Mindful listening is an integral skill for any coach, leader, or friend. Holding a simple conversation may not seem like it requires skill, only participation, but to really get to know someone, you need the ability to listen to them. Good listening habits are the key to seeing things from another person’s perspective, and to building connections between yourself and others.
- Listen mindfully to what the other person is saying. To put it another way, avoid thinking about your response while they are still talking. Pauses in the conversation might feel awkward initially, but most people will appreciate that you don’t jump to conclusions right away. Say, “You make an interesting point. Let me think about it for a second,” and they will usually be happy to.
- Repeat back what the other person has said to show that you were listening. This allows you to make sure that what you heard is what they meant. Paraphrasing their information and hearing it again allows you to better understand their point of view.
- Keep your body language appropriate to the current conversation and show attentiveness. Appearing to be interested goes a long way in providing a space of comfort and trust. Keep your stance casual, nod when appropriate, and make eye contact without staring at them.
- Watch the other person’s body language for more information about what they are saying. Equally important, watch for clues into how they are responding to what you are saying. Not all communication is words.
- Avoid distractions. Ignore your phone and turn off the ringer unless you’re expecting an emergency call. Find a quiet place where interruptions from passersby will be less likely. Keep video screens out of your line of sight so that they don’t catch your eye.
- Don’t assume that you know what somebody is thinking or what they meant when they said something vague. Ask for clarification so the conversation can continue to flow in a positive way.
- Be honest in your responses. If you don’t know something, say so. Improved listening can help you in both your work and personal conversations. It improves your ability to establish relationships and build bonds with others. Practice these habits with each conversation to improve your skills and, by doing that, make conversations more valuable for everyone involved.
If you are looking for an in-depth approach to becoming a better listener, consider our Coaching Fundamentals™ program.
A common thread among people is to want to be heard and understood. In both business and personal life, opinions, thoughts and ideas are communicated and often reiterated time and time again in an effort to ensure those words are received effectively. Unfortunately, the time and energy spent in recycling the same conversation is often wasted. This can be especially true in a business meeting where time is of the essence and people’s focus often wanders to their to-do lists and projects piling on their desks. Laser speak can be the answer to these issues and improve not only time management, but communication. This efficiency tool helps to keep conversations to the point and eliminates unnecessary additional information and reiteration. It focuses the attention of both the speaker and the listener by not allowing the point to be lost in an endless barrage of words and metaphors. The key to laser speech is to use as few words as possible to identify the point or to respond to another person’s comments. It helps to maximize the time spent in meetings or group communications, including written format and requires people to focus their thinking specifically on what is being said and the shortest response they need to make an impacting statement.
Implementing laser speaking is as simple as these three steps:
- Identify the reasons for laser speaking and demonstrate it personally. If members of the team understand the reasoning behind this approach, they are more likely to get on board with it.
- Help focus the discussion by encouraging only laser speech responses. Using positive dialogue, identify when someone is not quite grasping the technique or has forgotten to focus their point effectively.
- Ensure everyone has had an opportunity to speak within the time allotted. With this technique, additional persons who may otherwise have remained quiet may take the opportunity to speak up. This can help create a more rounded conversation overall and bring a better outcome to the discussion.
Once this technique has been implemented and understood, team meetings can take on a whole new level of productivity and the team dynamic can positively move forward with a renewed momentum.
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With 2017 upon us, it’s now time to sharpen those pencils (or get your typing fingers ready) and sit down for a good old goal planning session. But not just ANY goal planning session… a 'S-M-A-R-T' goal planning session...
Have you heard of SMART goals before? There are a few variations of the acronym floating around, but our favourite here at Coaching Out of the Box® is this one:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Realistic
T – Timely
In a nutshell, creating smart goals means digging deeper into each one to make sure you have a plan of attack for achieving them. Instead of saying for example ‘I will eat healthier this year’ (which is of course quite broad), you might say ‘I will achieve a healthier diet by incorporating 2 vegetable snacks to my daily routine’.
To break down creating a smart goal even further, here are some points for each letter in the SMART acronym:
S – Specific
*Who: Who is involved?
*What: What do I want to accomplish?
*Where: Identify a location.
*When: Establish a time frame.
*Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
*Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
M - Measurable
To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……
How much? How many?
How will I know when it is accomplished?
A – Attainable
“Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them”
R – Realistic
To make your goal realistic, make sure it’s one you’re both willing and able to work on!
T – Timely
Create a timeframe and a deadline for your goal, and ensure it fits with what you’re trying to accomplish. A sense of urgency is fabulous for achieving goals – it keeps you on your toes!
One of the most popular goals we see posted online or talked about as we enter a new year seems to be for individuals and companies or organizations to create stronger leaders. At Coaching Out of the Box®, we believe that EVERYONE should have coaching skills – just imagine what that could do for your company, business, or even personal life!
We want to hear from you! What is your 2017 goal? Comment on this blog post or any of our social media channels so we can follow along with you! If you had to pick ONE goal, turn it into a smart goal and share it with us – we can’t wait to see what you come up with.
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Happy New Year and Happy Smart Goal Planning from Coaching Out of the Box®
Oh and P.S. - we have a coupon for $200 off if you register by Jan 16th! Use code 200_OFFW17 at checkout.
Every December people are faced with the realization that the New Year is quickly approaching and they need to work on a list of resolutions for their inevitable change. Unfortunately, by the second week of January these resolutions are usually forgotten and life returns to the usual way it has always been. Why is it that we want to start out the year so strong but quickly lose our resolve? Perhaps it as something to do with arbitrary dates and deadlines, quitting cold turkey and forced submission to things we otherwise wouldn’t be doing. This year, perhaps the key is to start earlier and do small changes with no deadline in mind and no guilt or shame. Here are our 6 tips for starting the New Year off right:
- Focus on getting more sleep. This doesn’t have to be several extra hours per night, but it should be something measurable, even if it means going to bed an extra 30 minutes early every night. Most people are lacking in quantity and quality of sleep and it impacts their daily lives more than they are aware, since it is a chronic condition. Adding an extra few minutes to hours per night of quality sleep may make a huge difference, but not take much in the way of sacrifice.
- Add an extra fruit of vegetable to the menu per day. Trying to hit the daily recommended amount of every nutrient is difficult, especially with a hectic schedule, but buying 6 apples at a time and eating one a day while in the car or on the run, is a completely doable change. Try adding something green as well to get in those extra nutrients the body relies on, especially in dark, cold winter months with cold & flu season in full swing.
- Add in 30 minutes of any exercise every other day. This doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the gym – try a walk to the grocery store instead of driving, or park at the far end of the parking lot and walk to and from the store. Even getting out of the office chair every hour for 5 minutes of walking around the office can make a difference in the level of exercise the body is getting. If all else fails, turn on some music at home and dance while dinner is cooking.
- Give time, money or extra items to those in need. Clutter can lead to an increase in stress levels, so a quick de-clutter of the home can show marked improvements in mood and outlook, plus donating the items feels good too. It also helps us to feel better when we help others, so make small changes to open up time in the weekly or monthly schedule to assist someone else, even if it is just a visit to chat with someone who is lonely. This small change can make a big difference to more than one person.
- Turn off the technology, at least briefly. This one may be a bit tougher since a lot of people are actually addicted to their technology, but the brain needs time to wind down and this may help. The key is to actually press the power-off button, not just to put the ringer to silent or vibrate. It doesn’t have to be for an entire day at a time, but choosing to do this simple thing can show improvements over time, plus the electronics could use a break too.
- Use moderation in all things. Depriving oneself of their favourite foods, pastimes or vices can lead to all sorts of negative effects – it is an unfortunate part of being human. These treats can be motivating and uplifting, two things that we still need.
If we choose to view small changes, such as the above, in a positive way, they can make a huge impact on the future. Instead of focusing on missing out, being too busy or trying to do too much, too quickly, we can focus on the benefits of even the tiniest improvements. Every step forward is a step in the right direction, no matter how small.
So what about you? What changes are you planning on making in 2017? For many of the people connected to us it is using coaching and coaching skills to bring positive change to their lives and the lives of others! If you want to learn more about we do please connect with us!
Feel free to contact us via email: [email protected], or at any of our social media sites:
Do you feel overwhelmed daily? Do you feel like your life is over complicated and you just don’t know where to start to get it back on track to clear your mind? Mental clarity is just as important for your health as it is for your work/career life and path!
“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama
Regardless of your daily activities and schedule, we all have just a short 24 hours in each day – sometimes it seems almost impossible just to get it all done! It can seem that for every item we check off of that to-do list, we just add another one or two. But with a little work and just a few stress-relieving habits, we can alleviate this feeling of overwhelm and trade it in for a new sense of achievement and simplicity.
Here’s the Coaching Out of the Box® Top 7 things you can do in your day to get to this new fresh state:
- Focus on only the necessary tasks – highlight those tasks that ae key for your day and cross them off as you go. If it’s not priority, keep it on your list so that you don’t forget, but leave it for another time.
- Remember to stop for little breaks and take deep breaths! There are numerous studies (like this one) online that state that the most productive people with for 50-60 minutes at a time before taking a 15-20 minute break. Getting back to work after taking these little breaks throughout the day allows your mind to be fresh for each task.
- Set realistic deadlines for your important tasks. Trying to do a lot in a short timeframe may only lead to more stress if you cannot accomplish everything on time.
- Try not to overthink each individual task. Focusing in on those important tasks can keep you moving forward on important projects!
- Be sure to continue focusing on personal needs – don’t neglect these! Needs such as sleep, food, and social interactions will also ensure your productivity level is consistent.
- Learn to say no when it’s appropriate. Saying yes to every single thing that comes your way is another thing that will contribute to being overwhelmed. This might be the single most important tip!
- Focus on ONE task at a time. Many of us are used to ‘multi-tasking’ however this may lead to dragging out your to-do list and can also lead to tasks being completed but not necessarily well. This lack of focus is easily corrected by turning your attention to one thing at a time.
By now you might have noticed a commonality amongst these tips – FOCUS! Priority and focus together will not only ensure that you complete tasks well, but will alleviate the stress that all of us get bogged down with from time to time.
Do you ever wonder how you can learn to focus and prioritize effectively? If you are wondering this yourself and have never considered coaching, there’s no better time than the present. Your coach can help you identify important tasks and projects and help you along your own personal path to success. If you want to learn more about our class/program openings, please contact us here: http://www.coachingoutofthebox.com/contact-us
As always, feel free to connect with us via email: [email protected], or at any of our social media sites: