EdD, Coaching Associate with Creative Strategies in Physician
one point in my career, I directed a statewide program and had
professional relationships with many others throughout Michigan. One
day, I received a business call from an associate who worked on the
other side of the state. Before her call was transferred to my office,
I was predicting an unhappy and hostile conversation since the last
few interactions with her had been unexpectedly sharp and angry.
was requesting a list of resources from our office. I told her we had
published such a list in the blue resource book that was sent to her
office earlier that year. Her response was, “You mean that old blue
notebook thing. I have never looked at it. It is useless.”
was frustrated and I could feel my shield coming up to ward off her
decided to take a risk by telling her my feelings. I said I was tense
and defensive to her comments, some of which I typically would reflect
upon and consider. I expressed my perplexity to the recent tone of our
conversations to the striking contrast of our initially gracious and
friendly interactions when she was hired six months ago.
opened the floodgates. For the next 15 minutes she talked non-stop.
She told me of her disappointments and frustrations, not with me, but
with her work situation. I turned off my replies; instead I just
listened and tried to put myself in her shoes.
the end of the conversation she asked me, “Do you understand?” I
told her I thought I did and put into my own words what I thought she
had said. At the end of our conversation she thanked me for taking the
risk to be candid with her and told me it had been a pleasure talking
with me. We both left the call more open, more optimistic and more
we all want to get along well with others in our lives, both
professionally and personally. One
of the greatest desires of an individual is to be understood. A key
factor to understanding another is to listen well.
years ago, I read Steven Covey’s
Habits of Highly Effective People and found his short list of
listening skills some of the most powerful tools to building good
working and personal relations. I have listed them below in hopes that
you too will find them beneficial. They are:
with the eyes as well as the heart
a sincere desire to understand
first to understand then to be understood.
understanding is not the same as agreeing.
with the intention to reply.
your own autobiography by evaluating, judging, probing, advising
empathic listen as a technique.
The five steps
to learning empathic listening are:
the content of the communication.
content and reflect feelings
when not to reflect.
The greatest courage is to speak honestly. Take a risk to say what you
truly feel, then step back and listen. If this is a new skill for you,
at first it may feel awkward to communicate, but keep at it. The
results can be simply amazing.
EdD, CPC, is a professional coach who helps hospitals keep their good
doctors. She is president of True North Coaching.