Conversations with others are complex. Even when they appear to be simple ones. Consider a recent conversation you had with someone. Was the intent of the conversation to solve something? Perhaps it was a conversation to debrief on a scenario, or possibly it involved politely catching up with someone. The skills you leveraged during your conversation involved a number of areas of communication you likely have taken for granted. One of them being reading the other person’s body language.
I have written about the topic of understanding body language previously, but what I want to emphasize about this area is the complexity of appreciating how difficult this is to do well. When you are able to leverage the power of being able to read the physical signs being displayed by the person you are speaking to, it can assist you in helping to navigate much more productively and skillfully via the conversation. This of course is making the assumption your listening and conversing skills are also at the same level as your body reading ability. If they are not in lock-step ability, the outcome of the conversation will be different.
How people make decisions, followed by the actions they take do not always occur after one another. Sometimes there is a delay in the actions someone will take based on the decision they have made, and sometimes, a decision had not been made, and yet an action did occur. We often see this happening when someone impulsively does something, and it appears obvious to you that there wasn’t any thinking or a sound decision made to support their action. When this occurs, the outcome can be positive, but unfortunately, it often isn’t. This is when either the person who impulsively made the decision has to either address correcting the negative outcome, or someone else does. Often a person who is in a leadership or supporting role to this individual.
Appreciating how and why others make decisions that produce fewer desirable results are not always addressed. However, most of the time they are, as the decision made by someone that was negative will often impact more than just them. Although surprisingly, this clearly wasn’t a consideration for the originator of the action. When leaders and sports coaches are faced with having to contend with addressing less than desirable choices and outcomes from people they lead, they need to do so strategically. In other words, taking the emotion out of how they might want to initially respond to the scenario they are contending with.
People with less life experience, or experience in an any area and independent of the age decade they are in are going to make less than desirable decisions. When they do this, it provides an incredible learning opportunity for them, but the impact of their learning will be largely dependent upon how the leader handles addressing the matter. Assuming the emotion is taken out of the equation for how the leader and sports coach approaches the individual who made a poor choice in either their actions or words, the next time an individual who is in a similar scenario may or may not make the same mistakes. Why? Because depending on how the conversation progressed and whether the person who is “learning” is asked questions to help them to understand why and how their behavior occurred, will help them to learn and increase their own awareness of why and what they did. More importantly, the impact it had, and which wasn’t likely the one they would have preferred.
Depending on where you are at in your own leadership or sports coaching journey is going to have an impact on how you are going to be able to successfully navigate understanding others you lead. The goal will be to understand others at the highest level possible, and here are some of the considerations for you to contemplate where you are in your quest to eventually reach the mastery level of doing this.
- Yes, you can fake caring, but if you are going to just go through the motions of addressing better understanding and helping those you lead, you are going to have to allow yourself to let your guard down when you are doing so, and truly care.
- Prior to discussing why someone made the decision they did, think about asking them open ended questions which will allow them not to feel they are oriented towards being purely punitive versus inquisitive questions to fully understand their thinking orientation process.
- No one enjoys being lectured to. Make sure you are aware of the fact you are doing your best to ride the line of being neutral in your conversation to first understand the persons “why” they did what they did, with the goal of helping them to determine what they could have done or can do differently in the future.
- Very few of us are mind readers, so don’t assume going into a conversation with the person you are going to be speaking with that you know exactly why they did what they did. You know the saying about making the mistake of assuming things…
- Direct your conversations and the outcome of them to be oriented towards offering them support. Even if they made a really large mistake, or if it was a minor one that needed to be addressed.
- Following up on your initial conversation with the person who needs more leadership guidance based on their decisions and actions should always occur. The “one and done approach” is too easy to subscribe to, and the most effective leaders and sports coaches will always follow up with you after an initial conversation where they were offering you their support and guidance.
Everyone makes mistakes and ideally, we will learn from them. How we approach having an understanding of the why and how others do what they do, and being open minded to helping them to become better and stronger in their roles is one of the gifts of leadership you can pass along to others. Don’t be stingy with this gift, and use it often. It will serve you and those you lead exceptionally well.
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