As a consultant, I move from engagement to engagement, interacting and building relationships with a variety of personalities. Through my experience, I have built a process around how to start a new engagement and manage the client relationships to be successful. But sometimes this can fail, especially if I don’t take the time to understand the other person. While the Myers-Briggs Indicator has identified 16 different personality types for humans, that’s quite a few to manage and interact with successfully.
So how do we adjust for different types of personalities and genuinely connect with people? In this post, I will be focusing on two of these skills, listening to understand and asking impactful questions.
Honing Agile Coaching Skills
I attended the Agile Coaching Summit 2019 in Chicago to hone my agile coaching skill set. I interacted with a master certified coach who, through years of researching and coaching people, brought her research data to the summit. The takeaway?
To truly connect with people, one must first find some mutual ground, listen to understand, be curious, and acknowledge and validate during the conversation.
The Chinese character for listening is something we can take as a guide.
- Ear – gather with
- King – most important person
- 10 – be as perspective and observant
- Eye – as if you had 10 eyes
- One – to sense with your whole self
- Heart – with respect and empathy
This picture depicts that listening is not enough. To fully understand another person, you need to use your eyes to see the context and listen with undivided attention and an open heart. This is the art of listening.
Try It Out
Let’s say you are having a difficult time with a team member. You invite them out for coffee. During the initial conversation, you should stop talking, drop what you think you know, and then roll with whatever they’re saying and wherever they’re going.
There may be moments of awkward silence, but don’t speak. In this silence, the other person will start to fill the void by continuing to talk and opening up to you. While you are listening, try to capture the essence of what they are conveying as there is always fear at the base of it all.
You should be mindful of your reaction to what is being said and follow your hunches with open-minded curiosity. This leads to the second skill set: Asking impactful questions using Socratic method of questioning.
Asking Impactful Questions
Questions that create connections are about them, not you. They usually start with a “what” (i.e. what would you do to make it different?). The open-ended questions explore complex ideas, engage in critical thinking, get to the truth of things, reveal issues, and uncover assumptions. This skill set can be further enhanced through trial and reflection.
Before you engage in your next challenging conversation, take a moment to consider how you listen to your clients, colleagues, managers, and even friends and family.
Amy Ruppert – Master Certified Coach (integreship.com/amy-ruppert)