We all benefit from genuine praise. It motivates and energises. ‘Catching a member of your team doing something right’ and showing immediate sincere appreciation is a competence which you can develop. It takes practice. This applies equally in our business, personal and community lives. And we develop these skills during many of the BEI courses.
Let me tell you a story: Today I ‘caught someone doing something right’ in bringing their ‘touchstones’ into their work lives. I immediately found out who the leader was, called her and told her how much I appreciated her actions.
I’ll set the scene, ‘frame’ the event. I was lying in my hospital bed thinking how fortunate I am - for so many reasons. Scans had excluded suspected serious conditions. I had been given a private ward when it is often almost impossible to get any bed in the hospital. It was peaceful.
The view from my window was exquisite. I enjoyed watching the blue sky and clouds change shape. If I looked down there was some activity in the hospital carpark, but no disturbing sounds. At the centre of my ‘picture’ were two flags waving ‘hello’. The first showed ‘Brand South Africa’ and the other, ‘Brand Netcare’. Through the fence was the busy road with cars and taxis speeding to their destinations.
Across the road were two huge buildings, ‘Natalia’ and ‘The Library’. Both have a special meaning for me as they were designed by the architect who designed our house (for himself) and from whom we bought our home. Between these buildings, in the distance, up in the green hills below Worlds View, I could see our home and I absolutely love our beautiful home which is one of my own ‘touchstones’. Patterns were forming.
Recognising similarities and patterns is important in our lives and especially for coaching to be successful. As ‘integral coaches’, we help clients learn to take their ‘stumbling blocks’ and turn them into ‘stepping stones’. Thus they treat ‘negatives’ as ‘challenges’ which they can consciously learn to use effectively for their own benefit.
One of the techniques I use is asking a BIG question: ‘How can you incorporate more of your ‘touchstones’ into your daily lives’? Through conversation I first help clients to identify those smells, tastes, sights, sounds and feelings that bring out the best in them, make them feel ‘whole’ or ‘really good’. We spend time exploring these factors. Then whatever the ‘issue’ (another term for ‘stumbling block’) facing them, the next question revolves around how to incorporate more ‘touchstones’ in dealing with the ‘stumbling block’? How can we incorporate more of our ‘touchstones’ (those experiences that bring out the best in us) into our work, private and community lives?
So, that sets the scene for the wonderful example I had today at St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. It is Sunday morning and the surgical ward is very quiet as most of the doctors have gone on holiday and there were few scheduled operations this, the week before Christmas. As I lay in bed photographing the beautiful view from my window (please see the photo above), I heard the melodious sounds of gospel singers. I felt great joy. It was wonderful that these professional singers should voluntarily visit hospitals and sing for the patients on a Sunday. I wanted to see who they were, but was confined to bed. I wanted to know if they had possibly produced a CD I could buy for a friend. I lay there hoping they would walk towards my room so that I could see them and thank them personally, but unfortunately they didn’t.
I rang the bell and one of the nurses immediately came to me, but unfortunately the group had completed their singing in our ward. I asked who the professional singers were and was astounded to find that they were the staff in my ward! They gather together to pray early most mornings and where possible burst into spontaneous song. Any of the staff who wish to do so are welcome to join in. And the songs vary from day to day. I asked and was told that ‘Boni’ was the leader so of course I asked that she come and speak to me. What a charming young lady she is! I learnt that she has no formal training in singing but sings in the Catholic Church. She shows great leadership potential, too. Being able to lead a constantly changing group (mostly considerably older than her) in a variety of songs which are different each time takes great skill. The music comes from their hearts. To me this is true ‘soul’ music.
What is our lesson from this? It is wonderful that the staff are able to incorporate singing, one of their ‘touchstones’, an activity they are passionate about, into their work lives. At the same time, the ‘ripple’ effect to their patients is enormous. It also strengthens the bond between the team members (nursing staff). Thank you to Boni for leading today’s singing. I also commend the other singers, too.
So from this story, how can we use these examples to enrich our own lives?
- Firstly, identify your ‘touchstones’. Think of the smells, tastes, sights, sounds and experiences that bring out the best in you – the things that make you feel ‘whole’.
(These nurses are passionate about singing.)
- How can you use these ‘touchstones’ to turn your ‘stumbling blocks’ into ‘stepping stones’?
(The seriousness of their daily work is complemented by the joyous singing which enables them focus and to cope better.)
- How can you use patterns to enhance your functioning?
(The nurses recognise that some staff voluntarily wish to join them in prayer followed by singing. They notice a pattern in that this activity gives them a good start to their long hours of duty.)
- How can you incorporate more of your ‘touchstones’ into all aspects of your life?
(The nurses sing at work, at a specific and appropriate time, they also sing at home and they sing at their churches or other places of worship.)
- What can you do to ‘catch people doing something right’ and sincerely ‘polish them?
(I immediately rang the bell for a nurse, found out who the leader was, invited her to come to my bedside and throughout the day asked and commended any of the other nurses who had been involved in the singing. I also posted this article on my website, mentioned my experience in my evaluation on being discharged and sent a copy of this article to the management team.)
You’ll find another article on the topic of ‘Catch some-one doing something right’ on our website.