It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time.
People say 'It's as plain as the nose on your face.'
But how much of the nose on your face can you see,
unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”
― Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

The key to successful coaching is also the secret to successful communication in relationships, empathic listening. Empathetic listening means that you listen to the other person without judgement and with the intention of seeing the world as he/she sees it.

Empathetic listening is a proactive process - like playing a game of becoming another person for a short time. It takes focused imagination and practice to broaden you viewpoint before judging. Only when you can understand the actions of others, when you let yourself feel their motives within you, can you truly see their perspective.

Here are 5 simple steps.

1. Provide the speaker with your undivided attention to what is being said. Clock-watching, cellphone glancing or multi-tasking will sabotage your efforts.

2. Elicit openness by being non-judgmental. During this process, the speaker’s issues are the most important. Resist diminishing or trivializing anything the speaker says.

3. Pay attention and read the speaker. Observe the emotions behind the words. If the speaker angry, fearful, resentful or frustrated respond to the emotion as well as the words.

4. Be Quiet and do not interrupt. You don’t have to give an immediate reply to what has been said. The magic of communication often happen in the gaps between the words. Here, silence is golden. By allowing some silence after the speaker has voiced, they themselves will often break the silence and offer a solution.

5. Assure your understanding and let the speaker know he or she is important. When necessary, restate what you perceive the speaker has said. Ask clarifying questions.

Following these 5 steps and you will take your communication skills to a whole new level.


2. Be curious and ask Questions:

“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
― George Eliot, Middlemarch

We all learn by asking questions. Sales people and innovators discover clients’ needs by asking questions. History shows us that brilliant thinkers never stop asking questions. Great philosophers spend their whole lives asking deep questions about the meaning of life, truth and morality. True leaders consistently seek advice and ask questions.

Asking questions of ourselves and others is the single most effective way of gathering information, learning and gaining insight.

So, why do some people stop being curious and resist asking questions? Perhaps they think they know it all or are afraid of having their beliefs shaken by having their assumptions challenged. Others may be afraid that they will look weak, ignorant or unsure. Or, in today’s fast-paced world, some may not be willing to slow down long enough to ask questions.

The reality is that asking questions is a sign of curiosity, intelligence and strength. Intelligent questions provoke, stimulate, inspire and ignite creativity. By asking questions, we are able to challenge our assumptions and give others a chance to open up a dialogue.

Here are a series of questions which may apply to issues in your own life:
-What am I saying/not saying doing/not doing that is creating my dilemma?
- Am I unconsciously setting up barriers without realizing it?
- Is my career taking up the majority of his time? If so, how can I free myself up for social events?
- Are my activities/hobbies isolating me? If so, am I willing to join a club/organization to be more social?
- Am I - out of old, outdated belief systems or guilt - putting everyone in my life first? If so, am I willing to start putting myself first?
- Am I so afraid of rejection that I push people away?
- Are my communication skills turning people away before they get a chance to know me?

Author's Bio: 

About James Mapes

James Mapes is truly the embodiment of the Renaissance man: speaker, performer, coach, philosopher, clinical hypnotist, actor and writer. He delivers a message of unlimited possibilities, passion, love, fun and adventure. Mapes is a living example of the creativity of the human mind at work and his mission is to educate and entertain to show others how they can become masters of their own imagination!
James is a leading authority on the psychology of applied imagination, creativity, wellness, peak performance and leadership. He is the founder The Quantum Leap Thinking™ Organization and the creator of the Transformational Coach™.
As a recognized business speaker and performance coach, James has spoken to hundreds of public and private companies in more than 70 countries. His clients include financial institutions, software companies, the military, the healthcare industry, financial institutions, training and development divisions of large corporations and major non-profit organizations. Companies, associations, universities and business schools including - IBM Corporate, U.S. Coast Guard, Lockheed Martin and The Princeton Center for Leadership Training - have quoted Mapes in training manuals and textbooks.
In addition, his one-man hypnosis show, “Journey into the Imagination” and his mind-magic show “Master of the Imagination” have been presented at theaters, universities, Broadway and at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
Mapes’ programs, IMAGINE THAT!: Igniting your Brain for Creativity and Peak Performance, MIND OVER BODY: Harnessing Vision to Create a Wellness Strategy and TRUE LEADERSHIP: The Neuroscience of Effective Leaders have be presented in more than 70 countries.
His best-selling book, “Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owners’ Guide to the Mind” has been published in ten languages.
His newest book, “IMAGINE THAT: Igniting your Brain for Creativity and Peak Performance” was released Oct. 4, 2016
James Mapes presentations are personal, interactive and humorous. Above all, he creates results and makes a lasting difference in the energy level, commitment and productivity of each individual in his audience.
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