What would happen if others were your focus in conversation?

In the Globe and Mail on Friday January 28, 2011 Harvey Schachter wrote a review on a book entitled “Coaching Up and Down the Generation” by Lisa Haneberg, ASTD Press, 106 pages.  The lead of the article reads “Coaches should make people their focus” and this caused me to reflect on coaches as well as parents, leaders and everyone else.
What would the world be like if everyone held their focus on others, at least part of the time?  How would this impact the way we listen to others and the way we communicate with them?
Many of the learning triads of leaders (most of whom are also parents) I work with comment at around hour four of our meetings that they realize every conversation does not have to be about them.  They begin to recognize the value of shifting their focus, when communicating, to the person with whom they are conversing.  This way they say they intuitively recognize the other person feels seen heard and understood. This is a huge ‘aha’ moment for them and one that begins the shift in their communication style.  They realize relationships are grounded in communication and to effectively communicate with others to build relationships, at times (more and more as one become adept at this) the focus needs to be on the other person(s) in the conversation.
The fundamental communication skills used in coaching provide an effective way to shift the focus to the other person.  By listening in a way that is open and curious, asking open questions, testing assumptions and not judging we are able to focus on the other.  We get out of our own head, no longer listen to our internal conversation that is telling us we know the perfect solution to the problems of the person we are conversing with and shift to a place where we can be open and focused on them, really hearing what they say and seeking to understand them so they feel someone has really listened to them.
When we see ourselves as leaders how do we want to show up with those who report to us, our colleagues and those we report to?  How come it is so important that we try to dominate the conversation so we can share our ideas, our solutions to the problems before anyone else? How can we better focus on others so we can all share in developing the most effective solution to any problem, the most value innovation for our organization?
When we see ourselves as parents, how do we ensure our focus is on our kids?  What does this mean to us, to our children?  If we are telling them what to do, what we want from them all the time, what does this message to them?  How does this support their development into resilient, independent people who have the confidence to make wise decisions for themselves?
As you move about you world over the next few days, we invite you to reflect on your conversations; who did you focus on during that conversation?  How could you have shifted the focus so it moved to the other person?  How did that change the conversation? How much did you message your intent was to see, hear and understand them?
We want to hear from you.  What worked? What didn’t? How we can best support you?
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