Listen, don't fix

Over the next three letters I’m going to tell you more about three principles from Think Like A Coach that will help you be more coach-like in your conversations: 

1. Listen, don’t fix 
2. Ask first, tell last 
3. Your team member leads the conversation 

Listen, don’t fix 

In Think Like A Coach I wrote: 

“People want to feel heard so, when your team member comes to you with a problem – listen, don’t fix.  

The value you bring is not your answers but a non-judgemental ear.  

Think about the times you’ve been interrupted with some well-meaning advice. How often was it helpful? How often do you do this to others?  

When you don’t let your team member finish what they want to say, it sends a message to them that their thinking isn’t as important as yours.  

You can’t think well if you feel inferior to someone so as much as possible let your team member finish speaking before you add your thoughts.”  

The reason why you don’t listen 

You’re not going to want to admit this, but the reason you don’t listen is often your ego. 

Truly listening to someone means putting aside your own judgements and accepting that what you hear might challenge your attitudes and perceptions.  

Changing your beliefs is hard and your brain will try to resist as much as possible. 

I should know, this is a principle I struggle with a lot. 

I love being the expert, the one with all the answers.  For a long time I had a post-it on my monitor that said, “Your value is your attention”. 

In a world where everyone has an opinion and will interrupt you to give it, that post-it reminded me to listen for people’s solutions instead of imposing my own. 

What does this mean for managing your team? 

You want a team of self-sufficient, motivated and committed, problem solvers? 

Listen, don’t fix.  

Giving your team member your attention and giving them the air time to talk their thoughts out loud tells them: 

✔️  You value what they have to say. 
✔️  You have confidence in their abilities. 
✔️  That it’s ok not to have the answers immediately. 

When you jump in and fix every problem for your team they: 
👎  Rely on you to solve every problem. 
👎  Stop thinking for themselves. 
👎  Lose confidence in their own abilities. 

Your team member will be more motivated and committed to ideas they have come up with or at least co-created with you. So take two minutes and listen to what they have to say.  

The next step is to ask them what ideas they have first but more on that in the next letter when we talk about ask first, tell last. 

Give it a go

Your challenge for the next two weeks is to listen, don’t fix, in at least one conversation with each of your team. 

The Coaching Two-Step will help you to stay focused on this principle. 

The Coaching Two-Step Diagram has two feet at the bottom to signify attention. To the left is a speech bubble with a question mark inside it to signify 'tell me more' and to the left is another speech bubble with lines inside it to signify summarise.

Try it, let me know how it goes and send me your thoughts and questions. 

Where can I buy a copy of Think Like A Coach? 

Think Like A Coach is available in the UK from Amazon and The Right Book Press. Worldwide it is available through Amazon. Links here.

Want practical coach ideas that you can use everyday?

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