Last week I broke my tooth and had to go to a different dental practice than usual. As a result of my experience there, I decided to begin a series of posts about how to be a great communicator. Are you wondering why?
Well before I get to that I just want to briefly revisit a concept I have talked about in a previous post because it is a good place to begin the series: that is, each of us can only see the world as we are, not as it is. Each of us creates our own reality from the information we receive through what we see, what we hear, what we smell, what we feel, even what we taste and what we tell ourselves about all of this. In other words, what we believe and what we make it all mean. And this view of the world is unique to each of us – and often we make an assumption that everyone else sees the world the same way that we do!
Our own map of the world though, may have points of similarities to others, especially family members and friends, but there will also be people whose map is completely different. Even with people we know well we can’t presume that we are making the same meaning out of something that they are, unless we check.
Tip number 1: checking for meaning is a really good way to begin understand someone else’s map of the world. Be curious and ask questions and give some information about your map of the world too. See the blog post below for more information on this concept and tips for checking for meaning.
Back to the dentist. As I sat there receiving emergency root canal therapy for a verrry long time the dentist said to the nurse – ‘there’s an awful lot of blood here’. Now initially I made that mean that my tooth was gushing, I was never going to have the hole in my tooth closed and an ambulance was on its way with emergency blood transfusion. However, as an alternative to panicking, I decided to put myself in her position and luckily (or not!) I have had a lot of root canal therapy in the past so I know that the presence of blood indicates infection. I decided that all she meant was the infection was quite bad and I would need antibiotics – felt MUCH calmer.
Now it may have been quite hard for the Dentist to find out my map around dental treatment Dentists are time poor and not a lot of chatting goes on there. So how could she have improved her communication and as a result, my experience?
Tip number 2: Putting yourself in the position of someone else and thinking the way they might think is a really good way to get a sense of what someone’s map of the world might be in a specific situation. If the Dentist had literally sat in that chair and thought about the language she uses and how that might be perceived by her patients I have no doubt it would improve her communication and her patient’s experience.
How can you use these two strategies to improve your communication?
Strengths Finder Assessment and Feedback
Doing Strengths Finder coaching has enabled me to see how I can make the most of my natural abilities. The test itself outlined 5 particular strengths but it was the coaching that meant I now know how to actually utilise this information. It is going to help me a great deal when it comes to my academic life and in particular how I can study in the most effective way. The coaching helps access the key to knowing your strengths and Deb has helped me devise a plan of how I can move forward with these skills. Her work with me has been vital to the Strengths Finder process and I would absolutely recommend the coaching as vital to finding your strengths.
Family Harmony Workshop for Parents
The course gave a great framework to build a more harmonious family - I find it difficult to explain to my teens why I don't like their behaviour but with this toolkit I am able to articulate this easily and less emotionally, resulting in better communication and a less charged atmosphere. Thanks Deb for the lifeline
Team Building Facilitation and Coaching
As a new Manager to a newly formed team of eight staff, I engaged Deb to facilitate our first team planning day. The objective of the day was to identify a shared vision and to start a process of strategic planning for the next three years. The day was a great success and set the team up with greater clarity of purpose and a framework for future planning.
Deb demonstrated a great understanding of the team, its context and challenges. This was due to her careful and thorough planning and reflections prior to the day. Deb managed the varying levels of engagement among the team exceptionally well; she did this with the establishment of clear ground rules and a sense of trust and respect. Deb listened actively and regularly questioned for greater clarity before reflecting on the team’s contributions.
We ended the day with a clear vision that was shared and in which all members felt they had an investment. Deb followed up regularly after the session to check in on progress and to provide advice about next steps. We were extremely lucky to have been able to work with Deb at this important stage of the team’s development and I would not hesitate for a moment in engaging Deb again.
Angela Hehir, (Manager)
Business Leadership Coaching
Debra's help in getting me to focus on the strategic direction of my business and my work-life priorities has proven invaluable. She has the ability to ask simple questions to create greater clarity and focus in both work and personal goals. Debra is a great listener, follows up on her clients and creates a great support base for her clients through recommending network groups, courses and reading material. For those who want a leadership coach that goes that extra mile,
I highly recommend her.
Yvette Audet, Sport & Recreation Management Services
360 degree feedback and Mentoring
Debra provided feedback on my 360 leader/manger profile. I have taken this style of development tool on two prior occasions and found the feedback underwhelming. This time I found that Debra has an empathetic and approachable feedback style. Previously I have felt very much that I was being placed in a stereotypical box.
I liked Debra,s approach and understood more that the outcomes of the survey reflect a favored management leadership style and this could be flexible. Debra is able to draw out your thoughts on how you feel others perceive you rather than preaching which was a great attribute.
We talked about the outcomes and the way forward and I was left with a comfortable feeling that I could achieve my higher aims. Debra provided positive feedback and kept in contact after the initial interview. Her trouble in organizing some key topic papers and net links was commendable. I hope very much to take Debra up on some future mentoring and would highly recommend Debra’s leadership skill set to you.
Professor Tim Lyons, Newcastle
Concrete personal career goals
I have appreciated my coaching sessions this year more than I can say. Deb has challenged me at every turn which I have loved, making me work hard to find my own solutions during an extremely professionally challenging year. This has been extremely satisfying.
I also now have concrete personal career goals and a plan on how to get there – non existent when I started coaching and really not something I consciously thought I needed. As a consequence I feel more focused and motivated for the next year and beyond.
Finally I would have to say my coaching session with Deb have been an absolute lifeline for me this year, keeping me on track, helping me to grow and learn and ultimately make a monumental shift in my approach and style as a leader. I am very grateful for her time, patience, humor and professionalism – I am certainly am better leader thanks to coaching with Deb.
Bernadette Hollis, Sydney