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How do you know what you know?

Do you give yourself a chance to listen?

A client of mine emailed me the other morning with an issue he was wanting to explore during our coaching session that was troubling him at work. Obviously, there were lots of ways that we could explore this together as at its heart it was a communication issue. We could look at influencing the conversation with this important stakeholder or what negotiation tools perhaps need to be used as it was starting to get into difficult territory. We might even need to look at conflict coaching, how to really understand what was triggering about the issue and why it had got to where it had for the parties.

Before we started the session and started unpacking the issue further, I asked the client just to stop for a couple of minutes for a mindfulness practice which is how I start most sessions to ensure we are both really present and not where we have been. In completing the mindfulness exercise my client said he had a light bulb moment about his colleague and it felt really clear about what the issue was and what he needed to do. He did reflect perhaps that it was not his “optimal outcome” but he felt confident that he knew the next step to take and had a greater understanding of where this may head for both of them. So session done?

I continue to be amazed at just how much can be achieved by just stopping for enough time to hear our own inner wisdom, our own intuition, or if those concepts make you feel uncomfortable perhaps just the time to know what you know. How often do we go “out there” surveying people and asking for advice where, in reality, we really just need to slow down long enough to listen to what we already know.

So what did we do with the remainder of the session? We explored ways to take this time at work, because my client insisted that whilst he could do that in my quiet office, there is no chance to do it out there in the “real world “ because he was just too busy!!!

So we looked at all the time it takes to survey others and we contemplated all the focus that is lost when we are mulling over a problem in our mind rather than listening to a colleague or focusing on the task at hand. The five minutes that it took my client to slow down and listen seemed to be an absolute time saver.

Then came the real problem – “how do I remember to do this during the day?” He said that when he gets to work some days it feels like he has hopped on a speeding train and has no control over where he is headed and no time to stop like we had done in our session.

Of course this is the hard part to remember all the useful helpful things we should be doing when we actually need to be doing them. How can you remind yourself to check in and “know what you know?”

Some of my clients have a visual cue on the desk. It might be quite overt like a stop sign as a reminder to stop at times and check in or it might be a paperweight or a sticky note on the side of your computer that you know reminds you of the importance of checking in. For me it is an hourglass on my desk. Other clients use a regular pause to remind them to check in and listen to what they know. Perhaps every time they sit at their desk they take 30 seconds to check in as to if something is troubling them or rattling around in their mind. If it is they might carve out some time later in the day to really listen and get a better understanding of what they know is the right thing to do next. Perhaps the most obvious one? Notice when you start surveying others. That is really a sign that you need to take the time to hear what you know to be true.

How do you take the time to know what you know?

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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