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Power Listening by Dr. Connie

Listening is not as simple as it seems.  As a coach, I get paid to listen to people-and I mean really listen.  I get paid to listen because people value powerful listening.  By listening to my clients, I can help them discover their true intentions, achieve their goals and reach new heights in the personal and professional lives.   Powerful listening creates tremendous value. 

How many times have you suggested a new idea only to have people shoot it down…then someone else makes the same suggestion a few minutes, days, months later and people think it is great?   This is a very common occurrence. 
Some people do take the ideas of others and claim them as their own; however, one of the main causes of “idea stealing” is the fact that people don’t really listen to each other.  They may slightly be paying attention and hear bits and pieces of your idea (so they think it was their idea later) but they were really focused on something else.  Maybe it was their own thoughts on the subject at hand, their child’s basketball game, the time or even what they wanted to have for lunch.  People have a lot going on in their brains and rarely take time to focus on the moment. 
Great leaders are great listeners.  They focus on both what is being said and what is not being said-they can read in between the lines and spot a great idea.  Further, they are supportive of great ideas and realize the power in giving credit where credit is due.   Powerful listening instills self-confidence and self-esteem in others and makes them feel valued. 
As a leader, you can develop your power listening skills by:
1)     Hear what is being said:  Make sure you can physically hear the person speaking, especially if there is background noise or if you are using technology.
2)     Paraphrasing:  Summarize the information being shared with you and repeat it back to the individual who said it.  They have a chance to hear your interpretation of the message.  You can work together and make sure you are both on the same page.
3)     Asking Questions:  Clarify and gather more information by asking people questions.  Open-ended questions are extremely powerful.  Begin your questions with “what” and “how.”  Avoid using “why.”   Using the word “why” implies judgment and puts people in defense mode.  Good listeners are non-judgmental.  They are not judging the person.  They are listening and working hard to understand both what is being said and what is not being said. 
4)     Use Intuition: Leaders should use their “gut instincts” or intuition to sense what is not being said.  Great leaders have powerful intuitive skills.  Use your intuition and strengthen your power listening!
5)     Watch Body Language:  This is important for both the listener and the speaker.  When you are listening to another individual, don’t check your e-mail or watch.  Don’t answer your phone or do other things that distract from the conversation.  Focus on the other person.  Make eye contact (without staring them down!) and make them feel valuable.  Time is the most valuable resource we all have, so make conversation time count!
6)     Pause:  Give people additional space after you think they are done speaking. If you wait a few seconds before speaking, people usually provide you with additional thoughts and information because they have had some time to think and expand on their ideas.  This also prevents you from interrupting while helping people realize that you are truly listening and not waiting for them to finish so you can interject your thoughts.
7)     The 80/20 Rule:  According to the International Coach Academy (2002), great coaches listen 80% of the time and talk or ask questions 20% of the time.  This applies to leaders as well.  If you want to become a powerful listener, make sure you are in a position of active listening the majority of the time.  You will increase your understanding, make others feel valued and learn more than you ever imagined! 
“The primary purpose of listening…is to truly understand the other person’s point of view, how they think and feel and how they ‘move through the world.’ ”
                                                      (Zeus & Skiffington, 2000)


International Coach Academy. (2002).  Module 131:  Powerful Listening. 
Zeus, P. & Skiffington, S.  (2000).  The Complete Guide to Coaching at Work.  McGraw-Hill

Creating Awareness

Creating awareness is one of the most important things coaches can do for their clients; however, clients have to be in a place where they want to be aware.  They must be open to personal change and innovation.  In my work, I define this as developing a client’s Inner Leader.
What in the world does this mean?  Clients must be in a place where they want to create sustainable change in their lives.  This is a challenge for most of us.  Have you ever tried to break a bad habit or take on new habits that are good for you?  How well did trying work? 
One of the most valuable lessons I learned from one of my peer coaches at International Coach Academy (ICA) is that we must quit trying and actually get into a place of action.  When we are ready for action, coaches can help us create clarity around what we truly want to achieve and help us develop structures to accomplish our goals. 
A first step towards creating awareness is realizing what is working in our lives and what is not.  We have to be very honest during this process, which is quite an emotional journey.  I have coached individuals through the awareness process.  Most of the time, deep introspection leads to deep emotion.  Emotions range from excitement and joy to sadness and fear.  The process should be emotional.  If it is not, a new journey of self-awareness is not occurring. 
While developing my coaching awareness and coaching skills through ICA, I made a number of connections between my research and coaching abilities.  For example, the first of my 10 Pillars of Entrepreneurial Leadership and Innovation is Know Thyself (self-awareness).  Great leaders tend to be very self-aware.  They know themselves well and are honest about their strengths, weaknesses and life goals.  A high sense of self-awareness helps leaders focus with passion and confidence. 
As a coach, I can heighten the awareness of my clients with a variety of coaching techniques and tools.  Techniques and tools include visualizations, meditations, and powerful questions.  Perhaps one or the most powerful techniques is help clients let go of the things in their life that are no longer working for them.  It is essential for clients to have self-forgiveness along their self-awareness journey.  Letting go helps us make room for the future we truly want create and experience.  Letting go helps us move towards the future.
It is a wonderful process of self-discovery and personal innovation designed to set the stage for new experiences and a more fulfilling life!
Lead Your Live with Passion!
-Dr. Connie

My Latest Adventure: The International Coach Academy (ICA)

In an effort to strengthen my leadership and innovation coaching services, I registered for the Certified Professional Coach Program (CPCP) through the International Coach Academy (ICA).  I have already participated in two telecourses, and I really enjoyed them.  I selected this program for the following reasons:

1.  Flexibility:  I can take classes whenever and wherever…super cool educational model!

2.  Customization:  I get to customize my program with the content I want to use with my clients (and already use in my firm).  I am already a coach, so this is a huge advantage!

3.  International Audience:  ICA has students enrolled from around the world.  I totally enjoy learning from people from around the world.  What a rich experience this is going to be!!

My goal is to finish the program in about 1 year…..follow and join me on my journey!

Dr. Connie