Approval and disapproval: Instead of sharing your evaluation, reflect what matters.
Comparing yourself: Instead of thinking about who is smarter or how your experience is different, or what you would have done, stay focused on the uniqueness of your client’s experience.
Evaluating or analyzing: Instead of interpreting or psychoanalyzing, reflect the content or the emotions and needs.
Ignoring nonverbal cues: Listen to the essence of the content, but also name the body language, tone of voice, rate of speech and energetic cues.
Jargon: If you notice you’re using words and phrases that your client wouldn’t use in a casual conversation, that’s a sign you’re using jargon. Use conversational street language as much as possible.
Leading: Instead of reflecting where you think they are going next, reflect where they are right now.
Long-windedness: Simple, short interruptions help people self connect.
Multi-tasking: Instead of cleaning off your desk and trying to listen at the same time, give 100% attention. Show that you care by suspending all other activities.
Pointing out contradictions: When clients contradict something they’ve said earlier, instead of pointing out the discrepancy, reflect the most recent comment and acknowledge their change, progress, new clarity or the appearance of a new voice or part.
Pretending you understand: If you get confused, say so. “I’m not following you. Could you say that another way?”
Suggesting a particular response: “I think you ought to go in there and tell him off ,” doesn’t lead to understanding. Nor is the suggested strategy likely to benefit anyone. Ask, “What do you want to happen?” or “If you were to put consequences aside for a moment, what might you do?”
Understating or overstating: If your client expresses mild annoyance, instead of saying, “You sound really angry,” reflect back the same level of intensity and energy. Likewise, if the speaker is loudly expressing outrage, she won’t feel understood if you quietly reflect, “You sound a little annoyed.” Meet her where she is.
Excerpt from Coaching for Transformation by Lasley, Kellogg, Michaels and Brown.
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