By Susan Begeman Steiner
Ever heard someone say about a charismatic person, “When he talks to you, he makes you feel as if you are the only person in the universe.” These charismatic people have a “presence” that is felt by others. They pay complete attention to the person they are with in the moment. And they make a great, sometimes unforgettable, impact on others.
How do they do it? Is one born with this ability or can one develop it?
Let’s assume that whatever “person-ability” you were born with CAN be developed to the level where someone would feel that they have your undivided, precious attention.
Think of Attention as a commodity or resource. When you are being “present,” you are fully giving your attention. You have a certain amount of Attention and you give it to something every moment you are awake -- like when you are learning something new or watching a TV show or talking to a friend or worrying about the future. You are always giving your attention to something.
To consciously give all of your attention to another person requires some discipline at first. Here are some suggestions to experiment with next time you are having a conversation with your child, parent, colleague, client or friend.
1. Slow down – Being present with someone requires that you shift to his tempo instead of your own. This usually feels like slowing down.
2. Face the person – Don’t sit sideways in your chair; move around until you are looking right at the person and your whole body is facing him.
3. Drop your own agenda – If you are thinking about what you want to say or get from the conversation, you will not have the bandwidth to be completely present.
4. Pay complete attention to the person – close your computer, look directly at her and avoid looking at your wristwatch, iPhone or at others in the room.
5. Listen out of curiosity – Your natural curiosity will lead you to the right questions to ask and will be felt by the other person. Or just listen without saying anything and see what happens.
The more special and worthy-of-attention you make others feel, the more of an impact you can have in your work and your personal life.
The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
-- Henry Miller
By Stephen J Thompson
Leaders tend to be closely identified with the organizations they lead. So much so, in fact, that it’s easy to overlook the fact that leaders can change jobs just like anyone else. And most do, sooner or later–even founders tend to eventually move on from the organizations they created, nurtured and led. (I should know–I recently moved on from running the international healthcare organization I started 15 years ago at Johns Hopkins Medicine to take on the challenge of helping to grow partnerships nationally and globally for Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital.)
Moving into a leadership role at a different organization presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities right from the get-go. Those first critical months are often referred to as a “honeymoon” period. And yes, to be sure, it can be a period of high optimism, mutual good will and eagerness to collaborate. But it can also be a baptism by fire.
In practice, the new leadership role is likely to have elements of each. Here are some ways to increase the chances of getting off on the right foot, and avoiding a good scorching.
Spend more time listening, and less talking. People will be eager to hear what you have to say so they can get a read on you. And it’s important to be honest and transparent rather than mysterious. But before you say too much, it’s better to encourage everyone around you to tell you who they are, what they think is working and not, and what their expectations are moving forward.
Assess, don’t judge. Chances are you’ll have inherited at least part of a team. You’ll have the opportunity to make whatever changes you think are appropriate, but for now, don’t judge people–just neutrally assess them. It may well be that someone who at first seems to you to be on the wrong track turns out to be exactly the person you didn’t realize you need to help you move the organization forward.
Don’t import too much. You probably won your new role by being successful at your last one. What worked for you before might work for you again–but it’s a huge mistake to count on it. It’s fine to hew to the same set of values and principles, but recognize there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to getting an organization to reach its potential. You probably need a new set of strategies and tactics.
Probe the cultural norms. Organizational culture is a powerful force, one that you need to channel in your favor rather than fight. Work hard to understand what the sometimes subtle cultural elements are, and think about how your goals and approaches can best be aligned with them.
Build bridges, don’t blow them up. The initial good will you encounter up front is valuable currency. Spend it wisely, setting up solid relationships built on honesty, trust and shared values. There’s little to be gained in neglecting or rejecting anyone or any processes at this point. Ineffectual bridges will fall on their own in due time, they don’t need a premature push from you.
Go easy on fast change. Leaders sometimes come into an organization prepared to fix everything, especially in a turnaround situation. But there are probably any number of good people and processes already in place, waiting for the right leader to unlock their potential. Better at first to focus on mining these raw materials in the organization, and making them key resources in support of your efforts.
Why risk a flame-out in an effort to prove you’re a bold, fast-acting fixer? Providing a smooth transition into your leadership role in these ways will help ensure you have a stronger and longer-lasting impact down the road.
Published in collaboration with LinkedIn
Author: Steven J. Thompson is a Senior Vice President, Chief Business Development Officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
By Susan Begeman Steiner
I am discovering how freeing it is to choose not to speak rather than say something that I might normally say. When I am quiet instead of telling that great story or making a witty comment, it changes everything. Suddenly – pang! -- there is a silent moment.
A conversation that includes moments of silence is like a sailboat moving along in harmony with the wind. A good sailor is aware of the wind at all times and sailing could be seen as a creation between man, boat and wind. It is certainly not a prescribed activity. In the same way, if we are quiet enough to be aware during conversations, they can be refreshing and creative also.
Often we find ourselves talking to fill the silence. Talking because we feel it’s expected of us as a boss, friend or teacher. Talking because we want attention.
Many conversations seem to move at the pace of a speedboat cutting through the waves on the surface of a lake. The speed is possible because most conversations are scripted. We know what we are expected to say, because we’ve said it many times. Here are some familiar conversation scenarios:
#1 "I know best:" State your opinion, listen to see if the other person agrees, then, if she doesn’t, restate your opinion or give more evidence to support it.
#2 Complaining: Complain about something with someone and then discuss who is to blame or wonder together why everyone is so stupid.
#3 One-upmanship: Tell an entertaining story and after someone else tells an even more entertaining story, tell a joke so everyone will laugh.
#4 Small Talk: Ask how someone’s doing, without really wanting to know the answer. Then say something neutral and be sure to mention the weather.
Silence breaks up the script. It becomes the invitation to experience which way the wind is blowing and let the conversation go into a more “organic” direction.
In the silent moments during a conversation, we can ponder and savor the last thing that was said, or give the opportunity for a new thought to arise or simply enjoy a moment or two of delicious silence.
How do you break the script? Here are some ideas:
• Ask about something the person just said. Then be quiet and really listen to his answer.
• Be quiet enough to begin to feel where the conversation wants to go naturally -- and then follow it there.
• Clear your mind, be mostly quiet and just enjoy a conversation whose outcome you cannot predict.
• Focus on being connected with the other person, instead of on what you will say next.
Choosing not to talk sometimes and being more quiet in general, can lead to a deeper experience of the moment and the resulting discovery of surprise at what is revealed.
Coaching is NOT CONSULTING
Coaching is NOT COUNSELING
Coaching is NOT MENTORING
Coaching is NOT TRAINING
If the coaching descriptions above appeal to you and you are looking to work with a coach, make sure that the coach you choose meets the follow criteria:
• Has completed coach-specific training, (not just a weekend certificate course)
• Offers an initial meeting to confirm that there is a good coach/client rapport
• Has earned credentials and has adequate experience
by Suzie Doscher
Thomas Leonard, The Father of American Life Coaching at Coach University, defines coaching as:
“The client and coach become a team, focusing on the client's goals / needs and accomplishing more than the client would alone.”
“Coaches also help clients leverage their strengths and develop themselves in ways that bring greater success and satisfaction in their career or in their personal life.”
What Coaching Is and Is Not
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