As Performance in English heads north to Yorkshire and to facilities being hired at the impressive Hawkhills conference centre, and close to the beautiful historic cities of York, Ripon, and the world-famous Spa town of Harrogate, our thoughts turn to food and the great culinary traditions – so little appreciated outside these small islands – of England.
Oldstead, beating Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Buckinghamshire and Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir near Oxford.
In fact, England currently has the top two restaurants worldwide; while Maison Lameloise, in Chagny, France, came in third, and L’Auberge de l’Ill, Illhaeusern, France was voted fourth and Martin Berasategui, Lasarte, Spain, fifth.
The beautiful county of North Yorkshire has an amazing array of attractions and natural beauty, and – as a coaching client with us at The Hawkhills – you can also enjoy shopping in York or Harrogate, visits to places of tremendous interest, and the benefit of all sorts of entertainment.
…to world-class coaching…
Don’t tell me what to do! – help me find it.
We sometimes feel we know what the other person means to say, or is trying to get across, and so advise them consciously or unconsciously towards solutions that we think work for us, and therefore would like to work for them. When we don’t understand, our first question is “why?” – but does this really help?
The author and coach, Nancy Kline, provides a good list of what not to do, when another person is speaking, which is quite useful in helping us eliminate bad habits. These include:
- Don’t finish the other people’s sentences.
- Don’t interrupt them in mid-sentence.
- Don’t look overly critical.
- Don’t fill in the pauses with your own stories and anecdotes.
- Don’t add information and ‘rules to follow’ during these listening phases.
- Don’t distract them by – perhaps unintentionally – looking at the clock, sighing, etc..
These seem like good general rules, but bad habits die hard! When helping someone to reach their goals, our own goal of “good helper” might take priority. Putting it more positively:
- Allow people to finish off their ideas
- Let them get to the end of their sentence
- Show interest in what they are bringing up
- During pauses, pay attention to the thinking process that you are observing
- While listening, develop rapport and collect important information
- Encourage speech and think of deep questions.
If we want to really know what the best solution is, and to help someone reach it, the more time spent knowing what they feel and how they see the world, the better. One does not climb a mountain without a map of the terrain. What if there is a smoother path, a quicker one, or a more picturesque one? How do I know what you prefer if I don’t take the trouble to ask? And how do I know what you are willing to change, unless you tell me?
I work regularly with managers and leaders who need to overcome difficulties of miscommunication – frequent where English is the lingua franca for business and negotiating. Finding ground for exploration working up from stable common perceptions is a very important skill, and one that, in the emotional heat of the moment, can be lost.
For this reason it is important to choose questions carefully and – often – to avoid the question “why?” until we have collected a lot more information first.
Where are we?
Where do we want to go?
How long do we have?
How long have we already spent?
Who are the best people to have involved?
What common ground do we have?
What makes the other person say what they do?
What are they not saying?
What is their aim?
What do they want to avoid?
What are they willing to consider changing?
What will they never change?
How can we proceed?
Being able to step back in one’s mind and having the firmly-anchored physical resources for doing so, are equally important (and very distinct). What may seem like a mountain to climb may be anything but.
“You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?”
Introducing “embodied language skills“
As far back as we can trace, notions of proper conduct have been shaped by individuals, rather than by committees. Their starting point has been behaviour – often at mealtimes or during the public “stroll” – which has been seen as a reliable indication of how people are likely to behave elsewhere and of their character.
In a culture where civility, integrity and respect are given high status, the words that we use and the way we behave cannot be separated.
When we speak, we also act. There is an inescapable link between our choice of words and their specific intent.
If it is cold in the room, we could say “It’s cold in here, can someone close the window please?”; or we could say; “Who left the window open?”; “Does anybody mind if I close the window?” even “It’s a bit chilly isn’t it, does anyone feel the same as me?” or “Why don’t you close that window for me?”
Whether we like it or not, how we are viewed by others is a combination of how we choose to dress, groom ourselves, eat, stand, walk, and move, and how we speak.
Some say “Manners maketh Man”.
In learning a language, well, and making strong positive impressions on others, this is not simply a matter of learning certain cultural “rules” or “customs” – thought these are certainly useful to know – but in identifying how we wish to fit into a situation and what our own values and sense of identity are.
The “embodied” skills that surround leadership and other powerful roles, come with a range of language registers and techniques.
We provide Personal Action Plans to bring to bear the latest tried and tested ideas of Neuroplasiticity, Integration training, Somatic coaching, Leonard Energy Training and the very important U-Theory, incorporating ‘the Blind spot of leadership’ and ‘Leading from the emerging future’.
“You never listen!”
How often a frustrated teenager might say that, and, in business too, how often people might be thinking this, but they do not say it – and barriers are building up, unseen?
A child might have listened a hundred times to the being told he/she should clean their teeth every night. But do they do it?
As the saying goes, it takes patience to listen but it takes real skill to pretend that you are. And while this is not something we recommend at all, many people are good at pretending! All the outward signals are there to convince the other person ……
In today’s busy world, where time is always pressurised, arguably there is a lack of true care for others in society. We “listen”, but is there any inner processing going on?
Plus, what works with talking to children doesn’t not necessarily work the same way when dealing with business associates etc.. If we are not listening, what alternative does that give to our colleagues?
Good listening matters at every level.
Everyone likes to think they know best, so, listening to what another person needs to say, attentively, is not just a real skill, it is also potentially a means for powerful change. How do we do it, when our own heads are so full of stuff we are desperate to get done, and get said?
It is important to remember that not everyone wants to be the one “up there” doing the spotlight work and receiving the credits. There is equal importance in what we do to help people achieve their own personal goals, wherever they work.
That goal might be to speak and understand English fluently and effectively, whether they are the Managing Director, in the back office, or at the front of house in a retail role. Having the right skills to really hear what is being said, can change the way an entire organisation works.
Actually, when there is good listening, all sides listen and benefit.
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Peter & Julia
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The Old Smithy
t: +44 (0)7708364021