Five things you can do to be more coachable

The Fury girls show off their new logo–Clare is lying down in front

It’s Wednesday evening and I’m sitting in the stands at the arena watching another one of Clare’s hockey practices. Her Frontenac Fury team are doing passing and shooting drills on the ice. The kids soak up every direction, instruction and piece of advice of the coaches.

Children are highly coachable. They are desperate to learn, try new things, and improve. As the season goes on, it’s incredible to see the progress they make as they practice and hone their skills and gel as a team.

Why is it as adults we lose some of this willingness to accept counsel and guidance to help us improve?

The other day, I was talking with a co-worker about someone we work with. The person we were talking about is highly intelligent, skilled and knows their job inside and out. But sometimes they can come across as harsh, blunt and unfeeling towards others and it can create friction in meetings.

My co-worker asked, since I knew this person better, whether they would be open to me sharing this feedback? I thought about it, but I concluded that this person wasn’t highly coachable, and instead of helping the situation, it might make matters worse.

As a people leader, I can tell you one of the things I look for and value most in people is whether they are coachable. Whether they are willing to take constructive feedback, advice and counsel, and apply it to learn, grow and ultimately improve their performance. This to me is far more important that the skills and knowledge they bring to the table.

Journalism school and years of playing team sports helped me be open to feedback and criticism. In fact in my role now, I get nervous if someone returns my copy to me with no changes, because I think it means they never read it! But I know just as much as the next person there is much more I could be doing to be more open to constructive feedback to improve my performance. Often it’s emotion that gets in the way of positive coaching.

Here are five things you can do to be more coachable

  1. Be open to trying things a new way. Focus on the benefits of the new approach, instead of what could go wrong, then commit to doing it the new way and see what happens.
  2. Check your emotion at the door and focus on the outcome or goal you are trying to achieve.
  3. Be humble and admit when you are wrong. How can you improve if you are never wrong?”
  4. Take initiative to learn or practice a new skill on your own.
  5. Remind yourself that the person giving the feedback is only trying to help. If you know it comes from a good place, you will be far more likely to be receptive to the feedback.

Every great writer has an editor. Every great athlete has a coach. This week’s #HappyAct is to be aware of how you respond to feedback and try to be more coachable. You’ll feel more positive about how you accepted the feedback and for the positive change and growth you experienced by being open to new approaches.

Develop your emotional intelligence

EQI’ve been reading a lot about emotional intelligence lately. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand and manage emotions. Studies show that people with high emotional intelligence have better mental health overall, higher job performance and satisfaction, and are strong leaders.

While I haven’t read enough about emotional intelligence to know for sure, it seems safe to reason that people who are emotionally intelligent are also happier. If you can recognize, understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of those around you, you are far more likely to be able to connect with people and be happy with who you are.

The article, 13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People, lists thirteen habits of people who are emotionally intelligent that make them likeable. You can read the full article—it’s quite interesting, but for the purpose of what makes you happy, I will focus on these seven:

  • Be curious and ask questions—it shows you care, but it also pays off in dividends in terms of learning new things, understanding, and acceptance
  • Be genuine: it will make you feel confident and instill trust in others
  • Be open-minded and don’t pass judgment
  • Be consistent—people want to know what to expect from you
  • Balance passion with fun—be serious when serious is called for, but don’t be afraid to have fun
  • Use positive body language and words. Remember “how you say something can be more important than what you say” or in the words of mother Maya, people won’t remember what you say or do, but they will remember how you make them feel
  • Smile and greet people by name

Here’s the good news: we all have the capability to build our emotional intelligence. This week’s #HappyAct is to raise your emotional IQ. How well did you listen to others? Did you smile and greet people by name? Were you consistent and open-minded? Have a great week everyone.