Irrespective of what role you perform, the key to every success is relationships and every relationship is made up of conversations held on a regular basis. Conversations decide the destiny of relationships. What makes conversations more effective is beyond words.
This article is focused on some coaching methods that can create a positive shift in your relationships as a leader or HR manager.
Coaching is a structured methodology to change conversations to make them serve us more productively. Start with some simple tips to see how it can change your relationship with others.
Don’t worry about applying everything at one go, pick anyone that sounds easy and get going.
Remember, professional trained coaches practise these techniques for years to make them part of their way of being. Hence, don’t be disappointed if you find it challenging to apply any of these techniques immediately. Just try and try again.
Before indulging in a conversation with anyone, just pick any one tip and see how you would like to change the conversation. Take it as an experiment.
1. Talk less, listen more
Try talking just five per cent of the time. Deliberately pause to listen to the person and their context. People engage when they find they are heard. Most of the timewe tend to be in a hurry to respond and close the conversation. In doing so, we miss important information from the speakers, leaving them feeling unheard.
2. Validate your listening
Replay to confirm and validate what you heard to acknowledge what the speakers said. This helps themknow that you were paying attention to what’s important to them. This certainly helps them trust you more.We all think we listen well but actually we don’t. Use nudges like ‘hmm’, ‘ok’, ‘alright’, ‘really?’,‘that’s great’, ‘I understand’, and so on, to stay in the conversation.
3. Tell less, ask more
When someone comes to you for advice, try brainstorming with them by asking questions to allow them to think about their own ideas. Create space for reflection. When people find their own answers, they are more committed and responsible for the same. At the same time, when you provide them the space to explore their own solutions, you move forward on the trust and relationship with them.
4. Find a reason to appreciate
Whether it is punctuality, a good e-mail, a good way of handling conflict or a good habit, there are several reasons we can find to appreciate and acknowledge. Createan intention to appreciate something in someone in each conversation, no matter how small it is. Your small observation about someone can create a big impact in their minds, and of course, in your relationship with them.
Acknowledgment and appreciation encourage positive behaviour. Acknowledge what you want to see more in your environment. The same happens with negative feedback. What we focus on grows.
5. Contract each conversation
Contracting is not always legal or formal. Just understanding clearly ‘What’s expected out of me in the conversation?’ and ‘What is the other person expecting? ’is also called contracting.
In daily conversations, we do not contract and the result is that we find it hard to conclude the conversations in our minds. Common signs are multiple conversations nested in one conversation, lack of clarity, misunderstandings around accountability and multiple conversation threads thereafter.
Once you start contracting in the conversation about what exactly both you (as the listener) and the speaker want from each other, you will notice that you are not only saving time and energy, but also creating more clarity in your relationships.
6. Watch your inner voice
While listening to someone, notice how your internal dialogue is interfering withyour listening. Take a pause, see how you are making meaning of the conversation based on your judgment and try rationalisingthat to ensure your biases are not adding to the content of the conversation.
Being a human, we all have biases, what gives rise to judgment is our permission to mix it with the conversation outside. When you consciously keep them separate, you create space to see people as they are, a great way to create acceptance and relationship. Next time, the moment you feel judgmental about someone, think about their family, children and overall system to know where they come from. Only you can work with your judgment that’s creating a long-lasting perception about someone you barely know.
7. Practise re-framing versus contradicting
When someone says “I don’t think I can do this”, the reframing means “Does it mean you haven’t tried or have you tried but you couldn’t succeed?”
This helps conversations stay positive and allows some of the experiences define our future. Another example is when someone says “This is not at all possible based on my experience“. Reframe this to say “This seems impossible yet due to tested methods. How about creating new ways of doing things that have not been tried before?”
Reframe your conversation each time it sounds negative or impossible. Use the word AND versus using BUT. Everything can be reframed. Do it for yourself, do it for others.
8. Know your role in the conversation
We all perform several roles in our lives and every role has a different expectation from us. However, our daily schedules do not allow us to think about the expectations at that moment and our autopilot gets us to apply standard responses, most of the time,like applying our boss, like Parent, like temperament with our teams. Just a short pause and contracting with ourselves can hugely help decide the type of response we would like to give in a particular situation.
In COVID times, this is very essential as there are hardly any boundaries between professional and personal space. Just ask yourself ‘What’s my role in this conversation? How would I like to be here?’ A boss, a friend, a partner, or even a kid can help you set the right mode for your conversation.
9. Gift attention intentionally
Attention is the most precious and inexpensive gift you can give to people who are important to you. Be it team members or family. Paying attention to their needs and finding time to share a bit of your space in your own way, goes very far as relationships are concerned.
Remember, the most important feeling for someone to authentically contribute is to feel valued and heard. Create intentions to give attention.
In coaching relationships, intention is the foundation of every conversation.
Our focus is always to positively support and develop people and work towards finding a solution versus finding faults. As professional coaches, we are trained to keep our judgments and biases in check to keep the conversation clean and contamination free.
Most of the conversations are contaminated due to a cocktail of several judgments we hold for people, our own fears and fixed way of thinking. The good news is that, a real clear and open conversation is possible by changing the focus. When you change the conversation, you change its outcome as well.
As a strategy, choose the outcome before you start the conversation and enjoy healthy relationships around you.
Having the intention to support, develop and be non-judgmental produces an environment of trust, rapport and positivity, which is an essential ingredient to breed innovative and creative cultures and teams.
Ask an ICF-credentialed coach to help you take the next step forward on your own journey to develop new leadership skills
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organisation leading the global advancement of the coaching profession and fostering coaching’s role as an integral part of a thriving society. Founded in 1995, its 35,000-plus members located in more than 140 countries and territories work toward the common goals of enhancing awareness of coaching and upholding the integrity of the profession through lifelong learning and upholding the highest ethical standards. Through the work of its six unique family organisations, ICF empowers professional coaches, coaching clients, organisations, communities and the world through coaching. Visit coachingfederation.org for more information.
In India, ICF is represented by six vibrant chapters, all led by volunteers — ICF Bengaluru, ICF Chennai, ICF Delhi NCR, ICF Mumbai, ICF Pune and ICF Hyderabad.
The author, Jaya Bhateja is an ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC) and a director on the 2021 ICF Coach Training Global Board. An expert at leading global coaching practices, such as Stakeholder Centered Coaching, Social and Emotional Intelligence and Personality assessments, she brings over 16 years of experience in leadership development, executive coaching, consulting, coach mentoring, coaching skills and coach supervision. Bhateja has led the Capability Development function for India and Global Strategy business for Accenture Consulting. During her stint with Accenture and Siemens, she has headed L&D and lead HR respectively.