Step One: Stay out of your own head

People often think they are ‘out of their head’ when in fact they are busy formulating answers and solutions to what is being said, instead of paying attention and listening.

If you are busy talking to yourself in your own mind it is impossible to concentrate and listen to what someone else is saying

The only way to really understand what someone is saying is by listening carefully and asking the right questions until you are clear about what is being said.

Listen, question, clarify and if need be ask more questions until you understand exactly what someone means by what they are saying.

Good communicators know to ‘park’ their thoughts when listening to others and ask the right questions specifically to clarify what they don’t understand.

Step Two: Really listen to others

People will tell you what they want, usually with the first few moments of speaking with you. If you are not listening then you will miss the golden opportunity to get to the point of the discussion quickly.

To be able to listen carefully you need to turn down your own self talk. It is only when you notice how busy your internal dialogue is that you can you learn to turn it down.

One of the easiest ways to notice how much you are talking to yourself, is to sit down for 10 minutes and start writing everything that comes into your mind. Keep going without editing and notice how your mind flits about from subject to subject.

When you notice how your self talk, you can tell yourself to ‘listen’ or ‘focus’ when communicating with others. Instead of listening to your own internal ‘stuff’ focus and pay attention to what others are saying.

Step Three: Help others get clarity of thought

Often just voicing what we are saying to ourselves gives clarity of thought.

When people say something like “I can’t do this” it is natural to want to respond with “of course you can”. However that type of response creates an opportunity for the person to start listing all the reasons as to why they can’t do this.

More resourceful questions to ask are “what specifically can’t you do?” “What is stopping you?” “What needs to happen for you to be able to this?”

It is impossible to answer these questions without thinking about the answer.

These questions create solution mindsets when possible choices are considered rather than staying focused on a problem.

Step Four: Keep it simple

Why use 100 words when 10 will do? Let people know what you want rather than tell them what you don’t want. The clearer you are about what you want to achieve the easier others will understand.

Have an intention for what outcomes you want from a conversation. If you are not clear about what you are saying then others will quickly become confused.

Step Five: Make it easy for others to talk to you

Be approachable, as people don’t open up in an honest and clear way with people they are not comfortable with. When people are listened to, they feel valued and understood and tend to talk freely.

People like people that are like them. The more you are able to see things from the perspective of others, the more people want to talk to you.

Often in business, it is during informal chats that people open up and let you know what is on their mind. Confidentiality is important, because people only open up to those that they trust.

For more information about Executive Coaching with Fiona and our True Business Leader NLP Programmes and on-line courses visit