The Oprah Winfrey TV show started on September 8 1986 and ran continuously for 25 years. In the final show Oprah said that over the 25 years, she had spoken to nearly 30,000 ‘hopefuls’ – in other words, people who wanted to be on her show. Obviously, very few made it through the series of interviews culminating in their being chosen to appear on the show.
She said: "I've talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common: They all wanted validation. If I could reach through this television and sit on your sofa or sit on a stool in your kitchen right now, I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: 'Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?'
"Understanding that one principle, that everybody wants to be heard, has allowed me to hold the microphone for you all these years with the least amount of judgment…it's helped me to try to do that with an open mind and to do it with an open heart. It has worked for this platform, and I guarantee you it will work for yours. Try it with your children, your husband, your wife, your boss, your friends. Validate them. 'I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me.'"
This is a powerful lesson. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if every man, woman and child felt that they had been seen, heard and that what they said mattered. Isn’t that a huge lesson for each of us? We have a role to play, even if we don’t agree with what the person is saying.
Let me share a specific example: Geoff lives this principle in an effective way. I used to smile when our grandchildren were young and came to him complaining about each other. He would listen intently, and quietly say, ‘I have taken note of what you said’. He gave them the impression that he had seen them, he had heard them and what they said mattered. Usually that was the end of the conversation! They felt validated and were satisfied.
Practice this principle and you will be helping to make the world a better place for everyone.
My questions for you are:
- How powerfully do you feel the presence of others?
- In which ways do you acknowledge a person’s presence, even if you aren’t able to attend to them immediately?
- How open and non-judgemental do you appear?
- What could you do to focus more intently on the person speaking?
- What do you practice in order to minimise barriers to your being more receptive to what the person is saying?
- How can you show the speaker that what they say matters – even if you don’t agree with what they are saying?
For more information on Executive Coaching, either ‘in person’ or via electronic means, please contact Brenda Eckstein, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +27 82 4993311, www.strategy-leadership.com
Privacy remains an important right. Yet in some ways, new laws may appear to hamper our ability to communicate with our intended audiences. Reminding our clients of our existence and building relationships through communicating, on a regular basis, is key to the successful running of our businesses. So how are new laws going to dampen the way we operate?
This is a huge topic and I was pleased to see how Gary Eckstein has taken the lead in clarifying and simplifying the impact of legal changes for Small and Medium Businesses. In this article, ‘Here’s how the new spam laws could benefit SME’s’, published August 8 2019, his focus is on small businesses in Australia because that is the target audience of SmartCompany, the reputable magazine for which he has written this article. However, his content applies to a far wider range and is authentic as he substantiates his argument with clear evidence.
In addition, on Sunday August 11, in Let’s Talk Business, 1 million listeners on Australia’s most widely listened to radio stations (2GB (Sydney), 3AW (Melbourne), 4BC (Brisbane), 2CC (Canberra) and 6PR (Perth)) listened to the broadcast in which Gary was interviewed. Regarded by Mailchimp as one of their ‘experts’ Gary’s academic background (Master's degree from Henley-on-Thames where his research thesis was on e-marketing) and practical experience in business consulting and training combine to make him a sought after trainer and speaker at business gatherings and at universities.
Above are just two examples of how he shares his expertise and how his advice is sought. Visit his website and gain further valuable information.
My questions for you are:
• What are you doing to connect with the international experts in fields which affect your business?
• How can you adapt the valuable advice given in Gary’s article and broadcast to suit your needs?
• What is the most significant message relevant to your situation?
For more information on e-marketing and Mailchimp training please contact Gary via e-mail at email@example.com or visit his website www.organicweb.com.au. Please remember to scroll to the bottom to see the video of his recent lecture at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
For more information on executive coaching, mentoring or personal strategy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
As a tribute to the wonderful, vibrant JvB, affectionately known as ‘the Traffic Guy’, I am republishing an article which I wrote in 2013. The article below first appeared on my website on February 27, 2013. It was later adapted and included in my book, ‘GROW: How to turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones’, published in 2017 and still available on Amazon.
Johann was a legend and his legacy lives on through the thousands that benefitted from his wise counsel, warmth and kindness. An ex-police-officer, he was a man of conviction who inspired people to do what was ethical. He graciously shared his wisdom and knowledge, encouraging people to be the best that they could be. I was privileged to participate in many of his public seminars and take part in his advanced driving courses.
As East Coast Radio’s ‘Traffic Guy’ for more than 30 years, he became well-known throughout the province. He reported and shared information on the state of our roads at regular times during the day. He warned his audience about traffic jams, accidents and road closures, advising of preferable routes. Listeners waited eagerly for his next announcements as he lightened up any situation with his wonderful, wicked sense of humour. Others knew him personally through attending his talks or going on courses where he and his teams promoted safe driving through his driving school. He had a huge impact on the standards of driving in our province and we are extremely grateful for the many ways in which he enriched our lives.
Johan was gentleman and role model. He was a popular man who was dearly loved. He died last week and will be sadly missed – but his legacy lives on. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
Life is an exciting journey and you can choose to be a passenger or drive your own vehicle. Which is your preferred way of functioning? And if you are in the driver’s seat, how defensively do you function? This is important in any place that you are ‘on the road’. However, in South Africa where the accident rate and hi-jacking rate are unfortunately exceptionally high, we need to pay even more attention to reducing risk.
Recently at one of our Sunday Breakfast Club meetings held at the auspicious Oyster Box Hotel at Umhlanga, we were privileged to have East Coast Radio’s, ‘Trafficguy’, Johann von Bargen as our guest-speaker. Affectionately known as ‘JvB’, he emphasised lessons and showed us practical ways of minimising risk.
By combining his unique experience in the ‘Police Force’ and practical day-to-day knowledge working with traffic and mishaps, using humour he painted vivid ‘word pictures’ and regaled us with stories, each of which had a powerful lesson. His teachings provide excellent metaphors for reducing risks as we travel the journey of life. Let’s look at just a few of those covered:
1. The risk of separation
In discussing ‘anti hi-jacking techniques’, JvB asked us to distinguish between ‘theft’ and ‘hijacking’. Do you know the difference? He explained that technically, ‘hijacking’ is where the thieves separate you from your car’. The next question becomes: what can I do to minimise the risk of this happening to me?
In life, our adaption to others’ expectations often robs us of being our ‘authentic selves’. Our real selves and the ‘person we have become’ are separated. We sometimes no longer feel ‘whole’. So, what can we do to make ourselves more aware of what we are doing and minimise the risk of losing our true identity? ‘Executive Coaching’ can play an effective and important role in ‘getting us back on the road’.
2. Respond rather than react
‘Traffic Guy’ warned us that if we were in the process of being hijacked that we should not ‘fight with the hijackers’. That sounds obvious. These guys have guns and could use them. JvB warned, ‘these guys react to you in the way that you interact with them’.
Isn’t that true in most aspects of our lives? In highly emotional situations, if we can pause, step back and respond (rather than react) we have a far higher chance of getting out of these difficult circumstances. Practice in these techniques is an important part of our ‘executive coaching’ programmes.
3. ‘Think like a hijacker’
JvB asked a simple question: what do hi-jackers really want? Most of us failed that question because our automatic answer was ‘my car’. No, that is not what the hi-jackers really want. Occasionally they may need a ‘getaway car’, but in most cases their goal is ‘money’. They want to get rid of the car as quickly as possible and convert it to cash.
So, what information are we unknowingly providing to hi-jackers? What patterns of behaviour do we perpetuate? For example, do we always leave home at the same time, follow the same route, and arrive at the office at the same time each day? How predictable are we? In doing this we are providing observable information that hi-jackers can quickly and easily use to their advantage.
By consciously breaking patterns we make ourselves less vulnerable (to those with negative intentions). If we want to reduce the risk of being hi-jacked we should consciously be aware of our behaviour and purposely change our patterns.
So, what is it that others really want from us? If we know what they want and how they think, we can adapt our behaviour to reduce the risk of misfortune. How do we consciously ‘tune in’ to their needs and consider the way they are thinking? Understanding and not presuming that others needs are the same as ours goes a long way in reducing risk.
4. Look far ahead and be pro-active
By ‘far ahead’ JvB is not talking about only as far as two cars in front of us. The emphasis is on distance. The further we project our vision, the more likely we are to be able to observe, interpret and take appropriate action. Timing is important.
In addition, I like to help clients to look at peripheral vision. What is happening ahead, behind, to the left to the right, above and below? Again, this metaphor can be used in ‘driving our lives’. For example, ‘above’ and ‘below’ can apply literally or in our families, to different generations. In our work lives, it could refer to levels of management in large organisations. Are we alert to what might be happening? This links to ‘Who moved my cheese’ and the principle, ‘smell the cheese often’. What changes are there. What might be happening?
In coaching we provide simple ‘self-observations’ and ‘practices’ that help to ‘look beyond’ and take appropriate action. What might be happening beyond our ‘normal’ comfort zones? We need to constantly ‘scan the environment so that we can minimize threats and maximise opportunities.
5. Keep moving
Further advice given by JvB was ‘keep moving’. If we are moving, especially at high-crime intersections, we are less of a target than those who are stationery. The statistic that he gave was that by moving (instead of stopping) we have 97% less chance of being hi-jacked. An example that he gave was that if an individual were travelling at 20km per hour, no person ‘on foot’ would be able to hold a gun at their heads. And a large percentage of hi-jackers are on foot.
In addition, easing up slowly to an intersection where the traffic-light is red means that we spend less time in a dangerous area. By looking far ahead and pacing our driving we can arrive at the intersection when the light is green, or even spend less time at the intersection. By proceeding without stopping we reduce our risk enormously.
So, how do we apply this metaphor to ‘driving our lives’? The more we fully understand dangers and the more we consciously modify behaviour to minimize potential risk, the more likely we are to proceed without incidents.
6. Stop at a safe distance
Stopping too late or in a dangerous area can have severe consequences. This may sound like an unnecessary warning? But embroidered with Johann's real-life examples, it is an important lesson.
How often do we, hampered by diverted attention come to a halt too late? And this applies in all aspects of our lives. Focus is important. We need to find the balance and still take the risks necessary for us to grow. Stagnation results if we spend too long in our ‘comfort zones’. Yet we need to be aware and consciously stop before it is too late.
7. Reverse park
This is an interesting lesson. I have found that in countries like Australia, where the risk is much lower than here, people are much more likely to ‘reverse park’ than in this country where we need to do this as a matter of habit. The advantages are enormous and Johann explored the advantages and possible barriers to our doing this.
So, how does this lesson apply in other areas of our lives? If we are facing the right way at the start of a journey, we have a ‘head-start’ on those who need to manoeuvre to get going. Think of the time and effort it takes to first reverse, turn your car and then get going. Always reverse park and you’ll be able to have a clean start in the journeys ahead.
These are just a few of the profound lessons shared by Johann and I’m grateful for the role he plays in making this world a safer place for everyone.
How can you take the ‘lessons in anti-hijacking’ and use these as metaphors for improving the way you cope with challenges in your life?
For further information on Executive Coaching, please contact Brenda Eckstein on +27 82 4993311 or e-mail email@example.com. The website is www.strategy-leadership.com
• Who might the hi-jackers in your life be?
• What do they want from you?
• When and where are they most likely to attack?
• How can you avoid being ambushed by them?
• Which techniques above are most likely to give a safer passage as you journey through life?
Networking involves linking people with people, people with information and people with opportunities. But we need to be open to recognising and optimising opportunities in order to be effective in helping others.
Let me tell you a story to demonstrate this. Years ago, I joined the National Speakers Association of Australia, Sydney chapter. I love meeting interesting people and holding quality conversations. On each visit to Australia I attended a meeting or conference and as a professional speaker, learnt a great deal from programmes and the amazing people I met.
Amongst them were Rob Salisbury and Monika Newman. As in any networking it is important to build relationships and sustain them. We kept in touch and I was delighted when they invited me to contribute an article to one of their annual composite motivational books. Since then I have contributed most years and am delighted that the latest book was launched in February 2019.
I am pleased to offer you a complimentary copy of Motivating your Mind – Inspiring your Spirit which you can view by clicking here.
To view my article, click on my front cover photo that will link directly to my story. My article, Use your Low-energy Times Productively can be found on pages 51 and 52.
Congratulations and thanks to Rob and Monika on this outstanding achievement.
- What are you doing to share your knowledge with others?
- How can you share opportunities with people in your network?
- To meet exciting people what can you do, where can you go?
- How can you share this motivational book with as many people as possible?
- In which ways can you tell Rob and Monika how you appreciate their efforts?
- If you enjoyed an article in this book, how soon can you send a positive comment to the author of that story?
For more information on networking strategy and training or executive coach please contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is a continuum. However, often at this time of the year, we start considering our New Year’s resolutions in order to build a brighter future. But, how often do people follow through on these intentions?
While I wholeheartedly support developing carefully thought-out personal strategy, I believe that we often neglect plans for implementing and sustaining our goals. In addition, we tend to concentrate on what we need to start doing. For example, we may decide that we should start spending an hour at the gym five times a week. However, we might be doomed for failure because we do not have the capacity to start this new activity unless we stop doing something else.
In addition, complacency can be a stumbling block. While we plan what we wish to concurrently start and stop doing, we also need to remind ourselves to continue doing the things that energise us, bring us joy and help us to grow. These may include everyday experiences which are important to us. For example I was intrigued reflecting on the following glimpses of my life:
The above photo, taken by my daughter, Lara, in December 2018, shows me with my special Grand-dog, Harps. We were on one of my favourite walks in Manly, New South Wales, Australia. Here you can see us at a great coffee shop in one of the alleys. The backdrop is colourful street-art. Because there is pavement seating, Harps is allowed to be at the table with us. So this outing combined my love of family, dogs, walking, being next to the sea, vibrant colours, appreciation of creativity and beauty and interest in the world around me.
I was reminded of another similar joyous occasion many years ago. I smiled when I looked at the photo below as it brought back memories of one of the other many important dogs in our lives.
The above photo was taken in January 1969, fifty years ago. Let me set the scene: three days before our wedding, Ed’s brother Roy surprised us, knowing how much we love dogs. Our wedding gift was a miniature poodle puppy! Antoine Comte de Kintia (simply known as Toni) was precious. How could we not include him as the guest-of-honour at our wedding? Here, at the wedding ceremony, he is held by my father, Campbell.
Dogs are an integral part of our lives. Although we leave our own dogs at home when we travel, there are always opportunities where we can enjoy other people’s dogs. Above, in January 2018, my husband Ed is seen with Kevin and Gavin’s Bella at Hout Bay, Western Cape, South Africa where we were holidaying.
These are examples of incorporating experiences that bring out the best in me, energising me and enabling me to confidently pursue my personal strategy. I encourage you to do the same. Have a visible list of your ‘touchstones’, those sights, sounds, smells, tastes and experiences that help you to feel your best. Incorporating these on a regular basis will help you to feel good, be energised and enable you to stretch yourselves in working towards your vision.
My questions for you are:
- Just as dogs are a theme running through my life, what positive recurring themes are there in your life?
- In which ways do you consciously develop tactics for incorporating the sights, sounds, smells and experiences that bring out the best in you?
- What are you doing to ensure that you continue doing all the things that energise you?
- How can you use positive energy to build your confidence to tackle the more difficult aspects of your personal strategy?
For more information on personal strategy and executive coaching programmes, please contact Brenda at email@example.com
I first published this article a year ago and the feedback was great. So I have decided to share a slightly modified version.
Life is full of countdowns. We prepare for events or calendar dates that will make a numerical or biblical difference to our lives. Children, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a certain date, are often encouraged to count the number of ‘sleeps’ until the event, whether the event be leaving to go on holiday, celebrating their birthday or the arrival of an important person. Anticipation and conscious or unconscious countdowns usually go hand-in-hand.
A significant event for many in the Western world is Christmas, marked on our calendars as December 25th. In the ‘run up’ (or shall we rather refer to it as ‘countdown’) to that date, a popular tradition, again presumably to capture the attention of children, is the counting of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. I was fascinated to read that the counting should start on Christmas Day. It wouldn’t be nearly as exciting for children to begin counting the days only once they have received their presents! Another intriguing fact is that there are hidden meanings to each of the elements in the song starting ‘On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…’.
In general, in the Western world, once the commercial and family frenzy of Christmas have passed, adults tend to focus on the lead up to New Year. Most of us have an array of ‘new years’ in our lives, marked by various religious observances and holidays or a birthday which also results in a new numerical age for us. A ‘new year’ can also come with a change in status, for example, the transition to being legally responsible, retirement age or becoming a ‘pensioner’.
But not many are linked to ‘resolutions’ the way it is expected that people should make ‘new year resolutions’. In my opinion, few people actually enact their stated intentions, whether they be promises to themselves or to others. I’m advocating that people rather first reflect on their past, make meaning out of their reflections and then decide on possible actions.
In order to make this reflection exercise more fun, I have crafted a countdown. It is intended as a means of transitioning to a better ‘way of being’ in 2019. To help you, here are my suggestions and questions. Please list the:
• 12 top achievements in your life
• 11 people who have helped you to achieve
• 10 biggest challenges you have ever faced
• 9 learnings from these challenges
• 8 activities and experiences that energise you
• 7 people you’ll avoid because you find them toxic
• 6 things you need to continue doing
• 5 activities or thoughts you should avoid or minimise
• 4 new undertakings or practices you have space to start engaging in
• 3 things you’ll do differently in 2019
• 2 plans for big celebrations during the year ahead
• 1 way in which you will honour the most important person in your life…yourself!
Further questions for you are:
How will you:
• minimise negative influences and habits
• energise yourself through engaging more in those activities and experiences that have a positive influence on you?
May 2019 be a year filled with good health, great happiness, peace and prosperity. Oh, and have loads of fun doing the things that energise you!
For more information on Executive Coaching or other programmes offered by Brenda Eckstein International, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.strategy-leadership.com
People continue to enrich my life. Recently I was interviewed by the amazing Michelle Pascoe of Optimum Operating Procedures and Services (OOPS!) who works mainly in the casino, gaming and hospitality industries in Australia and elsewhere.
Michelle and I became friends a number of years ago through our mutual membership of the Sydney Chapter of the National Speakers Association of Australia (NSAA) which later became Professional Speakers Australia (PSA). Over the years we have shared many wonderful conversations as our fields of interest and work are intertwined.
My recent interview formed part of Michelle’s Middle Management Movement (M3) series and can be accessed here. She describes the topic as my “tips on how to find and choose the right coach to inspire you to achieve your full potential and sustain your well-being”. The title of the interview was “Choosing the Right Executive Coach” an area of great interest to me. When a good interviewer, like Michelle, sets the scene and asks you the right questions, you discover that you can add value. So please listen to the recording and let me know your thoughts. Thank you!
The building of relationships is an ongoing process. What are you doing to move away from a transactional approach (meeting a person for the first time and holding a conversation) to following up and building the relationship so that you can help each other? Nurture your friendships, hold quality conversations, explore common ground and you will be able to recognise and optimise opportunities for each other.
My questions for you are:
- What are you doing to network with like-minded people?
- How are you improving the quality of your conversations?
- How can you include someone else in a combined effort?
For more information on leadership development, improving your networking or Executive Coaching please contact Brenda on +27 82 4993311 or email@example.com Thank you!
Through positive relationships others can spontaneously assist you in achieving goals you may not have dreamt of. You need to focus on your personal strategy yet be open to using peripheral vision to notice opportunities arising.
Here is an example of how a person helped me to progress. The context involves a webinar, ‘How to be a more productive coach’ which I’ll be presenting on September 20th 2018, from my base in South Africa. This will be for the International Coach Federation (ICF), Australasia Chapter. How did this opportunity materialise? Tracing the ‘golden thread’ to what made this possible was an interesting exercise.
We could go back further to building positive relationships through coaching, but let’s start in 2012, the year when I asked Janine Everson, Director of the Centre for Coaching, University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) if she could recommend coaches whom I could connect with on my next visit to Sydney. Joe Fischer and I met and immediately recognised common bonds and co-incidences through work and family. On my following trip we met for coffee again and he mentioned that Janine would be running a 6-month coaching course (training coaches) in Sydney. As I was currently mentoring emerging coaches for the GSB in Cape Town, I offered and became the pod-mentor for Joe and his group of 6 other participants engaged in the ACC course. I really enjoyed my interaction with that group and we continue meeting during each of my trips to Sydney.
The story evolves and continues to span two continents: When I began studying an M Phil (Management coaching) degree at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa in 2015, I presented a mini-workshop to Joe’s group of coaches at Stephenson Mansell Group in Sydney and discovered that evening that he knew Prof Anthony Grant from the University of Sydney’s Coaching Psychology Unit. This was an amazing co-incidence and Joe spontaneously offered to set up an appointment with Professor Grant, the person who coined the term ‘evidence-based coaching’. This was particularly relevant as I was battling with a Stellenbosch assignment on that aspect of coaching! I was so very grateful to both of them for the inspiration Prof Grant provided.
Each trip to Australia, which took place roughly twice each year, I was delighted to meet with my 2014 Australian coaching pod at a lunch organised by Joe. Whenever we met, I was rewarded with new exciting opportunities offered to me. For example, my interest in Positive Psychology had been ignited and when the group mentioned a forthcoming Positive Psychology conference in Adelaide, South Australia, I was able to plan my next trip around attending that conference. Positive Psychology and my learnings from that conference helped a great deal with my research.
In May 2017, following Joe’s instigation, I presented a workshop highlighting my M Phil findings to 40 coaches in Sydney for the ICF Australasia chapter, ‘The role of coaching in developing character strengths in leaders’. That workshop led to the June 2018 workshop, ‘The Productive Coach’ also held in the city center in Sydney. The ripple effect spread and that is how it came about that I’m presenting the webinar version: ‘How to be a more productive coach’ on Thursday, September 20th 2018. This new unique work is adapted from my new learnings at the African Doctoral Academy where I attended ‘The Productive PhD’ presented by Prof Sebastian Kernbach in January this year. I have taken some of the techniques which he presented as being helpful to PhD’s, expanded on them and adapted to coaching. Introducing these new, unique techniques into my own Executive Coaching and Leadership Development work over the last 6 months has achieved rewarding outcomes in my own developmental process and helped to achieve positive shifts for my clients. In the forthcoming webinar I’ll be sharing 3 of those techniques.
That was a long story but shows the essence of my opening statement: ‘Through positive relationships others can spontaneously assist you in achieving goals you may not have dreamt of.’ I am very grateful, not only to Joe, but to the many people who have enriched my life in different ways. I do hope I have been able to be of benefit to them.
Network, build relationships, nurture and cherish the beautiful friendships arising. Meet people with an attitude of ‘what can I do for you?’ and you’ll reap bountiful rewards. I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotations:
“The people you meet should excite you, inspire you, make you grow. That’s why you should endeavour constantly to add to the number and variety of people you meet. Each one will polish a different facet of your mind and stimulate you in ways you may not anticipate.”
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen: Dare To Win
My questions for you are:
- Have you sincerely thanked those people who have recognised opportunities for you?
- If you look at the exciting things happening in your life right now, what is the ‘golden thread’ running through the networking you do?
- What gives you the courage to risk accepting new opportunities?
- How often do you provide opportunities for others that show that you believe in them?
- How might you have reciprocally impacted on the life of the person who helped you achieve your goals?
- How might your interaction in turn have created new opportunities, connections and inspirations for that person?
For more information on the coaching and leadership development services offered by Brenda Eckstein International please contact me, Brenda on +27 82 4993311 or firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you!
Clients often express the need to improve their conversation skills. While this falls more under the realm of the training and mentoring services which I offer, conversation also provides the framework for Executive Coaching.
As humans, conversation affects every aspect of our lives ranging from public dialogue between nations to good-night stories with our children. I even talk to my dogs! Here the tone of voice is as important as the content of our message. That applies when talking to humans, too. In addition, our presence, the way we present ourselves, is also important. How do we come across? - as ‘open’, non-judgmental and friendly? – or as unapproachable?
Effective conversation skills can be learned. And the more we practise, the more confident we become. Thus we more readily accept invitations. Being able to participate or engage enables us to build positive relationships. We get to know people. This opens more opportunities leading to trust. The more we trust people, the more likely we are to view them as ‘the person of choice’ when making decisions. In addition, when we are the ‘person of choice', there is more likelihood of an absence of malice. In other words, when things go wrong we are given the ‘benefit of the doubt’.
I have given more detail on conversation skills in my two books on networking, ‘Networking Tactics: a guide to achieving success through personal networking’ and ‘ABCs of Networking: Fifty-two ways to achieve success' . My invitation is for you also to refer to the following, just a few of the 200 articles under the blog section of my website:
- Use your voice at the boardroom table
- Family conversation starters
- Discover the person sitting next to you
So, as a coach or mentor, how do I help people to improve their conversation skills? Here I am covering just a few aspects.
The ‘listen, comment, question’ technique
The first step is to build new neural pathways through practising my ‘listen, comment, question' technique on an ongoing basis. This approach can be applied to a wide range of communication skills such as coaching, interviewing and also to informal conversations.
As you can see, there are three parts to this technique. We need to listen deeply to what the person is, or isn’t saying. I also put the word, ‘look’ here as often the first step is to comment on something visual. This could be the person’s namebadge, their business card or your perception that they appear familiar.
The next step is to comment on what the person has just said. That shows them that you have been listening and that you are interested.
Next you ask an open question. I am going to expand on this part of the ‘listen, comment, question’ technique. The art of asking powerful questions can also be learned. Open questions encourage the person to talk while you listen. So making non-judgmental comments and asking powerful questions go hand-in-hand.
Let’s look at how we develop those ‘powerful questions’ whether we are coaching, taking part in a board meeting or speaking to friends. Coaching can teach us certain techniques and here I’m going to show you a few of hundreds of possible examples (of questions) of how a few simple models, fully supported by philosophical frameworks can be used:
Habermas – I/we/it
- How is the issue affecting you?
- Who could support you?
- In the broader context of your industry, what will the benefits be of your finding a solution?
Wilber’s Integral Theory – four-quadrant model
- (I – inside me) How does this (what the person has just said) align with your value system?
- (I – outside me) What actions do you intend taking?
- (We – inside group) Who are the other role-players or stake-holders?
- (It – outside – environment) How does this impact on the system?
- What have you tried in the past?
- How are you dealing with the issue at present?
- What will the future look like if you resolve the issue?
- If your head were to write you a letter now, what would it say?
- What is your heart’s message?
- Looking at the possible tension between the two responses above:
o What impasse (lack of action) are you notising?
o Which actions would be favourable?
Above I have given just a few simple example of how really listening to what a person is saying (and what they are not saying), processing that information and fitting it into models, can help frame powerful questions which will lead to quality conversation.
But take care! You can’t just learn these questions parrot fashion and fire them at the person you are talking to. You need to really listen, comment on what they have just said (so they know you really are listening) and then ask a relevant question that will stimulate them to their share more information or insights with you. This will lead to greater understanding and enable you to the ‘the person of choice’. But you need to be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying.
So, practise, practise, practise – and you are welcome to come to me if you need more help. Thank you!
My questions for you are:
- Currently, under which circumstances is it important for you to ask the right questions?
- How can you gain confidence in ‘leaning in’ and actually asking those relevant questions?
- Think of a recent incident where your comment would have been valuable – where you missed an opportunity. In that situation what should you have said?
- How can you improve in this area in the future?
For further information on Executive Coaching, mentoring, training in communication skills or leadership development please contact me, Brenda on +27 82 4993311 or email@example.com Thank you!
I am passionate about helping people to build positive relationships. Thus the concept of personal networking is built into many aspects of the services offered by Brenda Eckstein International (BEI).
My first two published books on this topic, ‘Networking Tactics: A guide to achieving success through personal networking‘ (1st and 2nd editions) and ‘ABCs of Effective Networking: Fifty-two ways to achieve success‘ (1st edition) are in the process of being updated for the next editions which will join the ranks of my other books currently on Amazon. You might like to visit my Amazon author’s page.
Over the years, I have included the improvement of networking skills and building of effective networks in the courses I have developed and currently run. These include the Networking Tactics, Communication Skills, and Enhance Your Executive Skills. Elements also come into all the leadership development and executive coaching programmes in my portfolio.
Often a section of any course includes asking the participants to consider their individual one-year or three-year personal visions and then to identify the part that networking can play in helping them to achieve their individual visions. I then consolidate their lists of benefits and these often provide the framework for healthy group discussion around the topic.
Below is a list developed as part of a recent 12-module Communication Skills course run for groups of mechanical and industrial engineers and other engineers in metallurgy or analytical chemistry. Their input has been consolidated, refined and expanded.
The benefits of building positive relationships and actively engaging in networking include:
- Gaining new insights into your inner and external worlds.
- Enhancing every aspect of life.
- Interacting with others who may be experiencing issues similar to yours.
- Having access to like-minded people who can help alleviate loneliness.
- Gaining inspiration from others.
- Acquiring and using networking skills which gives you confidence to communicate.
- Using communication skills more and thus improving ability to hold meaningful conversations.
- Having the confidence to accept invitations.
- Meeting a broad range of diverse people and expanding your network.
- Being exposed to different cultures, backgrounds and phenomena.
- Gaining greater understanding thus leading to new perspectives of justice or fairness.
- Building a feeling of connectedness, relatedness or safety with individuals.
- Understanding others better and thus knowing their wants and their needs.
- Recognising opportunities to reach out to people whom you may normally not communicate with.
- Accessing influential people and other individuals whom you may otherwise not meet.
- Being offered introductions to interest groups and incentives to join.
- Developing a sense of belonging to formal and informal groups.
- Building reputation and visibility thus enhancing our status.
- Having a safety-net for testing ideas.
- Being able to elicit trusted feedback from customers or others.
- Developing a broader pool of ideas for sustaining the ‘status quo’ or innovating.
- Helping to develop and set priorities.
- Effecting change in personal or business lives.
- Expanding knowledge applicable in your current position and exposure to opportunities for the future. Growth opportunities.
- Gaining different perspectives on solving problems.
- Boosting confidence in being able to accept challenges and achieve current or new goals.
- Recognising possibilities to expand beyond the current boundaries, either locally or globally.
- Increasing autonomy or control over events.
- Generating a greater sense of certainty because you are up-to-date.
- Saving time – knowing who to go to access information or to get the job done effectively.
- Becoming more productive.
In addition to exploring the benefits above, you may wish to visit pages 50 to 53 of Networking Tactics where the benefits of networking are grouped under the Fun, Leadership, Continuous Improvement and Growth categories. In addition the following articles are relevant:
- Update on the benefits of networking
- Personal networking: a different perspective
- Networking benefits updated
- The benefits of personal networking
My invitation is for you as a reader to consider the following:
- In which ways can you break your goal down into manageable chunks?
- What are the tactics you can put into place in order to help you achieve the goals?
- How can personal networking help you to achieve your goals?
- Which of the 31 benefits above could help you?
- In addition to the benefits listed above, what other benefits are there that may help you to achieve your goals?
- Who can assist you with improving your networking skills?
- What can you do to help others achieve their goals?