Tag Archives: listening


Effective communication insights  : 7 ways to sharpen rapport

A few insights to help build rapport and by no means an exhaustive list :
* Take a genuine interest in getting to know what is important to the other person. Start to understand them rather than expecting them to understand you first.
* Pick up on the key words,favourite phrases and way of speaking that someone uses and build some of these appropriately and subtly into your conversation
* Be aware of how someone likes to handle information. For example, do the like lots of fine detail or just the big picture. As you speak feedback information in this same portion size
* Keep looking out for the other person’s intention-their underlying aim- rather than what the initially do or say. They may not always get it right,but expect their heart to be in the right place.
* Respect the other persons time,energy,interests,people – they will be important resources for them
* Adopt a similar stance in terms of body language, gestures,voice tone and speed
* Breathe in unison with them

Learning point: 

It is worth reflecting on how you engage with other people and to what extent you set out to develop a strong rapport by linking into and understanding their agenda. Not in a way that you turn it on and off like a tap – but as part of a built in communication skill delivered with unconscious competence 



When aiming to reach agreement:

  • Genuinely seek to find points of agreement in what the other person is saying 
  •  If you just agree with everything there is no contribution
  • To disagree at all times is annoying and irritating 
  • There is no need to be right all of the time so try to control your ego during discussion and focus on the subject matter
  • Make a real effort to understand where the other person is coming from.What is that persons logic world?
  • Consider if there are circumstances where the other persons view might be right, express these circumstances clearly and show your agreement for those specific areas.
  • Acknowledge the value of someone’s special experience and treat this as a strong possibility but not necessarily complete
  • Reject a sweeping generalisation but see If you agree with any aspect of that generalisation when it is more fully explored

sunfloer june13

How to Really Understand Someone Else’s Point of View by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

The most influential people strive for genuine buy in and commitment — they don’t rely on compliance techniques that only secure short-term persuasion. That was our conclusion after interviewing over 100 highly respected influences across many different industries and organizations for our recent book.

These high-impact influencers follow a pattern of four steps that all of us can put into action.

  1. Go for great outcomes
  2. Be aware of your blind spots
  3. Engage others in “their there.”
  4. Then – Step 4: When you’ve done enough… do more. 

To understand why  step 3 is so important, imagine that you’re at one end of a shopping mall — say, the northeast corner, by a cafe. Next, imagine that a friend of yours is at the opposite end of the mall, next to a toy store. And imagine that you’re telling that person how to get to where you are.

Now, picture yourself saying, “To get to where I am, start in the northeast corner by a cafe.” That doesn’t make sense, does it? Because that’s where you are, not where the other person is.

Yet that’s how we often try to convince others — on our terms, from our assumptions, and based on our experiences. We present our case from our point of view. There’s a communication chasm between us and them, but we’re acting as if they’re already on our side of the gap.

Like in the shopping mall example, we make a mistake by starting with how we see things (“our here”). To help the other person move, we need to start with how they see things (“their there”). 

For real influence we need to go from our here to their there to engage others in three specific ways:

  1. Situational Awareness: Show that You Get “It.” Show that you understand the opportunities and challenges your conversational counterpart is facing. Offer ideas that work in the person’s there. When you’ve grasped their reality in a way that rings true, you’ll hear comments like “You really get it!” or “You actually understand what I’m dealing with here.”
  2. Personal Awareness: You Get “Them.” Show that you understand his or her strengths, weaknesses, goals, hopes, priorities, needs, limitations, fears, and concerns. In addition, you demonstrate that you’re willing to connect with them on a personal level. When you do this right, you’ll hear people say things like “You really get me!” or “You actually understand where I’m coming from on this.”
  3. Solution Awareness: You Get Their Path to Progress. Show people a positive path that enables them to make progress on their own terms. Give them options and alternatives that empower them. Based on your understanding of their situation and what’s at stake for them personally, offer possibilities for making things better — and help them think more clearly, feel better, and act smarter. When you succeed, you’ll hear comments like, “That could really work!” or “I see how that would help me.”

An example:

An interesting example involves Mike Critelli, former CEO of the extraordinarily successful company, Pitney Bowes. Mike was one of the highly prestigious Good to Great CEOs featured in the seminal book by Jim Collins on how the most successful businesses achieve their results.

One of Mike’s many strengths is the ability to engage his team on their terms to achieve high levels of performance and motivation. When we asked him about this, he said, “Very often what motivates people are the little gestures, and a leader needs to listen for those. It’s about picking up on other things that are most meaningful to people.”

For example, one employee had a passing conversation with Mike about the challenges of adopting a child, pointing out that Pitney Bowes had an inadequate adoption benefit. A few weeks after that, he and his wife received a letter from Mike congratulating them on their new child — along with a check for the amount of the new adoption benefit the company had just started offering.

When he retired, the Pitney Bowes employees put together a video in which they expressed their appreciation for his positive influence over the years. They all talk about ways that Mike “got” them — personal connections and actions that have accumulated over time into a reputation that attracted great people to the organization and motivated them to stay.

When you practice all three of these ways of “getting” others — situational, personal, and solution-oriented — you understand who people are, what they’re facing, and what they need in order to move forward. This is a powerful way to achieve great results while strengthening your relationships.

When you’re trying to influence, don’t start by trying to pull others into your hereInstead, go to their there , by asking yourself:

  • Am I getting who this person is? 
  • Am I getting this person’s situation? 
  • Am I offering options and alternatives that will help this person move forward? 
  • Does this person get that I get it?





We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.  Albert Einstein

When working with clients it often emerges that the quality of their thinking is causing blocks to desired progress. Our focus then switches to better understanding how the client processes information and makes decisions to help move forward.


Common to all subjects and levels is the concept of higher and lower order thinking skills. Higher order skills are considered to be more complex than lower order skills. The triangle model provides a useful way to visualise the relationships between some of the key skills. The complexity of the skills increases from the base to the top of the list below

Although the skills are arranged in a hierarchical way, they are all important. Much of the thinking we do involves a mixture of skills at different levels. We develop and use them simultaneously, for example, when we are solving problems and analysing case studies.

It is possible to extend and develop higher order thinking skills – to develop thinking at a qualitatively higher level, to move into a higher gear.

The specific skills in each area are shown in this list  here:

Evaluate           judge, appraise, choose, rate, assess, estimate, value, measure, criticise

Synthesise      formulate, teach, design, develop, re-define, propose, create

Analyse           distinguish, differentiate, calculate, debate, relate, compare, experiment, contrast, examine

Apply             demonstrate, schedule, operate, sketch, employ, use, practice

Comprehend  restate, identify, discuss, locate, recognise, review, explain, tell, clarify

Know             recall, define, state, list, repeat, name, recount, present, find



Activity 1 Complete a simple audit covering the ways you think

Personal statements Always Sometimes Never
I see myself as open and fair minded.
I am curious to find out about things.
I am really interested in a specific subject
I relate ideas to previous knowledge, experience and wider contexts
I look for patterns and relationships between things.
I like to ask questions and not accept things at face value
I don’t rush to make judgements or have opinions on things.
I like to look at all sides of an argument or issues before coming to a conclusion
I am persistent and like to get to the bottom of things.
I don’t like situations where people just state opinions without giving reasons or evidence
I like to find things out for myself and come to my own conclusions on things
I like to be creative and innovative.
I take time to reflect on things/my own thinking
I like clarity, order and precision
I think strategically about things
Any statement you wish to add
Any statement you wish to add

Activity 2 Use the table again to map where you would like to be and consider the gapsand then reflect on any learning gained using the table below

Reflection – what I have noticed? Action – what I will do?
What have you learned in terms of potential limitations?Do the limitations matter right now in your life?/if so consider next step actions……
What have you noticed in terms of strengths?Do you want to develop these strengths further?Consider what you might do to achieve this


The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. A person cannot help but be in awe when they contemplate the mystery of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one merely tries to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

(Albert Einstein)

  1. Questions to develop skills at different levels of thinking
Knowledge and understanding What? Who? When?What is an example of x?What is meant by …..?

What is another way of explaining..?

Is this an example of …?

Can I describe x in my own words?

Application How is it used?What does it relate to?In what situations …?
Analysis Why? How?What is the reason for ….. ?What evidence is there to support the conclusion?

What are the causes of …?

How do … fit together?

Synthesis If x happens, then what next?What does the theory predict will happen?What are my own conclusions on the basis of the information available?

How does x relate to y?

Evaluation Is this good or not and why?Is this reasonable or not and why?


Two common thinking problems are: a feeling of not being able to ‘see the wood for the trees’, and difficulty in being logical and orderly. The key to solving them is being able to think about ideas and information in a conceptual and systematic way so that you have ways to structure your thinking.

This can involve:

  • looking at the broader context
  • developing mental models and frameworks to hang ideas and information on
  • Being able to distinguish relative importance and seeing patterns and relationships.

Other ways might be based on:

  • chronology,
  • complexity,
  • spatial organisation,
  • positive and negative aspects,
  • pros and cons,
  • familiar and unfamiliar,
  • from top to bottom of an organisational structure.

In some cases, the component parts of something work together to form a system, for example arteries, veins and capillaries work together to form the blood circulatory system in the body.





For example, the DANCE system (Rose and Nicholl, 1997) is one of many tools for solving problems.

D – Define and clarify what the problem really is (sometimes it is not initially clear). What are your goals?

A – Think of a range of alternative ways of solving the problem.

N – Narrow down the range of possible solutions to leave the best.

C – Choose the ideal solution and check what the consequences might be.

E – Effect action using the best solution.






Organising thought can be assisted greatly by the use of visual tools.

These can include:

  • diagrams,
  • mind-maps,
  • tables,
  • graphs, time lines,
  • flow charts,
  • sequence diagrams,
  • decision trees
  • story boards
  • rich pictures
  • or other visual representations.

The process of making visual representations can itself involve using and developing a range of thinking skills, particularly higher order skills. So, whether you need the resulting product or not they can be worth doing. However, the resulting product can also provide an effective way of communicating your thinking to others. In fact, sometimes it can be very hard not to use a diagram – drawing or referring to a map, for example, makes it much easier to give directions.

Mind-mapping can be a particularly powerful visual tool for shaping thought. The basic principle here is to note down the central topic or idea in the centre of a piece of paper and work outwards adding the points which flow from and connect to it. It is particularly helpful for seeing the different

levels of thought.  Here is a mind map example by someone planning to write an essay on memory.


 .At this stage, you may find it useful to consider how ideas like these can be put together in ways that will help you when you engage in activities such as reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Here is a checklist to use when making judgements about things that you hear, see and experience.

  • Who is speaking or writing?
  • What is their point of view or perspective?
  • What ideas and information are presented and how were they obtained?
  • Are there unsupported assertions?
  • Are reasons or evidence provided?
  • Are the reasons and evidence given relevant?
  • Is the method used to find the evidence sound?
  • Is the evidence correct or valid?
  • What assumptions have been made?
  • What is fact and what is opinion?
  • What are the implicit and explicit values?
  • Are there unreasonable generalisations?
  • What has been omitted?
  • How was the conclusion reached?
  • Is the conclusion reasonable?
  • What other perspectives or points of view could there be?
  • You may be able to think of more points to add to this list.


RESOURCES -more insights

Listening Skills


Thinking Errors

Thinking Skills

We Are Our Thoughts

9 Mind blowing epiphanies

Critical Thinking – check your style and reasoning

10 Things To Stop Doing Now

Developing Resilience




IMG_1573 Peter Cobbe Coaching

  • NOW ACCEPTING NEW CLIENTS : Coaching via Skype / Facetime / 1 to 1 meetingsMy career experience includes HR Director and senior executive roles in Barclays plc and Tesco plc leading major transformation and complex change programmes reporting at Board level .I have an MBA, BA and I am a member of the CIPD and Association for Coaching. I am an accredited coach with over 12 years of private client coaching experience and as an associate consultant with Penna (UK) dealing with career, life,executive and business coaching and counselling. I work in mentoring and coaching partnerships with executives to help achieve gains of importance to them.I help people of all ages, different cultures and job levels to understand more about themselves, their impact on others and how to develop across major dimensions in life.
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Just a thought :

Five frogs are sitting on a log.
Four decide to jump off. How many are left? 

Answer: five. Why? Because there’s a difference between deciding and doing.

Mark Feldman

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