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What Do You Mean?

By Benjie Garcia*

Every day we communicate with each other whether through speech or writing. We use words to express our thoughts and feelings. We are so used to this that often times we assume that others understand us. We wonder, or even get frustrated, when we do not receive the response or reaction we expected. We often forget that our words are a crude representation of our thoughts and feelings. We form mental images from the words we hear. We forget that our experiences and expectations influence the meaning we attach to words resulting in a different mental image. Such differences impede effective communication which ultimately also impacts the quality of our relationships with people around us.

Effective coaching necessitates a sincere curiosity to understand the message a person is trying to convey. It involves developing a humble openness and interest to grasp the perspective of the other. It is about sincerely seeking to understand. The process of discovery makes use of helpful questions. Helpful questions seek to clarify the meaning from generalizations, figures of speech or slang expressions. Helpful questions also focus on desired outcomes and possible solutions. To be able to do this well, one needs to truly listen. We demonstrate that we value the other person by giving her/him 100% of our attention and to refrain from being judgmental, critical, dismissive or defensive. This mindset of sincere discovery is useful in numerous work situations, from addressing individual performance issues, to identifying innovative solutions to business challenges.

In today’s ever fast paced world, business leaders are increasingly expected to be coaches in their respective organizations. They are called upon to be available and accessible to their team members and even peers. This entails the willingness to commit time and energy for meaningful conversations. Most importantly, this requires a sincere concern and respect for people. Identifying, nurturing and role-modelling these competencies among the talent pool should be a senior leadership priority.

* About the Author: Benjie Garcia is a Director of POWERinU Training & Coaching Philippines, Inc.

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