Last month, we participated in a Twitter Q & A session on the topic of how coaching plays a role in your being or becoming more of a “people person”. The Twitter talk was hosted by SACAP, the South African College of Applied Psychology. What follows are SACAP’s questions and my answers (which you can also find on my Twitter handle @StoutRostron, following the hashtag #Coaching2Connect):
Q1 How important is it to have good interpersonal skills in the workplace? #Coaching2Connect
It’s vital as most successful business is based on personal relationships. This applies both to your career prospects, to team management and crucially bringing in business to the company. Look around you and see who are the successful people and ask yourself why. Develop the skill and competence of communicating one-on-one with people and being able to make your voice heard in a group or team. The most crucial thing in developing yourself as a people person is being authentically you.
Q2 How do you know when your interpersonal skills are not up-to scratch? #Coaching2Connect
When colleagues misunderstand you, or misunderstand your requests or instructions. When you feel your boss is not understanding or appreciating you. And when your voice is not listened to in meetings when you try to make a suggestion. Ultimately it is something if everyone is honest with themselves. They know deep down if you are being authentic. And know if you are communicating comfortably. If you are uncomfortable you need to work on yourself and your skills.
Q3 What role can coaching play in improving interpersonal skills and helping you be more of a people’s person? #Coaching2Connect
First of all coaching helps with developing self-awareness. This is the building block of looking at yourself and understanding your strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. Everyone has aspects they can work on. Working on your interpersonal skills is important for everyone – especially those who are more introverted or shy. Coaching helps you understand how you can improve and overcome your difficulties and pushes you to always be authentic. From that results will follow. Coaching will help you with your communication skills in every way.
Q4 How can coaching help you to connect more effectively? #Coaching2Connect
You will develop confidence in yourself. You will become more aware of your own strengths which perhaps you have not yet developed. Different situations require different approaches, and you will learn how people are experiencing you. And how to adapt accordingly. For example, some managers out of lack of confidence can be too submissive or aggressive. Learning how to moderate your own behaviour will always produce better results. Self-awareness is everything and that is the key to coaching. Your coach can help you by noticing your patterns of communication and through those observations, help you to be more aware of your communication behaviour and its effectiveness
Q5 Why do good interpersonal skills make you a better, more effective leader? #Coaching2Connect
Leaders are required to communicate in a variety of situations and with a variety of different people. Having a vision in your head is no good if you cannot communicate it and enthuse everyone around you. Leaders need to be able to communicate vision, strategy and direction. They also need to be able to negotiate difficult situations and to manage difficult people. Persuading by ordering and shouting produces less results than persuading and inspiring. The more you develop the skill of communicating in different situations the more successful you will be. Leaders also need to be able to communicate through telling stories to get a message across. People tend to gravitate towards leaders with excellent communication skills and success as a leader is completely dependent on how you engage and are experienced by others.
Q6 Why does coaching require you to step out of your comfort zone? #Coaching2Connect
If you just stayed in your comfort zone you wouldn’t progress either personally or professionally. Just think of great sports teams or athletes. The ones who stand out and achieve peak performance are those who know they need training and someone to push them to their full potential. This applies in all walks of life and especially in business – and particularly for leaders. Often people engage with a coach as something is not working in their personal or working life. Or there is a wide gap or disconnect between the two. A coach helps you think through where the gaps are and how you can address them.
Good interpersonal skills also help you to deal with politics in the organisation. Coaching helps you to identify your own limiting assumptions and asks you to question and challenge what you take as gospel. An assumption is a proposition that we tend to think is true. A coach helps you to look at your reasons and to identify what is untrue and limiting. Coaching helps you to identify patterns of behaviour that are holding you back. The coach helps you to step into new thinking, new feelings and new behaviours.
Q7 How does body language play a role in improving interpersonal skills? #Coaching2Connect
Body language is more than 50% of communication. You will know when a colleague is saying one thing and meaning something else. It is something that we are all capable of picking up. An authentic communicator and people person is in alignment with their own beliefs and values. Words and body language communicate this and need to be in alignment. Our unconscious mind is dominant when we are speaking – and is communicated through our body language. If your body language and voice message do not match you will be sending the wrong message. This will be reacted and responded to. Our body language shows whether we are at ease and comfortable. This is picked up by the receiver and puts them either at ease or can create anxiety if you are not a ease.