Listening Skills for Coaches by Greg Malszecki (2001)


Published


I want to tell you what a privilege it is to be here I am surprise actually at the large number of people who turned out for this session because what’s often looked at is the soft skills draw the less number of people who feel they need them in order to be successful.  As you might know, the things that are familiar but often neglected can become significant factors in your success in helping others be successful.  Most people forget the obvious….

 

I was telling Guy Edson this morning that having over 30 years of university teaching, celebrated appearances, workshops and conferences that I have been, I estimate that I have probably talked to about 1 million people on this topic.  Of that million, I would say that less than 1 percent of 1 percent has never taken the objective to becoming a better listener.  I am not going to ask you all this now, I am hoping that at the end of the hour, if I have been convincing to you at all, you will be among the 99.99 percent of 6 million people on the planet.  To do something you can practice everyday, all day long.  Watch the affect on other people as you get the results you are looking for and the relationship you want while fulfilling ……

 

I wanted to start off with a little story about David Hemery who wrote the book “Sporting Excellence”.  He was the 1968 Gold medal champion in Mexico City Olympics for he high hurtle from the UK and he tells a funny story about himself because he was in a field in the finally heap in which everyone else there was bigger, stronger, faster, and more experienced.  In fact, in all the meets that he ran, his times were the slowest out of everybody else on the field but yet he ended up winning the Gold Medal and a World record time.  How many times have you been surprised to see someone who looks like an underachiever or who has obvious deficiency or inadequate training go on to be the champion while those people who were technically superb, physically at their peek condition and trained with an excessive intensity of coaching expertise can not perform at the moment of the contest.  Now this is fairly normal isn’t it, I’ve seen this upsets all the time.  What makes the difference or what are the things that make the difference?  It is whether or not the coach is bringing out the best in the athlete at the moment that it really counts and how clearly and accurately the coach and athlete understand each other, each other’s goals, and how accurately they can agree on the way to achieve their goal successfully.

 

Your in a business where you are bringing out the best in other people and one of the ways you can do that is by modeling being the best to yourself.  You would not be here if you were not already expert listeners because that is the best way to find out the information you need, the best information we have comes wrapped up in people.  What I would like to do is offer you a step to a higher level of unique listening.  With becoming a champion listener in your own life time understanding clearly what you need to do in order to accomplish that, what the benefits are going to be, what the obstacles are that will challenge you and how you can go ahead and apply this in every facet of both your personal and your professional life so there is a greater harmony there rather than tension and conflict between your work life and your personal life.

 

Okay, let’s see what I have to say…How many people here has ever switched clubs, teams, coaches, jobs, organizations or partners because they felt they were not listened to?  Raise your hand if you have ever done that.  If you look around the room you will see that about 2/3 of the people can recall having made a life decision based on a simple fact that they were not listened to.  Now if you take a look it at what we understand to be communication.  Communication means setting up the best atmosphere for people to be able to exchange ideas and understand each other while they develop the essential organizational goal and accomplishes a skilled performance.  It is a complete process of learning to go and assert yourself and to receive the information that other people have to share with you.

 

Now John Williams said that in the United States, I am originally from the US, I was born in Detroit, lived in California and Northern Kentucky and visited almost all the states and my relatives are scattered all over including Alaska so I say this without prejudice.  John Williams said that in the United States talking is a competitive exercise in which the first person that draws a breath becomes the loser and therefore becomes the listener.  Why is it?  Because we are, a result-oriented civilization and we think of speaking as active and listening as passive.  But yet, the Harvard Business School did a study of the CEO’s of top fortunes 200 companies and guess what they found out?  80% of their time was spent listening to people, 15% of their time was spent speaking to people, and the remainder of the time was reading or writing.  So to be successful, in any organization, the prime organizationally tool is your ability to listen.  The most important person in any organization, as you must know, is the person that everybody goes to when something happens.  They’re going to talk to that person because that person knows everything.  The title, the position, the authority does not necessarily mean that the person who holds those titles, positions and authority can exercise them without the guidance of the person that everyone goes and talks to.  Hopefully, at the end of this session you will want to be that person.

 

Bad communication forces us to deal in absolutes; yes/no, on/off, go or no go.  At the heart of every catastrophe is the failure of somebody to listen to the information that was generally available.  How many times have you been involved in an organizationally crisis or a team split or a personal feud where people have stopped listening to each other and could have resolved their differences through applying themselves using one simple technique of listening to each other.  A message that is not received is no message at all.  False assumptions about listening, well communication is good; no, about 1 out of 4 people is actually listening to you.  We often assume that if somebody says something important they are going to repeat it.  Most of us are in for ten seconds out of every minute of conversation where someone else is speaking and then we’re out for fifty.  In for ten and out for fifty, sometimes we forget to come back then we have to try and play catch-up.  Why is that?  Let’s talk about why this is so.  We can digest between 450 and 850 words a minute.  You can process that many words a minute however; speakers can only speak normally between 125 and 150 words per minute.  What do we do with the differential?  We’re bored, we’re thinking about other things, we are preparing and rehearsing what we are going to say, we fill up the time with daydreaming or planning things.  Everybody in here can tell when he or she is talking to somebody on the phone if that person is fully listening or not.  How do you know that?  Because you know, people cannot do two things at one time.

 

You’re worth 100% to somebody else’s attention and because we are an exchange culture, if you give the gift of your 100% attention to somebody they will response in talk.  If they feel they’re being pushed away, they’re going to push back and it makes everything harder, more difficult, or extensive and less accurate.  You can’t assume that people share the same meaning.  The top five hundred words that people use everyday have more than 15,000 meanings.  If I say self-discipline to you, we may be in agreement because we all have a perspective of having coached.  However, you athlete may have a very different understanding, each may play a part in it.  I would never even have thought in my coaches’ presence of saying anything back to him when the coached told me to do something.  Now, instead of saying how high, athletes are saying how come.  It is a very different phenomenon that’s going on.  Also, the fact that involvement in the sport has been extended far beyond what it was in earlier years.  Back than you were involved for a lot longer time at more intense levels than at higher levels, before expert coaching.  You can assume that the quality of communication is carried on without friction that when you are talking to someone, they are actually listening to you, they may only be hearing.  This is one of the chief myths of the way we raise our kids we assume that hearing is listening.  I will give you an example, when a first grader goes to school; they listen to 90% of what the teacher says.  By grade two, they only hear 80%.  By grade eight, they only listen to 47%.  By grade twelve it’s 28% or less and then they come and see me at the university where the definition of university professors is someone who talks and other people sleep.  So you can see that there is a decline in the ability to concentrate on what’s being said because we have inadequate listening modeled for us in a society where people are often ordered to pay attention and as soon as they are ordered to pay attention they begin to resist that and they’re listening declines.

 

Secondly, I said the differential between speaking speed and listening speed is we are not taught to listen.  The third thing is that in your waking day everybody in this room gets 168 hours to live on.  80% of your waking day is 1/3 of that week, work week or living week, is spent in sleep, the other 2/3 is your waken hours of those waking hours 80% is spent in communication with other people or with yourself.  45% of that time is spent listening, 32% of that time is spent speaking and then about 14% of that time is spent reading and the rest of that time is spent writing.  How do we educate our kids?  The first thing that we do is to teach kids to speak after they learn how to swim and walk.

 

In the school system, we spent the most amount of time with grade 1 to grade 12 learning to write and read, reading drops off at grades 3 or 4.  At what point in our school system outside of language or music programs are people actually taught to listen.  Although the whole system is set up on the assumption that people are listening because we assume that hearing is listening.  I have teenage kids and I can tell you the difference between hearing and listening.  I can say you are not listening to me and they can tell me exactly what it is that I said but I know that they are still not listening to me.  Is this common with your athletes?  I’m sure, you know that they can repeat back what you said but how many times have you seen their eyes shifting around in a team meeting or waiting for you to finish so they can begin their practice or leave the locker room.  That is the difference between listening and hearing.

 

When we think about people that we know who are great listeners, they have a tremendous amount of influence on us.  I asked a class of 200 people what they thought was the most important factor in life decisions that they had made.  Of the 200, 80% said it was a single conversation with a single person face to face with them that took less than an hour.  How many times have you been a crucial part because you took the time out to listen to one of your athletes, peers, colleagues, co-worker or friend by just taking the time out to reflect back to them what they were thinking over a situation that they were in made all the difference in the world to them.  When they did a study in 1983 at Montana State for the Track & Field Team, they asked them what factors they felt were most important in the coaching staff, the ability to listen was ranked as number one of the top five factors.  Now if you did a survey among your own athletes, what do you think the response would be if they saw you as the person that they can go and talk to and that you will always be able to hear what they had to say.  What difference would that make in the quality of your work together and your ability to bring out the best in them?

 

How mush does listening figure in terms of our life direction, one of the things that we know is that this differential between hearing and listening has confused us because we think that we are informing people when we’re speaking and we are hoping that they are getting most of it.  How much do people actually get?  The average listener takes in usually less than 20% if what is said by the end of the conversation.  15% is fairly common; among this group I would say about 30% would probably be the average because you are very successful at what you do and you work closely at both the individual at the group level and in large complex organizations so you have to have a few listening skills.

 

In our society, anybody who can remember and can take in 40% of what is said in a single conversation is considered an extraordinary individual almost psychic, why?  Because listening is related to memory, attention, and positive relationships and to performance results, therefore, people who listen are going to be more success.

 

Let me show you a little bit about how it works, I thought that late in the day, for us swim coaches usually about 8:00 in the morning is about the middle of the day and late would be around noon time, so I figured 3-4 that’s a great slot for everybody’s metabolisms to slide right down to the bottom of the cycle.  I thought what I would do is to ask you to participate in a little exercise called the triad exercise; I wanted to just remind you of what it is that I am talking about directly.  I would like you to just kind of get together with two other people in groups of three and I would like one person to volunteer to be the speaker, one person to be the listener, and one person to be the observer.  So, if you can just do that now then I will give you instructions as soon as you are in groups of three.  I know that you did not feel like moving today but this is, believe me, you’ll understand what I am talking about when we have a vivid demonstration.

 

Okay, are we ready to go?  Have you decided who are speakers, listeners, and observers?  What I would like you to do is have the speaker speak for two minutes about situation that they have been in where listening was the crucial factor in either a success of failure.  I would like the listener for the first minute, and I will give you a signal, I want you to be an awful listener, just let that speaker know that you can careless without anything truly offensive, you can careless about what they have to say.  When I give the signal at the end of one minute, I would like you to switch to being an excellent listener and try to focus in on what they were saying, and the observers will just watch the whole set go on and watch both speaker and listener and then we will talk a little bit about it at the end of the exercise.  Okay, are you game for this?

 

We’re all in positions where we’re usually in control and we’re use to having people pay attention when we are trying to speak so it is double frustrating to be in a situation, even though it is only an exercise okay this is all pretend, but the fact is, that was a very long minute, I can tell that people were really struggling you could feel the waves of frustration coming out and also people were on the verge of loosing their tempers and saying something because the response is going to be that frustration interrupting what you are trying to say to get someone to pay attention to you even if it takes an intense reaction.   I have to say to all those who were listeners, you did a great job at being awful listeners you did need and training to schooling but on the other hand when you switched you also made good listeners.

 

When they did a study on couples who were happily married and those who were on the verge of a break-up they could find no social economic factors, no personal trait consolations, no physiological profiles that could determine which couples would be happy and which weren’t.  They did find something that has not been study that much but maybe a significant element of it in the Gayse Behavior arena which was that couples that were happy looked at each other when they were individually both speaking and listening and couple who were on the verge of a break-up, the partner who was speaking would look at their partner when they were speaking but they would look away when they were suppose to be listening.  How many observers saw people looking away as a way of being a bad listener?  If you break eye contact what happens?  They did a study at Ohio State University and they found that people would tell you half as many lies in any given unit of time if you were looking them in the eye.  If they do not have constant eye contact, they feel like they can get away with a lot.

 

I am going to talk a little bit about the gender gap because women are trained in techniques of communication because of their position in the overall society.  It is much more important to them to be understood and men are trained to ignore certain things so that guys do not take certain things personally if you don’t look at them and your yelling at them they just feel that that’s the way it is that’s the relationship.  It has more to do with the sub-cultures that we are raised in which is often raised antagonistically.  When they did a study of voices of nine year olds people had no trouble separating which were, the male voices and which were the female voices, with one exception, girls who identified themselves as tomboys could not identify as either male or female.  The second thing is the association of women executives in the United States did a survey of all of its members and found out that 100% of them considered themselves tomboys as children.

 

Let’s talk about what it was like to be a speaker when you were talking to the bad listeners?  You are not getting anything back from that person.  You are trying to strategize and you’ve forgotten what your message is now.  Now it has become a contest about whether you can get that person attention or not because they are not giving it to you, they are withholding it.  Suddenly your message, and as important as it might be for both of you, is gone because now you are strategizing around how am I going to get this person to pay attention to me.  Now you see that out of a million I may have talked to less than 1% of 1% has ever adapted becoming a better listener as one of their five life goals, because most of us who are not that good at it do not recognize it because the norm of the society we live in is its not noticeable if we’re not that good.  Most people have no training in that skill, we think that people who are listeners are gifted or special in some way.  We do not think of them as people with practice, who have trained themselves, who have been self-disciplined to be at their best, when they’re in a conversation with someone else.

 

Let me tell you this ladies and gentlemen, what is so valuable about what I have to offer to you today is that you yourselves are the key to raising the level of communication in your team, families and in your organization because you can model for others what you want to have in terms of your own ability to relate.  You can set the tone.  Remember what I said about being an exchange culture, we respond in time.  If you give somebody 100% of your attention first, they will try to match you and reciprocate.  If your idea of going into a team meeting that you are going to tell your team what they really need to know before you know what they really want to say to you then you have put yourself in a situation where you are going to get some push back.  The push-pushback phenomenon.  It is going to be a lot harder for you, now you will have erosion of your message, you will be distracted from what you are trying to communicate, you are going to loose the team unity that you can develop by offering first to hear what they have to say while you give them 100% of your attention and then respond to it with what your concerns are.  That does not mean having the same views, it means have the sense of respect that you can offer first and then respond.

 

We do not see ourselves as needing rehabilitation, I guess my message to you is that when you were about five years old you were run over by the deafness truck and you have to spend the rest of your life in rehab to try and recover some of your original capacity to listen.  Look at little kids before they start school and they hear everything.  It doesn’t matter whether they understand it, they hear it; on the other hand you can have someone stand almost nose to nose with you while you are trying to tell them the most important thing you can say to help them achieve their best performance of their life and then after it is over know that they did not hear a word that you said.

 

I wish there was a formula, that if you do as I say this will be the result.  Remember if you have every tried to change a bad habit of your own, by using that as an index you realize how hard it is to change human behavior.  People are trained to be bad listeners for an entire lifetime.  If I asked you do to this for me, for the rest of the conference I want you to take all your notes, sign all your checks and bills, and make you r telephone calls with your non-dominate hand, I do not think that ninety percent of the people would get to the end of the conference doing that.  Why?  Because it is a lot of work to change those habits that have become so familiar to you.  You can start on a one to one basis and you can build the team ethos around listening if you can take the time.  One of the things that you will find about kids is that they are so use to not being listened to by adults that they have to repeat themselves five to ten times to get a single idea across to an adult.  Ask my kids, they are teenagers now, but I am sure that they can still remember when I would just be five more minutes talking to a friend of mine to go in the car and then they would just leave by themselves because they are use to being ignored because we are not giving them the respect of being listened.  Listening to children is something that grandparents offer not parents.   We’re busy taking care of the details of kid’s lives.  I will try to get to that.

 

I have about 20 minutes left to try and get some very sophisticated ideas across to you about something that you have done all your life not as well as you could.  Our whole society is organized around the fact that most people are crummy listeners.  You tell me, haven’t you seen a relationship between a coach and an athlete that was a very positive one where the coach actually listened to what the athlete said or just said a couple of things to that athlete and knew what that athlete was all about.  Where another coach would not have done that and bring out a totally different performance.  Haven’t athletes been one type of athlete in one club and another type of athlete in another club?  At one time, I started writing a paper about great athletes who had been cut.  Remember Michael Jordan got cut from his grade nine basketball team because he was considered to be too awkward and clumsy so he was going to quit the game but he decided he was going to get up 1 hour earlier everyday for a year and practice basketball and then the next year recognized his talent.  Wayne Gretsky was cut because he was considered too small when he was a twelve year old from the kid’s hockey team because if not considered six feet tall they wouldn’t be a good player.  If you look at his numbers and compare them with anyone else in the NHL, it will be ions before someone can match them.

 

Think about this, this is a very powerful tool because it doesn’t require authority, it doesn’t require power it requires influence based on rapport.  You can motive people by bringing the best out in them by offering something that they find so rarely in this society.  Who are your friends, aren’t your friends’ people you can talk to?  How many people do you know have problems with their relatives because they can’t talk to them?  Biological families can be a hassle, look at Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Consider what happens, other people you have to get together with on celebratory holidays that you don’t feel like spending time with because you can’t talk to them.  What about your friends, you can hardly wait to tell your friends when something happens to you good or bad because you can tell them anything.  People who listen to us are valuable to us.

 

If I, as an athlete, had a coach who told me that I shouldn’t smoke because it was bad for my win while I was in training and stood under a no smoking sign chain smoking what message is that?  How many times have you been in team meeting where the coach talked the entire time and then released the team without hearing one single thing from the team members?  How many times did you call the meeting where you said to your staff or athletes have you got anything to say to me before I talk about the situation?  How many times have you yourself strategized around listening first before you had something to say?  You can that it is damaging, it is a lot of work, and you are guaranteed less than optimal results, it is less fulfilling for us.  One of the reasons why I think John Leonard wanted me to be here today is because the sport across the board are experiencing a crisis particularly among younger coaches who find that they are getting less fulfillment and satisfaction out of the job because they find that the frustration level is much higher than the satisfaction level.  Part of that is the function about the way we do things and the way we mentor those who are coming in to this field.  It is very difficult to put up with something that does not give you a lot of joy and when you find that some relationships and results that you have been looking for are less than what you’d expect you start looking elsewhere for that satisfaction.

 

Listening can change that, you don’t have to believe me, test it yourself.  I will give you a program at the end of the hour.  If you can try it for three weeks and tell me if people are responding to you differently, not that your not excellent listeners because you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.  Test it and write to me, although I offer this support, I would have to say that out of the thousands of people that I have talked to at conferences, I have gotten less than 100 letters back on over twenty years.  Let me just give you a few more ideas and then maybe some of the questions you have will be answered.

 

One of the things we think is that we do not recognize that we do not learn anything new when we are talking, we learn more when we are listening.  You may think you know an athlete from observing them from the deck, but until that person actually tells you what they are about, why they did this, how they were thinking about it before the competition started, why they came and joined your club, you don’t really know.  You may have a good guess, but you don’t actually know.  You need to hear that and if you don’t ask you won’t hear.

 

What about that differential time?  That is a big differential.  No matter how fast I talk, you guys are going four to eight times faster in your mind.  What are people doing with that differential?  Often sidetracked, doing other kinds of things.  It’s a Friday night I’m sure your not thinking about what Greg Malszecki is going to be doing in the next ten minutes.  The thing is if you are wondering where I am coming from, what is my message to you, how does this apply to you, what are the benefits to you?  Have you ever done this in any planned or programmed way?  You have all made out schedules of training for athletes, have you ever thought about giving yourself a schedule of training to improve your ability to listen to other people?  Probably not and that I think, is part of the problem.  It has never been a goal for most of us and has never been a goal for most in the organization and yet how many times have we had time spent wasted in meetings.  The definition of a meeting is a dead end street down in which great ideas are lured and then strangled but yet it takes forever to suffocate that great idea.  Why?  Because most people are not listening, while other people are listening they are preparing their notes.  How many times have you watched people go through the agenda and while someone is giving the report there not actually there, they’re someplace else, they could be in the pool, at home, at the country club.  They could be thinking about their program or the problem that just came up in the club.  If they were there, it would take a lot less time, less paperwork you’d have to have a lot less back up.  The trust level would be a lot higher.  The benefits of unity would be a lot bigger.  People would see themselves as collaborators working together to try and find a solution.  There is no such thing as a private decision in a club or organizational setting.  Every decision affects everyone else and the more information you have the more accurate is the perception of what other people’s goals are.  The more you understand where someone is actually coming from and what their strengths and talents might be if they are willing to work with you the more successful you are going to be.

 

There are four layers of listening; most of us do not go beyond one or two.  The bottom layer is hearing.  You hear the word, take in what you can and remember what I said, the national average at the end of a conversation people remember about 20% of what has just been said.  Within 8 to 12 hours that decays by another 50%.  How many times have you said to someone “Don’t you remember me telling you that” and his or her response is “You never told me”.  I have teenagers; I hear this all the time but I have impaired hearing along with the 20 million Americans who have impaired hearing.

 

The next layer is listening for information, that is what a lot of us do and what men are actually trained to do.  Men listen to the information for the critical amount that they need to know and then there off, they don’t need the rest, its all garbage.  Meetings, have you ever noticed where people are just there for a little bit and then they have to get stuck for the rest.

 

Next is critical analysis where you are actually thinking through the issues and you are trying to stay with the flow of conversation and follow the ideas.  The highest form, the one which is the most rewarding, the one that we all need in our personal relationships and that the most successful coaches and athletes have found in their relationship is a kind of empathic rapport where people are sharing their feelings and their understanding and the coach can identify with where that athlete is at.  They can actually see and feel things from that athlete’s point of view.  That doesn’t mean that they approve of them, doesn’t mean that they accept them, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t have a different view.  It means that they have been empathic enough to actually stand in that athletes shoes and understand about how they feel about what they are doing.  Now, if you could do that with each one of your athletes, including the younger kids, how much more successful would all of your instructions and practices be because you would not have to pry things out to see what the response would be.  They could tell you or show you.  You have to listen first in order to be able to reach that level of empathy.  The benefits are immense.

 

First of all, you are showing basic respect for people, you are reducing barriers and confusion.  You are building trust, you want to build team unity, try listening instead of speaking.  You can give them all the inspirational models that you want, people can memorize them, they can have them tattooed on their arm, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to live by them.  If they feel that you have extended yourself to understanding them and have gone the distance first and have taken that initiative, they will respond by wanting to be more like you because you have listened to them they will listen to you.  Remember what I said, it is an exchange culture.  Try this, it is not the way we normally go, it is not the way most people normally go but when you look at people who are successful, and yes of course there are some coaches who believe if you keep people in high negative energy you are going to get the highest results but that is very difficult to maintain.  You will need two special kinds of extreme personalities in order to sustain that.

 

For most of us, champions are people who deliver consistent results, superior results, consistently, and how do they do that?  By taking pressure off themselves, by clarifying and focusing on their goals, by concentrating on a shared objective and so when the coach is on the deck and the athlete is in the pool, the athlete is carrying out the planned program they have both trained for in a peek performance that is their optimal performance at that moment, trying to achieve the goals that they both agreed on.  That kind of rapport I very fulfilling for coaches who deserve to have that but the great thing amount this skill that I am offering to remind you of it that this is a general prime communication skill that is used outside of your professional life as well.  It will make you successful in your personal life, because every time you engage in a conversation with somebody you can practice this skill if you have the intention to focus, to develop an awareness, to give your attention and to listen, follow and reflect back to meanings that you understand where who ever you are responding to knows where you are coming from.

 

The essential quality of effective leaders is marked by their ability to perceive, digest, simulate, and then act upon the best quality they see.  Eighty percent of people who fail in a leadership position fail not because the lack technical knowledge, not because they have an inability to work hard and not because there is not fire in the belly, they fail because they cannot relate well to people.  The prime comparative in relating well with people is being able to listen to them.  Why is this hard for us?  Because we get derailed so easily that we can see from our little triad exercise, how expert we are at knowing how to do it well, not do it well, and how much work it is.  When the US government used to test Morse code, sending and receiving, they didn’t test the sending part they only tested the receiving part because it was a lot of work.

 

What are the issues that interfere with our listening; there are external disturbances such as the TV on, people making noise, cars back firing, kids are running around.  Pronunciation such as someone’s accent, someone coming from a different part of the country than you and you find it hard to listen to him or her.  Impaired hearing, ethnic speech, internal distortion, stereotyping, gender gaps.  Do you know that when you look at interruptions, what’s that line, “don’t try to talk while I am interruption you”, when you look at patterns of interruptions you will find that the number of times that the males interrupt a female speaking and the number of times the female interrupts the male speaking are almost an inverse proportion because we are trained in different ways around communication skills.  If you have a coed team or if you are coaching just males or females, communication patterns are going to differ substantially almost antagonistically, are you aware of that?  The experience gap, not only is there parent/child, teacher/student, coach/athlete but also old coach/young coach.  A young coach comes on to the deck and the older coaches decided that they don’t know anything.  That athlete, now a coach knows more about your coaching style then you know about it.  Because they’ve been observing you, listening to you, and finding out about you all the time that you have been coaching.  That filters out our ability to listen to other people that we think do not have as much experience as us.  Our personal concerns and past get in the way, “oh yeah that happened to me once, I know what is going to happen”.  Right away you cut the other person off while they’re trying to communicate something to you.  It maybe a completely different scenario but it reminds you of something that had happened to you so you stop listening because you have already made up your mind to where it is going.

 

The last thing is a block, which are strong feelings or strategies that destroy our listening; they create a kind of deafness.  This is often around the things that are most harmful in relationships; criticizing, name-calling, arguments, put downs, reassuring somebody in a superficial way, trying to solve their problem for them, all the kinds of things that coaches are use to doing a hundred different things all in one day, and being go getters often take on more responsibility for other people and even responsibility for their own goal.  That person develops a sabotage strategy because they don’t have the intention of reaching the same goal that you have assigned to them.  They try to mark out a space for themselves, why, because had you listened to them you could actually hear that.  Males are successful 28 out of 29 times of interrupting.  Women tried 47 times in a recent study, some as long as five minutes could only manage 362 more success at being able to interrupt males.  Women and children most frequently start a conversation with a question calling for a go ahead answer.  Men often talk far longer on the floor than women and when women talk as long as men, they are perceived as talkative women.  These kinds of things are problems for us because then affect the way we relate to other people and because we often misjudge the situation based, on the how we’ve been trained.

 

Someone who is ready you have to tend to people, you have to focus yourself on being silent and not doing anything other than trying to pay close attention to the meaning, “What is this person saying to me”.  Secondly, you have to reflect back the meanings that you’re getting, because we don’t all mean the same things by the things that we say.  You have to empathize with that person, not that you have to agree with them but you have to show them that you can identify as closely as possible what their situation is from their point of view.  The last thing, you have to rephrase what they have said and summarize it to check to see if you got the meaning or if there is anything else they would like to add or correct, because we are all human, we make mistakes and we get inadequate understandings.  What will this do for you if you do it?  It will help you identify messes, handle conflicts, save time in errors, decrease your paperwork, help you have more effective telephoning and meetings, better discussions.  It will build the team in a way that you can probably see within a month.  If you tried this for one solid month, you will see a significant affect on the consequence of your efforts of team building.  Its going to create and nurture trust its going to defuse conflict, it will heal the split between your personal/professional life.  If you look at the divorce rate among elite coaches and you are going to say that people tend to get stuck in over-working and the family, personal, and social side dries up and then your successful but you don’t have anyone to share it with.

 

Improving organizational efficiency, accessing personal growth, educating your superiors with in an organization, deepening relationships, you can mentor your superiors and teach them how to listen by showing them how you can listen, acknowledging contribution, acquiring the best information, preparing for a significant change, appreciation.  Bob Marley said once, knowledge speaks the wisdom listens.  One of the things that are important is that often times we are so busy that we don’t even know what we ourselves think about a situation.  How many times have you said to someone, “I’ll get back to you later on that” then you go over to your day planner and write in 30 minutes I will think about this between 1:00 and 1:30 p.m., none, because we don’t do it that way.  Why?  Because we do not have the answer right than because we are not listening to ourselves.  Our feelings, bodies and ideas are often confused so that triad exercised, you are all three; you are the speaker, listener and the observer of yourself.  Without the intention of improving on your listening skills, you will suffer the consequences of being inadequate training.  I would like to say that I hope that this has been useful for you and I realize that this has gone a little longer than it should have, but thank you for your attention after all, without that I would not have had anything worth while to talk to you about.

 

 

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news