specialists and able to focus solely on that area of the business, e.g. finance.  You can then focus on business development and finding new opportunities for growth.  For many business leaders, delegation is a huge challenge as they fear that others cannot do things as well as them, or that they simply don’t have enough time to explain what is needed – it’s easier just to do it themselves.  Investing time and effort in training and being able to delegate well saves a huge amount of time later on.  I see too many businesses where the founder is the biggest obstacle to growth.  A coach can help you address this and identify ways of recruiting and successfully delegating so that you free yourself up to look at the bigger picture.

Business relationships not going well?

When you’re stressed, it’s hard to keep your cool and communicate successfully. When you’re trying to do everything and there are not enough hours in the day and an important customer or client calls with a problem, you may not be in the best frame of mind to talk to them in a helpful and measured way. Or you may not communicate in a constructive way with your staff if you’re feeling overloaded.  A coach will work with you to identify what is making you stressed and improve your communication so that you become more of an inspiration as opposed to a frustration.

How do you access funding for a business coach?

I know what it’s like from experience of applying for funding and tenders.  You are busy enough, and the thought of taking time to write and fill in forms is enough to put you off.  With Business West, it is pretty simple.  They do most of the work and you come away with financial support to grow your business.You can find more about coaching grants here

Questions about business coaching?

If you have any questions about working with a coach, just give me a ring on 07785 996917 or email me catrin mac@gmail.com

Change your limiting beliefs

Are your limiting beliefs holding you back?

On the simplest level, if you don’t feel generally satisfied, comfortable, strong about you and your place in the world, then it’s highly likely you will have some limiting beliefs holding you back.

Limiting beliefs can affect all aspects of your life. They can mean you don’t dare do what you really want to, that you think you don’t deserve that job, that opportunity, that you can’t possibly earn more, get what you want. You might think you don’t deserve to be heard. They affect the physical as well as the mental space, creating a feeling of general unease, a tightness in the chest, a queasiness or feeling of nervousness when you are facing a new experience or an opportunity. In short, they sabotage so much of what we could do.

Sound familiar?

If you have a belief that you are not good enough, then it’s no wonder that you don’t feel confident enough to “own your space” and stand confidently in every aspect of your life. When I say confident, I’m not meaning confident to jump up on stage and enjoy the spotlight (although wouldn’t that be OK?), I’m meaning more that quiet confidence that means you are comfortable in your own skin. That you don’t question and analyse what you said, how you did it, whether you said the right thing, whether people will be criticising you. It’s possible you often feel ‘not good enough’ and that you don’t have the right to speak out, hold your hand up, volunteer, disagree, move to the front of the queue, make things happen, put your point of view forward…
Does this ring any bells? Is this what your inner voice is saying much of the time?

Where do they come from?

Often they are as a result of the words of others. These words might not have been meant to land in a negative way, you may well have unconsciously interpreted them as such. It could be a parent telling you “you’re not the best at writing” when you were very little. You could carry this throughout your life, avoiding any opportunities to do anything that involves writing. You may even be perfectly good at writing and people around you now tell you so, but those negative words will drown out anything that you hear to the contrary.
They can also come from rules that we make up about the world. If you failed once to excel in the school running race, you may have created a rule that you can’t run. This could have become more generalised and become a rule that says “I can’t do anything that involves physical exercise”. If you believe this rule, it’s very likely that you will stay well away from anything that might help you stay fit. You may have heard someone mention your accent and you could have interpreted it as a criticism. It may follow that you feel self conscious about your accent and speaking up at meetings.

You can change it.

This inner voice is made up of limiting beliefs that you have built up over the years. Just as you have built up these negative beliefs that hold you back, you can build up positive beliefs that will allow you to move forward into a place of calm confidence. It just requires you to first notice the belief, challenge it and then switch it into a positive.

e.g
Notice it: “ My opinions are not worth hearing”.
Challenge: Ask yourself “says who?”
Switch: Ask yourself “what would be a more useful belief?”. It could be something like “My opinions are as valid as other people’s”. Adopt this as your new positive belief.

Remember NCS – Notices, challenge, switch

I feel very strongly about limiting beliefs as so many of us have them and live our whole lives with them holding us back without realising it. They can affect so many aspects of our lives in a negative way, making us feel less than successful, rarely living up to our potential. And this really doesn’t need to be the case.

Which limiting belief will you challenge first?

Actively seek out the good stuff

Hunt the good stuff

As a coach I work with many hard working, often ambitious people who want to be clear about what they want and how they’re going to get there. In a competitive world, entrepreneurs, leaders, heads of business know they must keep on going, persevere, never give up if they are to succeed.  When working over long periods in this way, it’s easy to get ‘stuck’ in a pattern of keeping their head down, focusing on the targets and being extra aware of obstacles or challenges that might get in the way of success.

This can be exhausting and create a mindset where they only notice the negatives in every situation.  What might go wrong? What if it doesn’t work? It could be better.  This treadmill of negatives, in turn has a negative effect on our state of mind.  Everything feels stressful, everything looks bleak.  Everything they do, no matter how good, will never be good enough.  It’s as if there’s an invisible whip that just keeps on pushing them forward, punishing them if they get anything wrong.  Often, this way of thinking also affects those around them, as they pick up on negatives and mistakes, rarely noticing things that have been done well or that should be celebrated. This mentality often spreads into their private life.

This is not a great way to live and work.

Hunt the good stuff

As a coach, I challenge clients on this negative treadmill to step off a moment and recalibrate.  It’s natural for humans to notice and remember negatives – we seem to be pre-programmed to do so (read about negativity bias here).

As soon as we become aware of our tendency, we can start to do something about it.  Making an effort to “Hunt the good stuff” (Martin Seligman writes about this in his book ‘Flourish’), can lift the mood and lighten the weight.  With practise (change is rarely easy), we can train our minds to actively search for positive aspects in situations.  This doesn’t mean we stop being dedicated to our project or business, it doesn’t mean we ‘take our eye off the ball’, or that we become naive or unaware of challenges, but it does mean we will find more pleasure in our work and life, as well as be easier to live and work with.

Simply put:

To begin with, it’s important to notice the tendency for seeing the bad stuff. Just notice these thoughts and let them go.

Every morning when you wake up or as you brush your teeth, and as you go to sleep in the evening, make an effort to think of 2 or 3 good things that will happen / have happened.  No matter how small, they are important.

Getting into this routine, will hopefully mean you start thinking of good stuff during the day. It might help to encourage others to do this, so that the “hunting the good stuff” idea spreads.

Start small and as you get the hang of it, let the good stuff take over. Clients find it transforms their thinking and makes everything a little more enjoyable.

Learning from your story

What can you learn from your story?

Considering our own story is invaluable when considering our own life, work and development.  In a presentation on mentoring and narrative, Professor Bob Garvey, introduced the quote below from film maker Krzysztof Kieslowski and it got me thinking;

Coaching your story

 

It got me thinking about why I was there, in that room, listening to Bob Garvey, Professor of Coaching and Mentoring at Sheffield Hallam University alongside other experienced coaches and mentors. It encouraged me to consider my commitment to furthering my learning and professional development and my interest in coaching in general. It opened up a host of mini stories that brought me to sit in that chair, each one equally valid in how it has shaped who I am today. Suddenly, I felt like I could see clearly the path that had brought me here, as if a spotlight had been positioned onto my past.  Focus seemed to centre on the aspects of my past that I had enjoyed, found interesting, motivating and above all influential in putting me on this road. I realised the benefit of these and how I would like to do more. We can all feel frustrated or self critical when we consider our past decisions, but by seeing it as a story, that you might read in a book or watch in a film, a new perspective often opens up as we realise that each is a sum of what we are today.

Passive or proactive?

 

All that we do leads us to where we are

This quote helped me stop for a moment and reflect.  It helped me consider what drives me and realise that all that we do leads us to where we are. We can be passive in this and just find ourselves somewhere, or we can be more proactive and actively do things that will take us to our desired outcome. Being passive is always an option and can work well for many.  Being conscious and clear about outcomes brings more purpose and increases the chances or us finding ourselves doing something we enjoy and find stimulating.  This is relevant for our personal lives as well as at work and business.

What next? You can influence this.

Being aware of what has brought you this far can inform you of what you’d like to happen next.  It might be more of the same, some changes or a complete transformation.  It’s so important to realise that you really can shape your next steps, but being clear about what you want and putting a plan together of how you’ll get there. It can be scary to think that you can shape your future – it’s a big responsibility and you’ll be able to blame no-one but yourself. It’s worth asking yourself what the alternative is and whether or not you’re happy with that.

What if

 

What would be the right chair, who would be the right people?

What if considering this quote, you realise you’re in the wrong chair, with the wrong people? It’s not an easy realisation. It could help to ask yourself what makes it wrong? What aspects can you change? What can you do? Is it just a bad day? Or do you want to make some changes? Ask yourself what would be the right chair and who would the right people be? What first steps might you take?

This quote is a great catalyst for some thinking and questioning.  Take a moment to consider what thoughts come up for you. It’s essential that we all realise that we do have some say in shaping our own futures.

Ask yourself if the story that has brought you here, can help you shape what happens next.

To discuss coaching, please get in touch: info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk or phone 07785 996917.

,

What’s really going on for them?

Finding out what’s behind the words

We make so many assumptions when it comes to communicating with others.  We have to, as we generally don’t have time to read between the lines.  This leads to snap decisions and judgements.  Much of the time, this is OK and no harm is done.  However, if we make a snap decision that someone doesn’t like us, or is moody or ungrateful , or whatever… it is very unlikely that we will change our minds on this.

On good days. we might give people the benefit of the doubt and won’t come to such a decision, but at stressful times (like Christmas!), we are so much more likely to jump to conclusions and misinterpret the words and behaviour of others, making assumptions quickly that may be detrimental to relationships (and our enjoyment).

Stressful situations don’t help….

Stress doesn’t bring out the best in us and if time is against us, we are loathe to find out what’s really going on for others. Too often, misunderstandings happen and nobody stops to find out the reasons behind a person’s behaviour. If someone is behaving badly, this is all that we see.  This is the story that we have about them. It happens far too often in the workplace. Someone might be behaving badly – their attitude, time keeping, performance etc and this might get as far as a disciplinary or actually being asked to leave. In some cases, fortunately, someone sits down and asks them what’s going on, only to find out that they’re experiencing some difficult circumstances at home that are causing them to behave like this.  Once support is offered and put in place, the behaviour changes.

Taking people at face value means that we only get to know a tiny part of them.  Have a look at the cartoon below and consider what’s going on.

coaching people

Two people are speaking to each other.  If they are moderately good listeners, they will hear what the other is saying.  Each will interpret the words in their own way (usually according to their own personal way of interpreting the world – see this article on “we see the world as we are not as it is”).  What they don’t hear is what is behind the other person’s words (illustrated in the large orange bubbles).  All their experience, thought processes, their own interpretation of the world and events, what happened to them that morning, what’s going on in their family, what drives them, what they value etc). If we can access this information, or just a small part of it, we would have a better understanding of what the other person is saying and would be in a better position to make fewer assumptions.

So what can we do?

  • Firstly, notice that you’re making assumptions about the other person. What effect is this having on your relationship?
  • Take a step back and consider what might be going on for them – here it’s difficult not to make assumptions, but imagine you are an innocent bystander, watching the conversation. Picture the cartoon and remember we only see a fraction of what is really going on.
  • Ask them some open questions to find out what’s behind the words.  Let go of your judgement (this can be easier said than done!).

Hopefully you will gain some insight into what is behind their words. At the very least, this new perspective will help you understand them a bit better and you might feel a better connection as you learn more about them and they see that you are genuinely interested.

This is a strategy that works well for many of the people I coach. It is definitely worth giving a go and I’d love to hear what you think.

 

,

Listen better to improve relationships

As an executive and business coach, I work with a broad range of clients, be they part of a large organisation or agile, ambitious start up, and everything in between. I constantly reflect on what value I might add. I realise now that one of the most valued services I offer is that of genuine listening and hearing what clients say. It seems simple and perhaps even obvious, but the more people I come across, the more I realise how few people there are that do genuinely listen and hear what you say. This lack of attentiveness creates a host of misunderstandings, lack of engagement and breakdown in relationships even, that could, I believe be avoided if we all learned to better listen and hear what is being said.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.  Stephen R Covey

When you genuinely listen to what someone has to say as opposed to waiting for a gap in conversation to get your point or response across, you will find that not only do you gain an insight into how they think, what drives them and what they want, but you will find that you can achieve a deeper level of communication and trust.

It is wiser to find out than to suppose.   Mark Twain

We make so many assumptions that can be damaging to business and relationships. So often, if we changed the way we communicate and listened to people in order to genuinely learn from them, we would make fewer assumptions and actually find out what is really going on. Imagine how much time this would save and how misunderstandings and conflict could be minimised.

Genuine listening builds better relationships

By not listening properly, we miss out on a great deal. We miss out on information to start with. We miss out on all sorts such as how people are feeling, what their mood is like, what their attitude is towards us, the business, others. These factors all enhance our knowledge of others and how we can better work and interact with them. By really listening, we can promote engagement and others feel that their words are worth something.

Make people feel valued

If we allow our own thoughts to elevate as others speak, we shouldn’t fool ourselves that they won’t pick up on this. Humans are very sensitive to how others behave and we all know what it’s like to speak to someone who is physically present but not hearing anything. Think of a time when this has happened to you. How did that make you feel? Perhaps you felt the other person showed a lack of respect, you may not have felt valued. It is highly likely that you went away thinking “well that was a waste of time, I’ll avoid approaching them again”. This sort of behaviour builds negativity and resentment which could potentially have been avoided.

What is your default when it comes to listening?

All behaviour change starts with actually realising where you are now. Then you can work out where you want to get to and how. What do you tend to do when in conversation?

Are you a broadcaster?You have an agenda, something to say and you want to get it out there and get on with it. How does the other person feel? Try considering things from their perspective and the benefits of a two way conversation.

Are you a mind racer?

Your focus is internal rather on the person speaking. How do they feel? What are you missing out on by not being present? How can you tame your thoughts and bring your attention to the speaker?

Are you a jumper to conclusions?

Do you listen to the first few sentences and then make up your mind regardless of what comes next? What sort of pattern will this create for you and your business? How can you let go of your assumptions?

Are you easily distracted?Whatever else is going on in the room or outside the window, that’s where your focus is. You might have your phone or laptop at hand and be glancing over at them. You leave conversations thinking you’ve heard it all, but will have missed so much. Ask yourself what you can do about this? Putting the device away would be a good start!

What can you do now?

Most of us can relate to some if not all of the above. Ask yourself what small change can you make to improve your listening. There will be something, no matter how small. None of us are perfect listeners all of the time. There are so many benefits to getting good at listening, why not start today and notice the positive changes that take place.

Did you know I run workshops on better listening? Get in touch to find out more.