How what you listen to is affecting your health and productivity

We know that how we listen can affect how we communicate, how we build our relationships, how we make our decisions, and ultimately how we listen can affect our happiness in life.  At Coaching Culture, we believe that true listening is the foundation to health and happiness in life.   We are not alone.

Julian Treasure in his (less than 10 mins) TED talk “Why architects need to use their ears” explains how what we listen to at work, office sound and noise levels, can make employees “less helpful, less enjoy their teamwork, and less enjoy their work”.

Think about your work environment, what sounds do you hear?  How at ease do you feel throughout the day?  How well are you able to hear others?  What we hear throughout the day affects our mood, our health, and our relationships.  When we hear a constant barrage of noise it raises our heart rate, decreases our happiness, compromises our health, clouds our heads, frays our tempers without even knowing it.   Julian Treasure shows how it creates environments and cultures that are unproductive.

Think about your home environment, what sounds do you hear?  How often is the TV on, the radio, loud music, toy noises in constant rotation, vacuums etc?  How is it affecting how you build your relationships with your family, your child’s productivity for school, and anyone’s ability to RELAX and wind down at the end of the day?

Coaching Cultures TM are ones where everyone feels seen, heard, and understood and the place where it all begins is listening.  Julian Treasure believes that like listening, sound “improves quality of life, health and well-being, social behavior, and productivity”.

How is your sound affecting how you listen and your quality of life?  What kind of awareness do you have around it?


How to help your child succeed

On the heels of last weeks Being Schooled! The assumptions of a parent & how they are serving us” we wanted to share with you the article “How to help them succeed?  Talk, talk, talk,” by Adriana Barton (Globe & Mail Friday Sept 7, 2012).

In this article Adriana Barton says “to boost academic achievement (in their kids), one of the best things parents can do – according to at least two decades of research – is talk to their kids about school”.  However, it’s not just what you talk about, it is how you do it.   For all you parents who tire of grunts, “fine” or “I don’t remember” when squeezing information out of your kids about their day, we have help for you.  In this article, Carl Corter, a professor at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto shares with us the importance that parents express genuine curiosity about their child’s day “including the child’s play time and social experiences”.  According to Dr. Corter, our common strategy to get the after school scoop with “how was school today?” is “too vague to spark a meaningful exchange”.  He goes on to suggest that parents dig deeper and be more specific, curious in their daily discoveries which will spark more interest for their kids to share.  Open questions such as “What kind of activities did you do in science class today?” and “How did you and your friends figure out how to build such a strong bridge out of Popsicle sticks?” are questions framed in terms of discovery and are more likely to engage a response.  Another great question we loved from the article was “What cool things did you discover today?”.  We have yet to meet a child who doesn’t want to share their new “cool” discoveries with others.

We love this approach of fine-tuning open questions and taking curiosity one-step further to learn new discoveries about your child’s day. On the way home from school today I decided to jump in and try this new technique, so I asked my 6-year-old son what cool ways his new 1st grade teacher was teaching the class.  While his response was limited to “my teacher is pretty strict this year” he did follow-up (unprompted) with all the new “cool” things that he was allowed to do in 1st grade that he couldn’t do in Kindergarten, sharing things I didn’t even consider to ask about.  Curious to know what makes a 1st grade teacher strict, I did probe deeper and he was more than willing to share with me all the reasons he felt she was too strict.

“Parents can best support a child by understanding that they are an integral part of a child’s learning process,” Dr. Corter says.  Much of that learning process begins at home.  Listening, asking open questions, being curious, testing assumptions not only nourish a conversation and the culture you are creating in your home, they are also the building blocks of successful communication skills that support any learning process.  Like with so many other things in life, it’s not just about what we do as parents, it’s how we do it.

How are you supporting your child’s learning process?  What are you curious about?


Being schooled! The assumptions of a parent & how they are serving us

As summer comes to an end with kids back to school and most people back to work, you can feel the energy in the air.  After talking with many parents over that last few weeks excited to get their kids back in school – some starting new schools, others new classes and grades – you could hear the flurry of excitement, expectations and uncertainties that came with it.   What teacher is my child going to have, what credentials do they have and how well is my child going to learn with them?  Who will be in his/ her class?   How is the behavior of certain kids going to affect how my child learns and shows up each day?  Who is going to know more than my child, who is going to know less and how is that going to affect how my child learns?

Obviously, we all want the best for our children and as parents believe that our children are the best, at everything!  However, how do our assumptions affect our children and their experiences?  And how do our assumptions affect how we show up as parents?

Recently, I had an experience at my son’s elementary school where safety was called into question, and it was a legitimate concern.   Without going into too much detail, I learned about this situation, involved an individual with a questionable past who was sometimes on campus, from other parents who were outraged (with good reason) and much discussion was taking place over the summer about the safety of our campus, the safety of our children as well as calling into question the judgment of our leaders in allowing this to occur.

While it was easy to let our minds run wild with possibilities and assumptions that we were making about this situation, looking back the reality was, no one really knew exactly what was going on.  I had feelings of fear, anger, and doubt about the school that we were sending our child to, almost betrayed – how could this happen?!  This isn’t the philosophy of the school we signed up for.   Immediately my husband and I made an appointment to meet with the director of the school to discuss what was really happening, ask questions about who this person was and understand the safety concerns that we had as parents sending our child to the campus everyday.  What we learned was that there were A LOT of assumptions being made and in fact our campus was really safe – procedures had been put in place and our director was taking the safety of our children incredibly seriously.  As we left the meeting we felt relieved, empowered, proud of our school choice and excited to send our child off to first grade.  We are in good hands, our kids are part of a culture we believe in.   I marveled as I drove away how 35 minutes can completely change a situation.  By testing our assumptions we strengthened relationships, empower ourselves, and our community.  It also reminded us how assumptions unchallenged can be destructive, induce anger or fear, and not serve us well.

The success of any culture (be it a workplace, family, school, organization) as well as the success of any relationship largely relies in our ability to test assumptions: ask questions, dig deeper and gain clarity of a situation so that everyone has a clear idea of what is going on.  It is also an opportunity for us to dig deeper within ourselves and question who is this really about?  Where is this assumption coming from?  What belief do I have that may support this assumption being made and how can it be challenged?

As we sent our son off to first grade this morning, sure there was lots of uncertainty and opportunity for assumptions to be made.  However, we watched our 6-year-old bound out of the house with such excitement and openness to meet new friends, have new experiences and make new discoveries without the consideration of any other outcome.  It was a great reminder and lesson to us as parents of where assumptions begin and end.


What assumptions are you making?  How is it affecting how you show up as a parent? How are you testing them?