I am really very sorry

I'm sorry

Yes, I'm really sorry, but I threw in a 'red herring' in my last blog article, 'Driving Lessons Must Be Client-Centred'. I hope your blood pressure didn't go too high? But, for all that, I only received one email expressing disappointment with the phrase, 'probably the indie'.

So why did I use this apparently ill-considered phrase? Well, first of all, instructors who take a pride in their own appearance, and the appearance of their cars, can be seen as a reflection of their care which they also give in good customer service. Something to shout about in your marketing - I take a pride...

Secondly, this phrase, thrown in as it was within the copy, entices the reader to make assumptions about the author which, if left unchallenged, could have lasting damage. You will also have seen, at the end of the blog, the repetition of 'listening carefully to the learner'. However, the real skill in listening is the ability to hear. You need to hear those little words or phrases that pop up, barely noticed, within the conversation. More often than not these words will be emotion related, such as 'no confidence', 'nervous', 'needs to be right', 'shouted', 'get it wrong', but there are other, often more subtle clues to something else going on that you need to draw attention to or challenge. In this respect, I had anticipated a torrent of emails from you but I only got one. Did you notice the phrase (did you 'hear' it)? Did you notice it, not agree with it but didn't think it important enough to comment? Or did you notice it, vehemently disagree with it but didn't think it worth the time to comment? 

How many of these apparently unimportant words are you ignoring on a daily basis from your pupils? Listen for words and phrases appearing out of the blue, almost imperceptibly, like the phrase I used. They could have a lot of significance relating to their thoughts, feelings and beliefs, which in turn lead to attitude. Picking up on these words, 'hearing' them early on, could allow you to bring those feelings and beliefs into the open and then guide the learner to see things differently:

"Jackie, I notice you said, 'probably the indie'. What leads you to that belief?"
"Every time I've been told by a pupil their instructor's car was a mess inside, they were with an independent"
"So do you get lots of learners who've had lessons with franchised instructors, AA, Red etc?"
"No I don't"
"So how can you be sure that franchised instructors always keep their cars clean?"
"I suppose I can't really"
"So are you still sure the dirty car was the independent instructor?"
"No I'm not. I suppose that was a very unfair comment really"
"Yes, perhaps it was. So how might you think differently next time, if this happened again?"
"Oh, I would be more open-minded and not make such a snap judgement" 

A coaching conversation can be used to challenge, and hopefully change beliefs as well as behaviour. 'Listening carefully to your learner' and hearing those hidden beliefs, is a skill worth the effort it takes to develop because you will find it helpful in ALL your relationships, work, social, family and friends.


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