You can’t tell someone something if they aren’t ready to listen

Monday, 11 August 2008

‘You can’t tell someone something if they aren’t ready to listen’ is something I picked up from my kayak coaching training. When coaching on placid water the major concerns can be considering the position of the sun and the group, background noise and any potential distractions. But in more challenging conditions or teaching over a longer period you might need to be thinking more about the students’ state of mind, how alert they are, and their energy and stress levels.

What really got me was how well this advice applies to the office/team environment.

The more important or difficult the message you are delivering the more you need to focus on the receiver’s ability to listen. For a really critical conversation they may really need to be in a space to consider what you say without many distractions, and time before and after to think about the conversation.

For any conversation where the result counts, I try to take a second to consider the environment the conversation is taking place and where the other person is at. Sometime I get it wrong and have to back out and try again later but I try to keep it at the back of my mind.

2 comments :

Mark Needham said...

How would you deliver a message which is probably going to be seen as confrontational/critical? I always find that the most difficult...and unfortunately usually end up backing down from delivering it.

Dan Abel said...

My first thought is to ensure that the first thing you say to a person is not bad news, both in terms of that conversation and the relationship with that person - moving up from that, having a ongoing relationship with that person will make them more likely to listen to the message.

Being brave, facing up and being honest seem to work, though if someone can see the problem themselves rather than you explaining it, you are on the win - laying out the situation, or asking them their view.