Coaching acts as a catalyst, as an accelerator, which bring a focus to what’s important.  It is not easy to be clear about what is needed and coaching gives you the spaces to work out what you and your business / organisation needs.

You are surrounded by opinions and criticism and working with a coach provides a place where you can explore ideas without criticism, without judgement. There is not pressure to perform.  You can challenge any limiting beliefs which hold you back from being your best and your happiest.

Coaching helps you identify what is needed and put a concrete plan in place, with a clear timescale and milestones, so that you increase your chances of success.

Working with a coach is motivating and inspiring, where you can really feel like you’re moving forward, making the changes you want to gain the insight you need.  Through consideration of coaching models and strategies from positive psychology, resilience studies, creativity etc you can increase your chances of finding success.

Coaching can be face to face or via Skype.

Coaching and fear of failure
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Is fear of failure holding you back?

Are there things you want to do, to change perhaps, but something is holding you back? I’m fascinated by what holds us back, what gets in the way of us achieving what we want and will be looking at this over the next few posts. One theme that comes up over and over during coaching conversations is the fear of failure.

Haven’t got time to read? Prefer listening? I have a podcast on this too.

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strategic thinking

Strategic Thinking

If you’re in a senior role or as a business owner, you may be thinking that the days are never long enough and the to do list is never done. Demands from staff or your team may feel relentless, the interruptions never ending and if anyone mentions planning or strategy, you feel things area bit foggy at the best or a feeling of panic sets in at the worst.

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Coaching for change

Time to change the script?

What script am I talking about?

You know, the script that runs inside your head.  Sometimes it’s quiet and in the background, sometimes it gets really loud and makes it hard to think straight.  We all have it.  Many don’t realise it’s there, don’t hear it, others notice and some manage to challenge it and make changes. Read on to find out what we can do about it.

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coaching for business owners

What it’s like working with a coach

Working with a coach can be transformative – but it’s hard to decide to go ahead if you don’t know what it involves. I thought my own experience of working with a coach might help. About 15 years ago, I was working in and running Papadeli in Bristol with my husband Simon. I had been to the US on an entrepreneurial/ business growth training course at Babson College, sponsored by the UK government and was offered business coaching when I returned. I knew nothing about coaching. I was busy with Papadeli and 2 very small sons. I didn’t really have time to look into coaching and find a coach, let along give up the time to actually meet with one regularly. I dismissed the idea at first, but something kept on telling me I needed to look into it.

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Saying 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. Sometimes it’s a very good idea to say NO.

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Stop worrying about what others think

Worried about what people think?

Do you find yourself worrying about what people think? It can be paralysing and affect much of our decision making. Read on to find out more about this and what you can do.

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making things happen

Making things happen

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Leonardo da Vinci

Sometimes things don’t progress as you’d like. You might not be getting the attention or support you need for your project or business. You may be frustrated at work and dreaming of promotion or another job. You might just be a bit bored with life even. You might feel that you are not making things happen.

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inclusive leadership coaching

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.

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coaching people
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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.

 

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Listening 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. Just being listened to can be so refreshing that things start to get clearer almost immediately.

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. We have all become used to offering suggestions and advice or turning things back on ourselves and jumping in with how we’ve had a similar experience.

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. With a growing number of distractions, it has become so difficult to simply listen to what the other is saying and actually take it in and process.

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.

Think about how it feels when you are speaking to someone and they are clearly distracted, whether by noticing their mind is wandering or they are actually staring at their computer screen or phone. Do you feel respected?

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! We are all guilty of this, and can all do something about it.

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. It will make a difference to your relationships, be they work or at home and that is surely worth a try.

Did you know I run workshops on better listening skills and making sure you really hear what is being said? I have been running masterclasses for leaders and managers in the public sector for the Welsh Government, for example. Get in touch to find out more, or read some testimonials here.