There are many ways people communicate that go beyond basic verbal communication. To be in tune with others, it is crucial to “notice” these other means of communicating. What are they? People communicate in many ways – with facial gestures, body language, tone of voice, choice of words, eye contact or lack of it, posture, touch and allowing or not allowing personal space. How often do you pay attention to another person’s non-verbal communication?
Over the next week, take some time to sharpen your ability to notice both your and others’ non-verbal communication. Try to discern what is being said beyond surface verbal communications. Noticing helps you increase your understanding of yourself and the people you interact with, resulting in better decisions, more effective communication and better managing.
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There is a lot of change going on in the world. Change can bring polarity, disruption, promise, innovation and chaos. Do you see any of this change reflected in your behavior, your team’s or your organization’s? Take a brief look.
It’s another level of listening. We are all witnessing this change. How is it affecting you? Is there something to do about it in your managing? Adjustments to make? Something to say?
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When coaching a team member, it may seem elementary to say keep the focus on them. In practice, however, you can easily drift away. What does keeping the focus on them in your coaching entail?
• Accepting that the coaching session is all about the person you are coaching, not about you or others in your team
• Actively listening to what they are saying and also hearing what is not being said. For example, by being aware of their body language
• Only bringing in stories or examples that are directly relevant to where you are leading the conversation (it is sometimes hard not to want to relate your own similar experiences, but this is about them and such stories or examples have to further the direction you want to go in as a coach or they can be a distraction for both of you)
• Being very clear for yourself on what the purpose, goals and desired outcome of the coaching relationship are and what benefits you want it to bring to them, your team and your organization
By keeping the focus on the person you are coaching, you will greatly enhance the probability of a successful coaching relationship and great results for both of you.
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At The Coaches Training Institute, I was trained in three levels of listening. The first level is hearing someone. The second, listening to them. The third is more a sensing – listening for what is not being said. The instructors would ask us, at certain points in the training, to “listen” to what was going on in the room. This listening involved going underneath surface communication to the emotions present in the room.
Have you ever been at a meeting where, on the surface, everything is going as planned, but the tension in the room is so thick you could cut it with a knife? If you sense that tension, you are listening to what is not being said. Human beings are complex. There are many aspects involved in our individual existences. When you are in the work world, many of these aspects are ignored. These aspects of ourselves do not go away just because we are working. They are kept, consciously or unconsciously, beneath the surface because we do not want to show them. In certain situations however, they can lie no longer and rise in the form of “the energy in the room”. As a manager, it behooves you to pay attention to what is not being said.
You can practice this, if you like. In a meeting or when you are speaking with a member of your team, put some of your attention on what the energy in the room feels like. Get accustomed to this sense. When you sense something awry or evident but not being said, you can call it out to others. It can be as simple as a question – is everything okay? Or you can go further, saying for example, I sense dissatisfaction here. In listening to what is not being said, you get closer to the truth of a situation and can handle whatever is happening in an effective and comprehensive way.