THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC
Listening is an important skill to use thoughtfully to develop business. One of my clients is well loved by his clients. They trust him and he gives them everything possible to supply great work and the best client service. He often calls me to discuss a conversation that is coming up and tells me everything he plans to say to the client.
During the coaching session, I will remind him to stop talking long enough for his client to respond to what he is saying. Each time, it is a revelation for him. He is so caught up in his need to convey information, he forgets that the other person is part of the conversation. And that person is the one who is buying his services.
My client is grateful for the reminder to make a statement, and then create space for silence, to give the other person a chance to think and respond. He confirms with me that he is much more effective when he remembers to listen. He also learned to be more comfortable with silence. During the silence, his client has the opportunity to think about what was said.
Some individuals who are process-oriented need time to think and digest information. Some people are impatient to get to the next idea and are quick to respond. It is vital to make room for silence so any person you speak with has a chance to engage and be heard.
The impact for another one of my clients was a big win of new work. While I helped her prepare for a meeting with a possible new client – the second phase of an RFP (Request for Proposal) process – I reminded her to pause and take a breath after conveying information. She is a fast talker. She is uncomfortable with silence, and like many people talks to avoid any dead spots in a conversation. By taking that pause, she noted the potential client asked questions of her and the meeting was much more of a conversation. The impact was the development of a relationship and the trust to win her the work.
Here are a few steps you can take to insert a pause in your conversations and become more comfortable with silence.
Prepare for conversations before you have them.
Write down the major points you want to make during the conversation.
After each point, write the word BREATHE or PAUSE to help you remember to create space.
During the conversation, check yourself to be sure you are listening rather than planning your next statement.
After the conversation, critique yourself: What did you do well? What would you like to improve?
A client of mine views each session as a question mark. When asked about her goal for the session, she shrugs and says, “Let’s just talk and see where it goes.” Other clients shrug when discussing their overall or long-term goals. They see a daily or annual goal easily, but find it difficult to articulate an ultimate goal and how to own it. As one client used to say, “Serendipity is not a strategy.”
For example, a sales executive may adopt the company’s goal for them as their own. The company wants them to hit the goal of $X that quarter. They may embrace the goal because the success is directly tied to their bonus or compensation. That is their motivation, and that is ok. However when asked about their personal path, they may shrug. They are thinking about what is in front of them now rather than what is possible for them.
During coaching sessions, I may say, “Tell me about your best days at work. What does that look like?”. Clients often express their frustrations and what causes them anxiety. That seems to be easier than identifying what they really want or how things could be different.
Understanding individual wants and needs helps clients grab control of their career. I often hear from clients, “I stayed too long in that position, but I was not sure what should come next,” or “No one offered me a different path, so I just kept doing what I was doing.”
I suggest taking a look at your life annually. Confirm you are on the right path for you, or adjust the path if you are frustrated or unhappy. Here is how to get started.
When are you the happiest at work and in your life?
How do you get more of that in your day?
Visualize what needs to be different in order to have more of that happiness in your life?
Write down your ultimate goal. Articulate what is possible in your life.
Celebrate. If you are on the right path, stop and congratulate yourself! If you have identified changes to make, think about your next steps.
Taking time to plan and revisiting your plans and aspirations is imperative to growth. When I work with clients, we revisit their plans regularly in order to adjust to changes in their thought process or environment. Annually, we gain inspiration through the blankness of the new notebook page. The beauty of shedding the challenges of the past and creating a fresh path brings excitement and exhilaration.
In these times when we shed the old, my clients and I first take a moment to acknowledge the accomplishments of the past. For my clients, that can mean celebrating promotions, increased revenues, mastery of a new time management habit, and seeing the effects of a positive change.
There is power in writing it down and saying it out loud. As we discussed in the blog about Mindset – What You Tell Yourself, convincing yourself of your ability to achieve something is an important step in achievement.
My clients emphasize the critical link between planning and success. They are especially appreciative of working with me to articulate their overall goals and then to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-driven) goals so they can measure success.
Listed below are the steps in the process.
Determine the primary goal, objective or focus. What are you trying to achieve? Write it down.
Create ways to measure your success – SMART goals. Write them down and keep them in a place where you can see them every day.
Create an action plan based on the SMART goals. What actions will move you toward success?
Execute and evaluate. Throughout the year, execute on the plan, and take the time to evaluate along the way. What needs to change as the result of the new information your actions bring?
Working with a business or leadership coach is much like working with a personal trainer, a client told me. One of the keys to your success in executing your leadership, business, or exercise plan is accountability. Who tells you that you missed an action item you promised to do?
Will you really do 20 squats, 20 push ups, and 20 burpees every morning if you do not have a personal coach who expects a full report from you each week? There are some super humans who can say yes. For most people though, the answer is no. The personal trainer will know by your muscle tone whether you executed your plan in the same way your business coach will know by the tone of your voice during your touch base meeting whether you attempted to make contact with your clients that week or solicited feedback from your team.
Following up and following through are critical to success. The bottom line is we all need someone or some way to stay accountable for our action items. We all need some help moving forward to reach our goals.
Having a plan and action items in place helps clients manage their time. They learn there is enough time to accomplish their action item. It is often a small step to move forward. As they complete step after step, they gain momentum and begin to roll rather than crawl toward their success.
Clients tell me that seeing a meeting with me on their calendar helps them both remember what they promised to do when we developed their plan and to actually do what they agreed to do. They feel accountable to me, but the plan is not for me. The plan is for them. The promises they made are to themselves. Ultimately, they decide whether to be committed to themselves.
Here are some additional ways to hold yourself accountable:
Find a buddy and schedule recurring meetings to touch base with each other.
A client of mine was stuck on how to handle his working relationship with a good contact. He was afraid that reaching out with information about services he could offer would be inappropriate or bothersome. We analyzed the relationship on multiple occasions. There were no signs from the contact that indicated annoyance. The relationship was strong. We role played conversations searching for the right tone my client could take in asking for a meeting to discuss business. He still felt uncomfortable reaching out.
Suddenly, months later, he pushed himself to forget his excuses for not reaching out and he made the call. To his surprise, his contact was excited to talk to him about working together.
He realized his own thoughts were the only things that held him back from advancing the relationship forward. He had spent hours arguing with himself in a conversation where the other party had no voice. Unfair to himself and to his contact.
Think about the stories you tell yourself. Do they hold you back? Do they cheer you on? You can increase your chances of success by taking control of your mindset.
1. Start by writing out your thoughts in the morning. This helps take off the edge by getting thoughts and frustrations out of your head and onto the paper.
2. Next, write down your hopes for your day. What are the outcomes you want to achieve?
3. Finally, think about what you need to do to achieve those results.
Take the time to express your thoughts and guide your mind to work with you. Be your own ally.
For more information about how coaching can help you, contact Mary Balistreri at email@example.com
Hearing your own thoughts and ideas reflected back to you significantly motivates you to move forward. A client told me that the power of her own words mirrored back to her greatly impacted her success.
I regularly ask clients for feedback regarding how coaching is helping them. This blog will focus on the wisdom clients have shared.
One client opened my eyes to how powerful her own thoughts can be. They focused her, strengthened her, and gave her a path to follow. The coach takes on a vital role in creating the quiet space to foster contemplation and acts as a sounding board for problem-solving and innovation.
Clients hold the power over their future and create the possibility for self-improvement by:
Deciding to take the time to work with a coach.
Creating the space to listen to the coach’s questions and think about the answers. This means eliminating the distractions of work and life during the coaching session.
Committing to the process of moving forward with guidance from the coach. Clients who realize success through coaching made the commitment to themselves to take the time. Not just during the coaching session, but in their life to execute on the actions developed during the session.
If you are interested in learning more about how coaching can help you, subscribe to this blog or contact firstname.lastname@example.org