I predict that 2017 is going to be an amazing year for all of us. I wanted to share some of the most common coaching notes that I give to folks in the AEC industry. If you follow these rules, I can guarantee that your 2017 will be even more successful.
1. Avoid the use of I, me and my in your conversations. Minimize your self references. This forces you to make it all about the other person. Also, make your questions to statements ratio 3:1. Ask a lot of questions and listen!
2. Avoid starting questions with the word “why”. It sounds like an interrogation, and the other person will likely be put on the defensive. Find a way to ask the same question with the other reporter questions: what, where, when, how. And “What the hell were you thinking?” doesn’t count.
3. Beware of REF (Resting Engineer Face). The most popular coaching note that I give is to simply smile. I know it’s tough. But it puts people at ease and opens them up. It also reduces your stress.
4. It’s not about the information. It’s about making a connection with others. Instead of a transaction, try to create a positive emotional experience. Whether it is your spouse, your kids, or the person at the grocery store, this makes your encounters with others much more meaningful. Also note that you cannot logic your way out of an emotional response. Don’t even try.
5. Try this empathy exercise: Get rid of the kids for a while, sit your spouse down and ask them to tell you about their day. You can’t offer any suggestions, comments, or criticisms. You can’t tell them what they should have done. All you have to do is listen and try to determine what emotions they were feeling throughout their day. And that is the only comment you can offer: “That must have made you feel . . . ”
6. An old man told me before my wedding a sage piece of advice: “You can be right or you can be happy. And the choice is yours.” Think about this one. Many folks in the industry have a need to be right and they sacrifice relationships as a result. Can you let some things go?
7. Whenever anyone gives you advice or a comment or criticism, just say thanks. Nothing else. Just thanks. Then, think about the advice. And remember, if you meet ten asses throughout your day, then you are likely the one who is the ass.
8. Build in personal reflection time EVERY DAY! This can be prayer time, meditation time, quiet time, vision time or whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should to be consistent.
9. Lighten up. Don’t take things so seriously. This too shall pass. In the movie Stripes, there is a soldier who tells everyone he will kill them for any minor infraction. The Sergeant tells him, “Lighten up, Francis!”
10. Spend more time with your spouse, kids, and pets. Check in with them often. Don’t sacrifice you or your family for work. Remember, when most people are on your death bed, they rarely if ever say, “Gosh, I wish I could have worked a little more!”
If you want a deeper dive, check out our Total Leadership Library! All of our courses on emotional intelligence and critical people skills are now online. Click here for more information.