When you are holding a coaching-style conversation with members of your team, there will be certain phrases you hear, or particular elements of body language that you see which may be more significant than others. These are potentially critical times in such conversations. It is therefore important that you can notice them effectively.
Words and phrases
Recently, when running a coaching development programme for a great group of senior leaders from the finance sector, a delegate talked about hearing certain words or phrases from his coachee (the person being coached) and how he would ‘tag’ these in his mind. He said doing this helped him recall those key moments of heard language that may be significant. I loved that image and think it can be a helpful tip for you too.
Sometimes leaders and managers forget to listen to the ‘human’ that is talking to them because they get so focused on the problem or task. For example, when someone uses the words “very busy”, “run off my feet” “chasing my tail” and “stack of stuff in my in-tray” but you continue to press them on committing to dates for the job to be delivered, you’ve failed to ‘tag’ the right words from their communication.
It’s true their phrases may just be a manner of speech, but if you fail to ask the question about it, you are either:
- you missed it
- or worse still, you noticed it but you didn’t want to explore it for fear of what you might find.
When you are coaching it can be quite a challenge to listen intently to the language and simultaneously observe the physical elements. I would suggest you never make a straight line connection between seeing something e.g. a tapping foot and interpreting that as meaning the person in front of you is anxious.
However, there may be such things you notice that you ‘tag’ to come back to if it seems important, when you have formed a fuller picture of whether it might be relevant or not. When you decide to use it into your coaching conversations, do so in a way that is seeking to understand its relevance with a question that might, for example, start, “I’ve noticed when you talk about your Boss, you tap your foot. What is the significance, if anything, of that?”
Good luck and keep ‘tagging’ !
Glenn Wallis is an experienced Executive Coach and Coach Developer who will help you improve your own results and those of your organisation. When you are ready to raise your performance to the next level, find out more here