Coaching on Communication Skills Six steps to creating an “Ideal Communicator Statement” If a client states that they want to be a more effective communicator, start by finding out how they will know that they’ve achieved their goal. Use these six steps: 1. (Set the stage): What does being an effective communicator sound and look like to you?
2. (Fill in the details): What are the attributes, characteristics, skills, and talents of someone who communicates effectively according to your definition? (e.g. confidence, clarity, vividness, grasp of language, energy, active listening, passion, charisma, melodic, understanding your audience, tone of voice) 3. (Prioritize): Of the attributes, characteristics, skills and talents of effective communicators that you just listed, what do you believe are the 5 that will make the biggest difference in your becoming the type of communicator you want to be? Put them in order from 1 to 5; 1 being the most important. 4. (Get specific and clear): For each selected trait, please define what you mean and how this impacts the effectiveness of communication. a. e.g. Trait #1 – Great active listener – someone who is actively engaged in the conversation, is hearing what is and is not being said, acknowledges what they are hearing and understanding, knows agenda is to understand what’s being said before replying with their own insights/agenda, seeks clarity until communicator says something like “yeah, that’s it.”
This trait impacts the effectiveness of communication because it demonstrates active listening is as important as sending the messages. Keeps attention on understand what’s being communicated, instead of thinking of your response. If communicator is a listener as well, the communicator more quickly picks up on what is and is not being understood and can adjust. 5. (Assess): For each selected trait, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = completely ineffective; 10 = optimal effectiveness) how would you rate yourself in terms of current effectiveness? 6. (Summarize Ideal): Have your client write a summary statement that describes her/himself as the ideal, effective communicator that they want to be. Additional questions you can ask at this stage: • How do you want your energy around communication to be different as a result of coaching? (CLARIFYING/PLANTING SEED) • What is important to you about becoming a more effective communicator? (BUY IN) • What will be different from you as a result? (BUY-IN) • What situations lead you to hold back in communicating? Or push your buttons and have you react instead of respond to the situation? (AWARENESS) • In reviewing your ideal communicator statement, when you’re at your ideal, how differently might other people react or respond to you? What do you notice that is different in the way they respond to you? (PLANT SEED /TRIGGER) • When you’re not seeing these differences, what does that tell you? o (TRIGGER; what’s a trigger? Creating a point of awareness that wakes them up in the moment, stopping their old way of doing things so they can choose to push on with their new approaches/plans)
• In respect to the ideal image, what changes might be required in your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, behaviors, reactions, messages, etc.? What changes are you likely to see/notice in time? (PLANT SEED) Sample Coaching Questions when coaching on the Elements of Communication: 1) Self-Awareness 2) Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication 3) Context/Medium Used 4) Listening Element #1 – Self-Awareness: Sample Coaching Questions • What do you say to yourself most often when you are faced with a stressful or challenging situation? • What can you do to “turn off” any catabolic conversations with yourself? • If your internal conversations were TV shows, what kind would they be? Who has the starring role in each? What would be the final episode? • Who is writing the scripts for your internal dialogues? How is that writer serving you? Holding you back? How can you direct the writer to rewrite scripts that are not working for you? • Write out / Journal any recurring internal dialogues and identify how it’s holding you back. Determine how you would like to change/eliminate/replace the dialogue to increase your energy. Element #2 – Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication: Sample Coaching Questions Non-Verbal: Visual (Body Language), Vocal (Tone of Voice) • Review each aspect of body language and non-verbal communication and rate the energetic impact of each. What changes would you like to make to how you communicate with
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body language and nonverbal communication? What does the tone of your voice project about your energy level? Solicit feedback on your tone of voice over a variety of communication modes. Ask what type of impact it has on the audience. What changes would you like to make to shift/modify the energetic impact on your audiences? Solicit feedback on your non-verbal communication and listen for the energetic impact on the audience. Which pieces of feedback are most meaningful to you? How do you want to modify your delivery as a result of your feedback and your own reflection? How might your tone and body language change based upon the audience, message, and setting of your communication?
Verbal (Language, words used) • What are the most common phrases and words that you use? • Journal your words through a week, and come back and assess them for how energetic they are, the impact they have (on you and others), etc. • What words in your vocabulary are catabolic? Anabolic? (Note: this can be given as a pre-assignment) What is the energetic impact on you and those around you? • What words in your organization’s culture are catabolic? • Anabolic? (Note: this can be given as a pre-assignment) What is the energetic impact on you, those in the organization, and those around you, or those in your community? • What new language is available to you at your desired energy level? • How will you incorporate that into your daily dialogue? • What steps can you take to integrate more anabolic language into your vocabulary? • How can you change your organization’s language?
Element #3 – Context/Medium used • No specific questions. This is just about helping your client to be sensitive to the medium used in a given communication scenario. (i.e., are they communicating live, by email, on the phone, in group vs. one-on-one)
Element #4 – Listening: Sample Coaching Questions and Strategies
Strategies o Educate them about the common obstacles to listening. 1. “Red Flag” words that shut the listener down. 2. Is the speaker (your client) someone whom the listener already has trouble listening to effectively because the speaker distracts, intimidates, triggers or stimulates the listener in some way? 3. Environmental factors (room temp, noise, lighting). o The physical or emotional state of the listener (exhaustion, illness, worry, excitement, stress, preoccupation). o Using the list of common obstacles, help your client identify their obstacles to effective listening and create action plans to eliminate these obstacles. (e.g., Make a list of “red flag” words and strategies to address what these words do to your client’s ability to listen). o Brainstorm with clients on how they can practice Level 3 listening with specific individuals, in specific situations, and at work, and in life in general. Role play with your client. Questions o What are some techniques you can put into practice that will help you remain focused on what is being said and prevent your mind from wandering and using its excess capacity?
o What is your ideal image as a Level 3 Listener? o What steps can you take in the upcoming week to become a Level 3 Listener? o In addition to listening to the spoken words, how can you listen to what is not being said? (Reading the rest of the non- verbal communication.) o How can the skills of acknowledging and validating increase the energy of the person who is speaking? The energy of the interaction? What is the benefit to you as the listener? What are some ways you can begin to use these skills?
• Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott • Don’t be Nice, be Real by Kelly Bryson (trained by Marshall Rosenberg, who created the Center for Non Violent Communication; Marshall Rosenberg has also written several books on the subject for nonviolent communication which are well read) • Conscious Business by Fred Kofman (has a great few chapters on communication and coordination) • Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni – while addressed around the fears professionals have around losing clients, it shows how integral communication is as part of building open/trusting relationships. This won’t show you how to communicate per se, but will reveal much about the blocks that prevent you from communicating effectively and openly.