Active Listening and Good Communication

Active Listening and Good Communication

Building relationships at work and at home depends upon good communication. This includes the ability to really “hear” what the other person Active Listening and good communicationis trying to say. if you practice the skill of active listening, you will be able to communicate better.

In coaching we spend a lot of time thinking about active listening – for us it is a core skill. Active listening is hearing with engagement. In active listening you work to not just to hear the words, but to understand exactly what the other person is trying to say.

Active listening helps the other person to feel appreciated and respected. It helps them to have trust.

Active listening is a skill that requires practice but here are some tips to help you on your way.

  1. Position – be somewhere where you can see and be seen by your hearer for important messages. Talking one to one, or in small groups, sit up straight or lean forward slightly to show your attentiveness through body language.
  2. Maintain comfortable eye contact. Again one to one and in a small group, you need to judge the night degree of eye contact. Give good warm “face”,  and don’t stare them down or threaten with your glare. Remember, acceptable eye contact changes with culture. In some cultures it is very rude indeed to look straight into someone’s eyes.
  3. Minimize external distractions. Reduce external noise. Turn off the TV in the corner of the room. Ask people to stop what else they are doing and switch off your mobile phone. If someone comes to talk to you in your office at work, it is better to ask them to wait outside than to go on writing whilst they are in the room.  Writing on looks arrogant and it sends a clear message about what you think of their status relative to yours.
  4. Respond appropriately – when someone is talking to you show that you understand. You can murmur (“uh-huh” and “um-hmm”) and nod. Raise your eyebrows. Say words such as “Really” and “Interesting,” as well as more direct prompts: “What did you do then?” and “What did she say?” All these things show that you are interested and encourage the other person to keep talking.
  5. Focus solely on what the speaker is saying. If you concentrate properly on what someone is saying to you, your response will usually come naturally. If there is a silence – it usually means something. Silences often follow important statements, they give us breathing and thinking time. Don’t spend thinking time on what to say, spend it on reflection about what has been said. Then you will find the conversation usually flows.
  6. Be aware of what is happening inside you. You may find your own thoughts intruding as you try to listen. This can happen particularly if what is being said touches your own emotions. But let your thoughts go and keep refocusing back on the speaker, Time afterwards to reflect on what this meant for you.
  7. Suspend judgement. Wait until the speaker has finished before forming your opinion, even if they are complaining. In fact, it is even more important,if you think you are likely to disagree with what they are saying . Take the time to take in all that they have said before you give an opinion.
  8. Don’t jump to tell them what you did last time. People don’t want to be thought of as just another number, case or employee. Treat each person you speak to as an individual meriting individual consideration. There will be a time to use past examples but judge their use with care – packaged solutions do not blend well with feelings.
  9. Be engaged Ask questions for clarification. Once again, wait until the speaker has finished. Don’t interrupt their train of thought. After you ask questions, paraphrase their point to make sure you didn’t misunderstand. You could start with: “So you’re saying…” This shows that you are really listening.

You gotta practice

Practice your active listening skill, particularly handling silence. Learn to use it to better understand what is being said to you. As your listening skills develop, so will your speaking skills and your ability to hold a conversation. You will be surprised how active listening draws people to you. People warm to those who take the trouble to really listen to them.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link

         

The Value of Friendships at Work

The Value of Friendships at Work

Personal and Career Development: The Value of Friendships at Work

Advice from Wendy Smith; Career Coach and author of The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book – order on Amazon

The Value of Friendships at Work – yesterday I had lunch with friends that I made at work more than 30 years ago. Meeting them led me to meditate on how important friendship can be in supporting you through the difficult times in your career.

I met those particular friends when they were fresh from university: now, they are on the verge of retirement.

We were part of a cohort of young Civil Servants setting out on an intense, month-long,  course in Economics. I don’t know how much of it we retained for use in our later careers but the friendship has certainly stood the test of the years.

I don’t know what bound us together so strongly as a group beyond our variety – we a had nice mix of art, science and scepticism, in youth. The scepticism has mellowed with the years like our competitiveness.

I know that their friendship, and that of another former colleague, has been important to me in a life which has had more discontinuities than most.

Certainly, friendship has been one of the things that has sustained me through difficult patches at work.

The ability to talk in confidence to someone you trust, who understands what you do, can help you get through hard times in one piece. A true friend’s on-going respect for you, and what you stand for, can help keep your self-esteem and confidence in tact through a storm.

 

Remember working with a career coach can really help job search. Get in touch at the Facing a mid-career dilemmaemail address below – I offer a free half hour trial session by phone or Skype. Find my books on my Amazon page at this link; http://ow.ly/BRSAL

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. 

Need help finding work, with problems at work, at home or with relationships? Book your free 30 minute, no obligation, trial coaching session with Wendy Smith now at this Link 

Career Development: Learning to Influence – The Importance of Rapport

Career Development: Learning to Influence – The Importance of Rapport

In order to communicate well with others and to gain their cooperation, it is important to establish rapport. Rapport means being synchronised and in harmony with another person. This usually means making sure that you match their body language, voice tone and the language they use. You will find this may happen naturally with people whose values and beliefs you share! It happens too with people you like who are deeply engaged in similar activities to you at the same time and particularly if they are at the same level of skill. With others you have to do more work

Why is rapport important?

Rapport is important and it is a forerunner and provides a basis of the development of trust and understanding. This means it leads to connection and influence. It helps you see the other person’s point of view and them to understand yours. Successful interactions with others and the building of relationships that last, depend largely on our ability to establish and maintain some level of rapport. With rapport, resistance and antagonism will usually disappear and cooperation will be improved

How can you develop rapport with others?

First, it helps if you can begin to understand how they see the world, without being judgmental. Simply accept that for them this is how the world is. Then begin to match how they move and how they speak – you need to do this with care – don’t suddenly start to speak with a different accent. If you do it very obviously they are likely to think you are mocking them! All of this needs to be done in a way that is comfortable for you.

This kind of matching reduces both the difference and the distance between us and others at a subconscious level. For it to work you do not have to change your beliefs or values to accommodate someone else – only accept them as they are and that their views are sincerely held – respect them without judgment while being in rapport.

Wendy is the The Career Coach – helping you to find fresh perspectives on your Job Search and Career. She helps you work towards your goals and aspirations, in a way that fits in with both work and home life. Email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com,  find her on Skype at wendymason14, or call +44 (0) 2081239146 (02081239146 for UK callers) or +1 262 317 9016 if you are in the US.

Book a free trial/consultation to try phone coaching from the comfort of your own home and without risk. Don’t forget to ask about the Summer Special Offer 

Related articles

 

Getting On With People At Work!

Getting On With People At Work!

Managing Your Career – Getting On With People At Work!

Getting on with people! One the hardest lessons we have to learn in life, is that we will meet people who don’t like us.

Sometimes this will be for reasons that we understand.  But sometimes it won’t! And, of course, sometimes we may find ourselves not liking someone and it may be very hard to know why.

How we respond depends very much on the circumstances.

If you find yourself, for example, sitting next to someone on a plane for a journey that lasts an hour, it make very little difference whether you like each other or not. But when the person you are having difficulties with is your new boss, a colleague or an employee, that does matters. It matters a lot!

First, if you are dealing with your own feelings of dislike, try to work out why you feel like that.  What is it about this person that you find difficult?  Take some time to think about the issue.  Is it how they look? Is it something they have said or done? Sometimes, we dislike those who remind us of people or experiences in our own past. Take time to reflect and then be completely honest with yourself.

If you have a sense of mistrust, then try to work out why? Is there any evidence to support how you feel?

Be very honest about your own prejudices. If the way you feel is about their race, their age or their sexual persuasion, then you have some really hard work to do. This problem is yours to resolve, not theirs.

When you have feelings of dislike, work on valuing the individual and the contribution they make.

If the issue is to do with bad memories, seek the help of a coach or counsellor.

If it is about prejudice then again seek out support from a trainer or coach if you are serious about your career. Be honest and brave enough to seek help.

If someone dislikes you, then again, see if you can work out why and try to put things right.  If the person is, for example, a new boss, then you may have to take your confidence in both hands and ask for an explanation.  Try to make sure the boss really does understand how you are contributing to the work and be prepared to share your knowledge and, on occasion, your contacts.  In other words turn yourself into an asset.

Above all keep the lines of communication open.  Never fight with the boss! At the end of the day, it really is better to move on, if you can’t find the middle ground.

If the problem is with a colleague or an employee again work hard to find out why and then find the middle ground, while being scrupulously fair. At the end of the day, with a professional approach you should be able to find a way to work together even though you may not be best buddies.

Getting on with people at work is important. You don’t owe those you work with undying affection, nor do they owe that to you.  But you do owe them a fair chance to do their work well and a fair hearing if they have a problem.  You should be able to expect the same in return.

Wendy Mason is the The Career Coach – helping you to find fresh perspectives on your Job Search and Career. She helps you work towards your goals and aspirations, in a way that fits in with both work and home life. Email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com,  find her on Skype at wendymason14, or call +44 (0) 2081239146 (02081239146 for UK callers) or +1 262 317 9016 if you are in the US.

A free trial/consultation allows you to try phone coaching from the comfort of your own home and without risk. Don’t forget to ask about the Summer Special Offer 

 

Managing Your Career – Getting On With People At Work!

Managing Your Career – Getting On With People At Work!

One the hardest lessons we have to learn in life, is that we will meet people who don’t like us.

Sometimes this will be for reasons that we understand.  But sometimes it won’t! And, of course, sometimes we may find ourselves not liking someone and it may be very hard to know why.

How we respond depends very much on the circumstances.

If you find yourself, for example, sitting next to someone on a plane for a journey that lasts an hour, it make very little difference whether you like each other or not. But when the person you are having difficulties with is your new boss, a colleague or an employee, that does matters. It matters a lot!

First, if you are dealing with your own feelings of dislike, try to work out why you feel like that.  What is it about this person that you find difficult?  Take some time to think about the issue.  Is it how they look? Is it something they have said or done? Sometimes, we dislike those who remind us of people or experiences in our own past. Take time to reflect and then be completely honest with yourself.

If you have a sense of mistrust, then try to work out why? Is there any evidence to support how you feel?

Be very honest about your own prejudices. If the way you feel is about their race, their age or their sexual persuasion, then you have some really hard work to do. This problem is yours to resolve, not theirs.

When you have feelings of dislike, work on valuing the individual and the contribution they make.

If the issue is to do with bad memories, seek the help of a coach or counsellor.

If it is about prejudice then again seek out support from a trainer or coach if you are serious about your career. Be honest and brave enough to seek help.

If someone dislikes you, then again, see if you can work out why and try to put things right.  If the person is, for example, a new boss, then you may have to take your confidence in both hands and ask for an explanation.  Try to make sure the boss really does understand how you are contributing to the work and be prepared to share your knowledge and, on occasion, your contacts.  In other words turn yourself into an asset.

Above all keep the lines of communication open.  Never fight with the boss! At the end of the day, it really is better to move on, if you can’t find the middle ground.

If the problem is with a colleague or an employee again work hard to find out why and then find the middle ground, while being scrupulously fair. At the end of the day, with a professional approach you should be able to find a way to work together even though you may not be best buddies.

You don’t owe those you work with undying affection, nor do they owe that to you.  But you do owe them a fair chance to do their work well and a fair hearing if they have a problem.  You should be able to expect the same in return.

Wendy Mason is the The Career Coach – helping you to find fresh perspectives on your Job Search and Career. She helps you work towards your goals and aspirations, in a way that fits in with both work and home life. Email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com,  find her on Skype at wendymason14, or call +44 (0) 2081239146 (02081239146 for UK callers) or +1 262 317 9016 if you are in the US.

A free trial/consultation allows you to try phone coaching from the comfort of your own home and without risk. Don’t forget to ask about the Summer Special Offer 

 

The Wolf Project: A Novel From Wendy Smith

The Wolf Project

The Wolf Project A Novel From Wendy Smith

The Wolf ProjectThe Wolf Project – a heart warming story!

“Liz Morris had been a successful TV writer. Then her marriage broke up and she lost both her money and her confidence. Now, she has been asked by the formidable Annabel Meadows to help her husband, retiring American General, George “Jet” Meadows, write his autobiography. Liz doesn’t want the work but she does need the money. What she doesn’t know is that this project and meeting General Meadows will change her life forever.”

The Wolf Project shows age is no barrier to falling in love but its complications will pull at your heart strings. See how just one decision can change your life forever. For Liz, the journey leads her to London, Washington and Paris but what is it taking her towards?

Wendy Smith (Wendy Mason until her recent marriage) is career, life and business coach, as well being a writer and poet. She grew up in Walsall in the West Midlands in the UK. But she now lives in South East London.Wendy trained as a nurse at the Royal Free Hospital, London. Before working as a writer and coach, she had a management career in the UK Civil Service and worked as an independent consultant with organisations like the BBC.

 

The Wolf Project: A New Novel From Wendy Mason

The Wolf Project

A new Novel From Wendy Mason

The Wolf Project Front Cover

“Liz Morris had been a successful TV writer. Then her marriage broke up and she lost both her money and her confidence. Now, she has been asked by the formidable Annabel Meadows to help her husband, retiring American General, George “Jet” Meadows, write his autobiography. Liz doesn’t want the work but she does need the money. What she doesn’t know is that this project and meeting General Meadows will change her life forever.”

Coming shortly – regular updates will be on The Wolf Project page

Wendy Mason is a Career and Life Coach and Writer and she is passionate about helping people find happiness at work and at home! She lives in London, England with partner, Owen. As a coach, Wendy helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life. This is her first novel.

 

Being a good leader; communication and active listening

Every piece of advice you read about how to be a good leader talks about the need for good communication – an able leader is an able communicator! Yes, quite right. But communication is a two-way process. For any leader the ability to listen is right up there with the ability to deliver the message. And listening is more the just hearing a sound and knowing what the words usually mean.

In coaching we spend a lot of time thinking about active listening – for us it is a core skill. Active listening is hearing with engagement. In active listening you work to not just to hear the words, but to understand exactly what the other person is trying to say.

For coaches active listening is important not only because we need to understand but also because when we listen fully, the client feels appreciated and respected – it helps them to have trust.

Surely as a leader you want, just as much as coach, to be trusted and in due course to inspire your organization.

Active listening is a skill and it requires practice but here are some tips to help you on your way.

  1. Position Be somewhere where you can see and be seen by your hearer for important messages. Talking one to one or in small groups, sit up straight or lean forward slightly to show your attentiveness through body language.
  2. Maintain comfortable eye contact. Again one to one and in small group you need to judge the night degree of eye contact. Give good warm “face”,  and don’t stare them down or threaten with your glare. Remember, acceptable eye contact changes with culture. In some cultures it is very rude indeed to look straight into someone’s eyes.
  3. Minimize external distractions. Reduce external noise. Turn off the TV in the corner of the room. Ask people to stop what else they are doing and switch off your mobile phone. If someone comes to talk to you in your office, it is better to ask them to wait outside than to go on writing whilst they are in the room.  Writing on looks arrogant and it sends a clear message about what you think of their status relative to yours.
  4. Respond appropriately When someone is talking to you show that you understand. You can murmur (“uh-huh” and “um-hmm”) and nod. Raise your eyebrows. Say words such as “Really” and “Interesting,” as well as more direct prompts: “What did you do then?” and “What did she say?”. All these things show that you are interested and encourage the other person to keep talking.
  5. Focus solely on what the speaker is saying. If you concentrate properly on what someone is saying to you, your response will usually come naturally. If there is a silence – it usually means something. Silences often follow important statements, they give us breathing and thinking time. Don’t spend thinking time on what to say, spend it on reflection about what has been said, then you will find the conversation usually flows.
  6. Be aware of what is happening inside you. You may find your own thoughts intruding as you try to listen. This can happen particularly if what is being said touches your own emotions. But let your thoughts go for not and keep refocusing back on the speaker, Time afterwards to reflect on what this meant for you.
  7. Suspend judgement Wait until the speaker has finished before forming your opinion, even if they are complaining. In fact, it is even more important,if you think you are likely to disagree with what they are saying . Take the time to take in all that they have said before you give an opinion.
  8. Don’t jump to tell them what you did last time. People don’t want to be thought of as just another number, case or employee. Treat each person you speak to as an individual meriting individual consideration. There will be a time to use past examples but judge their use with care – packaged solutions do not blend well with feelings.
  9. Be engaged Ask questions for clarification, once again, wait until the speaker has finished. Don’t interrupt their train of thought. After you ask questions, paraphrase their point to make sure you didn’t misunderstand. You could start with: So you’re saying…” This shows that you are really listening.
  10. Practice your active listening skills, particularly handling silence. Learn to use it to better understand what is being said to you. As your listening skills develop, so will your speaking skills and your ability to hold a conversation. You will be surprised how active listening draws people to you. People warm to those who take the trouble to really listen to them.

 

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com

Registered with Life Coach Directory

Other  articles by Wendy

Emotional Intelligence and Your Job Search

Using emotional intelligence really can help you succeed in your job search.

But what is emotional intelligence, and why is it that success in life sometimes seems unrelated to intelligence and how hard you are prepared to work?

It has been said that your IQ can land you a job but your lack of EQ (Emotional Intelligence) can get you fired. However, demonstrating emotional and social intelligence is becoming more and more important in your job search.

Many more recruiters and employers now appreciate that emotional intelligence and social intelligence are great determinants of the success you are likely to achieve at work.  A study from Virginia Commonwealth University  has shown that “high emotional intelligence does have a relationship to strong job performance  — in short, emotionally intelligent people make better workers.”  As a result, companies like Microsoft and Deutsche Bank now use EQ tests in their recruitment processes.

Derren Thompson, Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo, one of the largest services companies in the world reminds readers in their  blog that the “businesses that will succeed in the 21st century will be the ones that allow employees to bring the whole of their intelligence into the work force – their emotional and intellectual self. Not only does this impact morale, but productivity increases, too.”

Recognizing the significance of this, means you can use emotional intelligence to help you succeed in your job search.

But what is emotional intelligence?

In 1996 Daniel Goleman wrote his groundbreaking book “Emotional Intelligence“. His exhaustive research had confirmed that success in life is based more on our ability to manage our emotions than on our intellectual capability or our physical strength.

According to Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist, “Your EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,”

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and manage your own emotions, the emotions of others and also group emotions. It can also be a way of engaging with others that draws them to you.

EQ requires four capabilities;

  1. Self-awareness,
  2. Self-management,
  3. Social awareness
  4. Relationship management.

But EQ can do more for you in your job search than just impress a potential employer, it can help you decide what kind of role to go for.

One way to begin is to ask yourself two questions:

  • First, when do you feel excited or curious? This will help you be clear about your interests and passions.
  • Second,  work out what makes you upset, depressed and angry, and why? This helps you identify your core values and that often makes the difference in whether a job or career will be the right fit for you.

Understanding your emotions can also help you maintain your optimism and cope with stress during a long job search – it can help you stay positive while you find the right role for you.

If you would like to know more about emotional intelligence and how it can help you at work as a manager and leader, go to our sister site WiseWolf Talking– Leadership, Management, Career and Personal Development.  If you would like to know what emotional intelligence might mean for you in your life outside work then please visit WiseWolf’s Your Happiness Factor.

If you would like to read Dr Goleman’s book click on the picture link below and if you would like to try out an EQ test try this link http://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3038

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career. You can email her atwendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 

 

 

Becoming a Leader Today – Can you have friends in the team?

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...
Image via Wikipedia

It is remarkable that most of our metaphors for leadership seem to come from the battlefield.  Well I suppose, when you think about it, it isn’t that surprising.  After all, that is where it all started with leading the tribe and then leading the army!

Doesn’t it sound confrontational?

So what about modern leadership with its concept of servant leadership and leadership as a dialogue?  Thinking about that led me into thinking about leadership and friendship more generally (no pun intended).

Many moons ago when I started to manage people – in those days you heard little of leadership in the workplace – you were warned not to try to be friends with the people you managed.  Even at quite junior levels in the Civil Service, you were expected to forego the friendships you had already, if they were with members of the team you were to manage, on promotion.

Certainly, personal friendship can make both managing and leading more difficult.

As for closer personal relationships well that can be a minefield.  But, remember, in many small businesses, husband and wife teams work together successfully alongside other family members.

I have found myself managing and being managed by friends.  Also, I have been in teams led by friends and have had friends in teams that I have led. Honestly, I can’t remember it causing much of a problem for me and for my friends; apart from the loss of the odd lunch where we would have shared confidences.  But, in truth, I can see the potential for others to feel threatened by the relationship we had.

I looked up various dictionary definitions of friendship – one had a statement about “mutual trust and support”. Now, therein, may be a potential problem.

I wonder if relationships can be truly mutually supportive, when one party is in a position of power over the other.  Surely, even when the leader is fully committed to servant leadership, there is something of an in balance of power between the leader and the led – the degree depending on the circumstances.

In my own experience, the friendship survived the leadership experience but sometimes it did take maturity and judgment.

I suspect friendship works much better when goodwill exists between the leader and all members of the team.  In those circumstances, trust and support are part of the culture and all feel its benefits.

But, if you do find yourself with personal friends in teams you lead, I would recommend an early discussion with the friends about the ground rules.  I believe you need to be completely honest about how you intend to play it.

I believe, as well, that it is better to let other people in the team know from you that you are friends.  If you don’t tell them, you can guarantee they will find out at some point later and feel betrayed.

In any case you will need to reassure all that there will be no favouritism and, my word, you will need to make sure you don’t show it.

I hope you are blessed understanding friends and an even more understanding team!

Have you ‘led’ friends or been ‘led’ by them?  Please send me your comments on your experience.
I am Wendy Mason and I work as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger.  I have worked with many different kinds of people going through personal  and career change. If you would like my help, please email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439.  I will be very pleased to hear from you. I offer half an hour’s free telephone coaching to readers of this blog who quote WW1 – email me to arrange.

  • Becoming a Leader Today – Manifesto for a Servant Leader (wisewolftalking.com)