Thursday, 25 April 2013

Attention please...

A few posts ago I introduced the idea of a thinking environment from the work of Nancy Kline, so I thought it was about time I go into a bit more depth on them.  Nancy talks about 10 components of a thinking environment, and first up....


Do you listen with palpable respect? 
Paying attention may seem easy - you just make sure you have eye contact, look interested and respond when you need to surely?  Well that'll get you so far, but now it's time to take it one step further.  The challenge - giving someone attention without interruption. 

Interruption will come in different forms - as the listener you might get overrun by different thoughts in your head that distract from the talker, or you might literally interrupt when they're talking.  Either way, when those occur it's going to have a negative impact on the other person even if you genuinely think you're helping or it's a way to show you're listening. 

If someone thinks they are going to be interrupted they will conduct themselves differently - they might be more cautious, only talk about certain parts of their thinking - and it's likely to be the parts that will provoke the best discussion later on that they won't share because they don't want to get into there and then.  There's some research that even suggests when someone gets interrupted their IQ drops! 

So how can you help?  Well consider these questions before you start 'listen' to someone else:
- is my mind going to be on the conversation?
- what instincts do I need to control?
- how comfortable am to not interrupt? (and therefore how can I increase my comfort?)
- what's the best thing that could happen if I input after the other person has finished talking?
- what's the worst thing that could happen if I input after the other person has finished talking?

You will be able to watch someone else's thinking transform if you give them unadulterated attention...I promise!

Happy listening x

Monday, 22 April 2013

Let's face the music...

...and face into honest conversations.

I'm a big believer in having honest conversations.  Without them, we run the risk of wandering through life frustrated with others or (possibly even worse) not having a true picture of how we're performing or behaving.

It's not always easy though - they can be uncomfortable, take unpredictable turns and get emotional.  We can't plan for every eventuality, but we can plan to have them and fend off any feelings of shying away from these 'eek' moments.  To help you along your way here are some reasons (disguised as questions of course!) to consider the next time you put off a looming honest conversation...

Are you hand holding?
- how much time are you spending doing something that isn't your responsibility? If you're picking up extra 'stuff' because someone else isn't performing and you don't want to talk to them about it, you're going to reach a breaking point.
- home or work, hand holding is allowed when someone is new to something - but NOT if they're not performing and you're bridging gaps on their behalf.

Is the best person doing the job?
- have you got someone doing something because they were right place right time?  Are they genuinely the best person to be doing that job?  If they're not, then at best there will be missed opportunities but at worst that person will be heading down a route of note performing which is never a nice experience for anybody concerned.
- You can head off the corrective performance management conversations by facing into this issue up front - tackle the problem at the source with this one and don't settle for anything less than the best person.
- Those that are in the wrong jobs will ultimately block the right people getting to them - think long term and the impact that could have.

What will the impact be on the person?
- picture the scene - you've had a planned and considered honest conversation with someone that was balanced and focused on how to get the best out of that person.  How do they feel? What do they do afterwards?
- with great conversations comes engagement and energy to move forward.  If someone isn't happy they're probably going to be feeling down and have a level of awareness about their performance not being where it needs to be.  Talking to them about it in a productive way will help them feel better and wanting to push forward.

So, 3 reasons / questions to consider when you're sitting thinking about your next honest conversation!  There are oodles of reasons that people have come up with over time but these are my 3 favourite and the ones that I always think about carefully before hand.

Enjoy x

Friday, 19 April 2013

Me, myself and I...

If someone was to ask you if you are self-aware what would you say?

Well for starters, if it was me, in the true spirit of being the questioning lady I'd challenge the question (!) to be more specific than that because we're complex human beings who change state regularly, so my self awareness fluctuates - I lose it when I get emotional or angry, but I'm more attune to it when I'm feeling reflective or going about my day in a step by step way.

I read a book a little while ago that was all about emotional intelligence, which is something that fascinates and scares me for the same reason - the awesome power it can have over individuals, both for themselves (intrapersonal) and those around them (interpersonal).

So how do we become more self-aware?  Even if we think we are, it's good to check in sometimes.  Here come the questions that will help you on your journey of self discovery...
- what are your goals in life?
- what are your beliefs?
- what do you value the most?
- what drives you to succeed?
- what rules do you live by?

Answer them for yourself and then ask some people around you to answer them for you too.  Do your answers match up? 

Now before you start explaining mis-matched answers away because you think someone doesn't know you...STOP!! You should only ask someone who knows you really well - you're not seeking perception feedback, you're testing your own self awareness. 

Differing answers can really help increase your self awareness.  When my (now) husband and I were building up to our wedding day we had to go to the famed marriage classes.  One of the questions was about your biggest fears in life and you had to talk about them - I'll be honest, I struggled to articulate it until Mr Speak swooped in with what his thought of my biggest fear was...and he was spot on.  He knew the answer because he understands my goals, beliefs and values and I momentarily forgot!  In that moment my self awareness dropped a few points but someone was there to help me - you're not in this alone.

Happy discovering xx

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Change: revisited

Oops, I've made an error! I'm yet to revisit the subject of change and some tips as I promised a couple of posts ago - so here it is...

- what are the controllables?
No matter what you're experiencing there will be some things you will be able to control.  Work out what they are, and get your hands round them pronto! You might have to dig deep you might need someone to help you work out what they are, but I guarantee they exist.

- what's your coping mechanism?
It might be going for a walk, talking to a sounding board, shopping, eating, sleeping...really the possibilities are endless because of how unique we all are.  Whatever helps you get through tough times find it and use it, but be aware that it could change and acknowledge when you mite need something else to help you cope.

- what do you need to let go of?
It might be a way of operating, it might be a process, it might even be a relationship - whatever it is its time to identify it, let go and move on.  It'll help you move through the 'denial' stage of change and help you look to the future. There are lots of ways to get through the letting go - visualisation of what you want to move to, writing it down on paper and literally destroying it, talking it through with someone - find your way that helps you move on.

- enjoy the here and now
We spend a lot of time living in the future (and is probably encouraged in lots of jobs) and I think we forget how it feels to live for today.  It can be great to be planned and prepared, but we then spend a lot of time living with the unknown and not making the most of what have on offer right now in front of us.  Worrying about what may or may not happen will zap today of your energy.  Think about what you're grateful for at the end of each day to help you focus on this mindset.

It's really not so scary!

Happy changing xx

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Are you being genuinely inquistive?

I started this blog to ask, help you ask, and try to find answers to questions.  In hindsight, I probably should have started with this entry!

I was talking to a friend this weekend who was talking about a time when he was away with work recently and found himself being asked a heap of questions by a little boy of about 6 who was on holiday with his parents.  The questions (of which there were about 15!) ranged from 'are you stopping at the hotel' to 'what are you having for tea', and as he was recounting the story to me something sparked in me...when was the last time we were all genuinely inquisitive?  No hidden agenda, just innocent fact finding questions when you're genuinely interested in what the person opposite you has to say.

I know I'm guilty of thinking I'm being inquisitive with no agenda, but I generally (and most of the time need to) ask questions to find answers that will impact me in some way at some point.  For me it's mainly circumstance of my line of work, but let's face it we're not in work 24/7 (and if you are we need to talk about your work/life balance!) so now is the time to make a change and embrace your innocent curiosity!  You're essentially going to be making other people feel good about themselves because it's as simple as showing an interest in someone as a person, not what they can do for you now or in the future.  In turn, I promise you'll feel equally as good about yourself - positivity and niceness radiate!!

So, here's the challenge....find 1 question to ask someone everyday for the next week that is nothing to do with work or directly impacting you.  Yes, ok, slightly contrived at the moment but it won't always be - as I've said before it's about forming new habits and I'll have you in the swing of it before you know it. 

In a weeks time, ask yourself this question:
- how is being genuinely curious about people making me feel?

Set your reminders now...I hope you get a nice answer!

Happy questioning xx