Oak Communications
December 2012
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The Chinese characters that make up the verb "to listen" include ear, eyes, undivided attention and heart. What if when we listened we used our:


Chinese Image of To Listen  

  • Ear(s)
  • Eyes 
  • Undivided attention 
  • Heart? 


I envision a world where we truly listen, to each other and to ourselves. What do I see, hear, feel, and notice when I pay attention? When I focus on the speaker rather than my own opinion or what I plan to say next, what happens? 


Jake, one of my clients at a company in Central Louisiana, told me that now that he is paying more attention to listening, he is actually learning more. He goes into a meeting deciding to listen and he gets more out of the meeting. He has set an intention to be a better listener and it is working for him. 


Sally, shared in a coaching appointment that one of the people she supervises, Jake, has been complaining to other staff members and "stirring up trouble." I asked Sally if she had met with Jake in private to listen to what was going on for him. Sally said she had not.  


When kids act out, often what they want is a few minutes of our undivided attention. When we focus fully on them for a few minutes, then they are content to go on their way, at least for a few more minutes.  


My cat is the same way. When she sits in front of my computer screen, she is trying to tell me something. If I get annoyed and try to forcibly remove her, she may scratch my hand. If instead I talk to her and pet her for a couple of minutes, she is then content and moves out of my way. 


So why don't we do the same thing at work with the people we supervise? What I hear from some clients, "They are adults. They shouldn't need to be stroked."  


In fact, research shows that humans have a need to maintain status. David Rock, in his book Your Brain at Work writes, "An increase in status is one of the world's greatest feelings. Dopamine and serotonin levels go up, linked to feeling happier, and cortisol levels go down, a marker of lower stress." 


Rock outlines the SCARF model which describes interpersonal rewards and threats that are important to the brain. SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness and when we can increase several of these elements in ourselves and others, we feel better and improve performance. 


What Sally could try is to meet with Jake and really listen. Sally must be aware that just coming into the supervisor's office is going to set off a threat response, so Sally will want to put Jake at ease immediately. She might say something like, "I have been noticing that some of the staff don't seem happy, I want to get your perspective and ideas on what might be going on and what we can do about it."  


Then Sally pauses and listens. She asks a few open-ended questions: "What else might be going on? Tell me more about that? What would make this situation better? How can I be of assistance?" 


When we improve our ability to listen fully, we will be more aware of which of the SCARF elements require attention. 


As we move into the New Year, how can you listen more fully? How will being a better listener make you and those around you happier? How can I help you? 




Sue Schleifer


Please share your reflections with me personally or on the Oak Communications Coaching and Consulting Facebook page. While you are on Facebook, please like my page!   

Rain Drops on Red Leaves
I have recommended David Rock's book in the past and I heartily recommend it again: Your Brain at Work.

My brother, Robert, shared this 60 Minutes segment with me. I think you too will find it inspiring to watch kids helping other kids.



Coaching Coupon  

"We are more like an acorn, which contains within it all the potential to be a magnificent oak tree. We need nourishment, encouragement and the light to reach towards, but the oaktreeness is already within."

From Coaching for Performance, by John Whitmore

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Sign up for life changing coaching sessions by January 15, 2013 and receive $25 off coaching fees for each of the first two months of coaching. Call today, 337.534.0954.



Coaching Services  

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Have you been thinking about working with a life/career coach? Want to connect? 


Give me a call to schedule a complimentary coaching consultation.   


Check out what a few of my clients have said about the coaching experience. 


"A year ago I met Sue for our first session. Through her probing and listening we pinpointed areas that, with specific attention to my thinking and choices, help me:  

  • be personally more effective
  • move towards a more balanced life

My spouse and employees have noticed a positive change, as have I."

Sales Manager-Fortune 500 Company


"Since I first hired a coach I have been a happier person and a more successful businessman. My company has become much more successful, our employees have had the opportunity to grow to the fullest of their capabilities and everyone seems to enjoy each day of life much more than in the past."


"Sue truly cares about her clients' goals and brings that passion to her work as a life coach. With her fresh perspective and eye for possibility, she helps me find creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
Plenty of professional and creative people would benefit from working with Sue, and I particularly recommend her to anyone who needs to get 'unstuck'."
Medical Editor and Fabric Artist

"Doesn't everyone need a coach? From working with Sue, I'm convinced of it. I am spending more time on the activities that are most important to me and have set aside some old patterns (like worrying too much!) that got in my way. Sue is helping me achieve my interpersonal as well as career goals."
President, High Tech Management Consulting Firm

I would love to be a resource to you too! Let's talk.


Sue Schleifer, M.A.


510.316.3319 - cell
Oak Communications

Lafayette, LA and throughout the country

510.316.3319 - cell

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