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Tuning In: Improving Your Listening Skills

by Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal.

Plenty of programs teach people to speak—but few train them to listen.

Even before the age of digital distractions, people could remember only about 10% of what was said in a face-to-face conversation after a     brief distraction, according to a 1987 study that remains a key gauge of conversational recall. Researchers believe listening skills have since fallen amid more multitasking and interruptions. Most people can think more than twice as fast as the average person talks, allowing the mind to wander.

The failure to listen well not only prolongs meetings and discussions but also can hurt relationships and damage careers. However, it is  possible to improve your listening skills—first, by becoming aware of the ways you may tune others out.

Some people are busy thinking about what they want to say next. One salesman repeatedly urged a customer to set a meeting with company decision makers, says Paul Donehue, who coached the salesman. "The customer said yes, and the salesman said again, 'If we could just schedule that meeting.' You could see that he totally missed it," says Mr. Donehue, president of Londonderry, N.H., sales-management consulting firm Paul Charles & Associates.

Others listen only long enough to figure out whether the speaker's views conform to their own, says Bernard Ferrari, author of "Power Listening" and dean of the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, in Baltimore. Still others interrupt to spout solutions—often before the problem has fully been identified, Dr. Ferrari says.

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How Much Work Is TOO Much Work?

by Coaching Out Of The Box
How Much Work Is TOO Much Work?

Do you find yourself saying yes to new projects and social commitments way more often than you intend to? Feeling a little frayed at the edges and wondering when enough is enough? Coaching Out of the Box®'s own Amy Rupert was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about how to recognize and manage things when work and life get full to the brim and become downright overwhelming - an issue almost all of us have come face to face with at some point.

So how do you know when to say no, or when to give yourself a break? Read the interview for some great tips on balancing everything that's on your plate, being kind to yourself, and yes, still getting a whole lot done. (Hint: one of our favourite tips involves taking a nice loooong shower each morning.) Want more? The Wall Street Journal also featured Amy's tips in a live interview.

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How do you Measure the Return on Investment for Coaching?

by Coaching Out Of The Box
How do you Measure the Return on Investment for Coaching?

So how does one measure coaching ROI? This has been a popular question since way back when coaching was formally established. However, until recently, the quest to effectively measuring coaching ROI has been an ever elusive and sometimes even likened to trying to “measure snowflakes”. This slippery nature of coaching ROI is partly because there are so many variables and elements at play. Measuring the impact of soft skills on business is always a challenge—human relationships are complex and so many factors affect the bottom line.

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Action Planning in Action

by Amy Ruppert

One of the things that makes a coaching exchange unique is that there is, and always will be, a request for taking action by the coach to the coachee. Without this, it’s just an interesting conversation.

Seventeen years ago, when I began my coaching practice, I realized the best way to grow my business, which happen to be doing something no one had ever heard of or had any experience with, was to coach as many people in impromptu exchanges as often as I could so they would become evangelists for coaching. One of the first people I tried this with was a good friend who had become a brainstorming and downloading partner with me in my previous business. We’d often have lunch or get together for drinks and spend hours exchanging ideas for each other’s business and download problems we were having with our businesses. It was always very stimulating and interesting as we both understood one another’s world and the ideas flowed fast and furiously. But as interesting and stimulating as the conversation was, very little stuck when it came down to actually doing something about it because there was always something missing from those conversations.

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Strategize ; “The smart way of getting somewhere with the least amount of effort or cost.”

by Alison Hendren

Developing efficient, supportive and enjoyable strategies to help people achieve their goals is what is key to providing value in coaching. Most people really want and need a strategy to make what they are wanting to accomplish/achieve/solve/create happen. Just recently I was speaking with a client who discovered a critical lapse in communication by her team. They implemented a fundamental change but forgot to communicate it to the key stakeholders! The change was a good one but they just forgot to tell people before they made it…sound familiar?

There was a huge missed opportunity to celebrate the very positive change along with so many other pieces. So, what was she to do? We talked a bit and then focused on what opportunities were present and what strategy she could put into place that would support an even bigger change initiative. By the time we were done, not only had she come up with a way to solve this that would be empowering for her team, but she came up with two key strategies that could profoundly strengthen herself as a leader, i.e. collaboration and innovation.

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