3D Ideas 814: Tone?

Claire writes: “Some of the greatest questions I have heard are one or two words (which came directly from the thinker) asked with a question mark lilt. Sadly they are unusable in any other conversation. And yet they transform everything. Tone matters!

It’s also useful to remember that when someone has an insight, us changing our tone (or pace) a little can also help own that transformation. When we continue to match their tone, they might underplay the moment.”

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3D Ideas 813: Inverse Proportion

Claire writes: Brene Brown leads the way in using grounded research theory in academic learning. It’s great to see how systematic experiential insights can be given value. We learn so much by noticing patterns (and who knows – one day one of us might turn that into a piece of formalised research).

One of the things we notice is that the more words people use in questions, the shorter are the answers. And the more we say, the more likely the person we are talking to is to answer in detail – even if it’s not useful to them. It’s the law of inverse proportion. Less is more.

[Less is more is one of our underpinning philosophies of coaching]

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3D Ideas 812: Enough?

Claire writes: ‘Some of the people who are developing with us were practicing coaching this morning. Stuart began his conversation by saying: ‘I’m looking forward to being useful to you’. Great words, in the light of some of the blogs we have written recently. I’m reading Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor at the moment. She talks about the value of conversations that are supportive and challenging and describes them as ‘radical candor’. Her take on conversations which are supportive and not challenging enough is to describe them as ‘ruinous empathy’. Empathy is a wonderful gift… and it’s not enough on it’s own if the person coming to the conversation would find a bit of challenge even more useful.

It also reminds me that we can get so focussed on the training we deliver, that we forget to say that we are always available if you think a bit of coaching like that would be useful?’

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3D Ideas 811: It’s Nearly Over

Claire writes: ‘My year of fundraising taught me many lessons which will continue to emerge for some time. We raised about £4000 in the five days between the last walk and the deadline for the local paper… all because our journalist told me to let him know if we’d met our £50000 target by then. I’d been planning to lie down and recover. So I put the question to our community – ‘we have 5 days left, what do we need to do to hit the target?’

At the same time, we were exploring in our team whether marking that we had 5 minutes left in a conversation had a similar impact on getting to a great place. Sometimes the really great work only happens when we articulate clearly that we have 5 minutes left. ‘we have 5 minutes left, what do we need to do to get where we need to be?’

Of course it’s not over in one conversation, but as Amabile and Kramer say any progress is progress. And another £10,500 has poured into our team total in the same way that things continue to progress after a conversation at work is over. Especially if we ended well. More of that on another day.’

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3D Ideas 810: Oh!

Claire writes: ‘The room was full of midwives and other health professionals. They weren’t really sure why they had come to the day… and suddenly one lady piped up: ‘OH!’

I begin every single thing I say to my direct reports with a version of ‘what do you want me to do for you?’ and then when I get home at night, I wonder why I worked so hard and seemed to take on everyone else’s stuff?”, she said… “I told them to give it to me, didn’t I?”

She went away, committed to starting conversations with her direct reports with: “what would you like us to think about today?” It’s not, of course, that she will never help or give solutions. It’s just that she committed in that moment of insight to start with seeing if they could work it out for themselves first.’

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3D Ideas 809: Quality Space

Claire writes: “Unexpectedly, yesterday, I received a phone call postponing a piece of work that would have taken most of today. Suddenly the diary opened up and with some thinking space. I was also talking with Ruth, one of our coaches, and she was asking questions that were helping me to look at some of our processes in a new way.

That’s all we do as coaches – we keep people company while they think. And often what happens is that they begin to know something at the end that they didn’t know at the beginning of the conversation that will make a significant difference to what they do or think or feel.

There is something transformational about containing time and getting focused. Some people find that easy and energising to do on their own. Some can do it on their own if they are in the right physical space. And some people find it useful to have a thinking partner. What’s your preference?

And if you’d like to have a conversation like that with one of us, you know where we are!”

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3D Ideas 808: Pot Bound?

Claire writes: “I can still remember starting out on this journey of coaching and asking someone I respected for one tip. ‘Make sure that you spend time with people who are better than you’, she said.

That insight has been really useful personally and professionally.  I notice that leaders don’t always disclose to those they lead that they too are still learning.  When they do it has a huge impact on their organisation.

I’m sure we are all a bit pot-bound and it’s life giving to know there is always more to learn. Years ago, a colleague Judith reminded me ‘It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive‘. Onwards!”

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3D Ideas 807: What’s It For?

Claire writes: “GDPR – decluttering for data – is trending as a discussion topic in the UK this month! We realise we have always been hot on privacy. And we also haven’t paid enough attention in the past to what we are keeping data for. So although it’s been a pain, that ‘what’s this for?’ question is proving useful as we streamline our processes. If you want to know what we are thinking, it’s here.

If you’re looking for some kind of external support, the ‘what’s it for?’ question is also useful. We encourage people to have a triage conversation with someone if you’re not sure what you’re looking for – because there isn’t a one size fits all for coaching. You may be looking for

  • an external thinking partner to meet a few times a year
  • someone to travel with you through the transition into a new role
  • a one off conversation to enable you to look differently at a situation
  • something else

(This is also useful if you’re not sure whether coaching is for you or whether a talking therapy might be better. Rather than go on a waiting list and sign up to 6 sessions, a triage conversation can help you get clear on what you take where).

So if you or colleagues are looking for a coach, be clear on what you want to be different by the time the process is over and that will also help you know what you’re looking for. Getting what’s useful is more important than what a potential provider is offering, and indeed than chemistry. It will also save you time and money. Which is why we don’t have fixed term engagements – because we have no idea how long or how many conversations you might need until we start. One might be enough!”

PS We are also sharing new learning on our youtube channel if you’re interested!

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3D Ideas 806: Violins

Claire writes: “My overriding memory of my teenage homework years were crying at the dining room table with my books because our neighbour in the other half of our semi-detached house was practising the violin. I’d like to share joyful memories of recognisable tunes. Alas the boy who became a world famous violinist used to play the same two notes over and over again. Painful for my ears – and amazing for the audiences with whom he shared his musical talent.

Mastery – for musicians – is about drills and scales – breaking down their skill and getting brilliant one note at a time. Practice, and listening to what you’re doing is worth more than listening to CDs, orchestras and buying music books.

Most of us have conversations at work in one way or another. How many times have we heard – ‘your call is being recorded for training or monitoring purposes?’ That has a smack of big brother – but listening to how we do what we do every so often is an important part of getting better. This is especially true, I think, for coaching – practice makes perfect (well, great enough!).”

We have some mentor coaching groups starting up if you’re a coach and want to work on the way you have conversations in the room.

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3D Ideas 805: In the Muscle

Claire writes: “This term I have embarked on a significant piece of professional development starting with a 6 day immersion programme. One of my fellow delegates talked about getting the skill into the muscle. Along with a massage that went deep into my physical muscle, there was much to ponder.

The Asaro Tribe say that “Knowledge is only a rumour until it lives in the muscle.” We practised and simplified over and over again so that we are continue to embody what we are learning. That’s the joy of development and also an insight that the journey to mastery and simplicity is lifelong.

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