I attended a meeting the other day with a group of managers. What amused me was that after the first few minutes, every other person in the room appeared to have sealed up their ears and was on a mission to transmit their message LOUD AND CLEAR. Receive mode seemed to have malfunctioned.
At the end of the meeting (and I’m sure you’ve attended them too) everyone left, satisfied that they had ‘said their piece’. The fact that no-one had heard it in all the cacophony was, in their mind, irrelevant. The ‘meeting’ never really happened.
I have been lucky enough to meet Nancy Kline, US author of “Time to Think” and spend a couple of days learning her particular approach to coaching. Her message is elegantly simple: listen and let the other person think out loud. You don’t need to teach, preach, convince, persuade, direct, tell, order, enthuse, collude, judge, provoke, or otherwise get in the way. People need to be accepted, heard (really, really heard) and given some space to think out loud. It happens so rarely that it is a frankly joyful experience: you can almost see someone’s mind at work.
Organisations need some convincing that such an approach (low as it is on razzle-dazzle, jargon and fireworks) can be effective in building great teams or improving communication or reducing conflict, but the results are usually amazing if commitment is high and egos can be suppressed sufficiently to give it a go.
Try it for yourself. Go quiet inside and get out of the way of someone’s else’s thinking. It’s a great gift (for you and the recipient).