The Benefit of Becoming More Sensory Aware
In calibrating for distinctions we are going to be using our sensory skills to notice the details and information being presented. As we gather this information it is important to pay attention to sensory-based descriptions. This will keep us from “mind-reading” or “hallucinating” or interpreting through emotional responses and assumptions.
Sensory-based information is describing what is actually existing behaviorally and environmentally, rather than the generalities of emotion.
For example: “She must be really mad at me!” would become, “I haven’t received a phone call for three days from her and I wonder what has happened.” Or, “I just know she’s mad at me.” becomes “The look on her face has a furrowed brow, piercing eyes and clenched teeth, and her breathing is shallow and rapid.” And, she could be mad at someone else!
The benefit of becoming more and more sensory aware is that we notice finer distinctions of information and we let go of assumptions and mind-reading that could lead us to delete, distort or generalize important information.
Coaching Exercise for Sensory Acuity:
Observe several TV talk shows, political debates or other shows of this type. Describe what you see happening using sensory-based language.
- Judgmental language: “The candidate was argumentative.” (a mind-read)
- Sensory-based language: “The candidate’s voice was loud. His sentences were short and each sentence began with ‘No, but…’ He jumped into the conversation and interrupted the host. He was continuously shaking his head from side to side, while he rolled his eyes upward and sighed deeply when the other candidate was speaking.”
As you increase your objectivity and calibration skills, you become better at modeling and detecting patterns. The value of having this expertise is that you can stay with current reality and not get caught up in opinion, judgment and overgeneralizations.
Calibration Skill Drills
Note: The purpose of a skill drill is to build on success and to increase sensory awareness and familiarity with a new skill. In the following drills, the person who is being calibrated should first make a change that is obvious enough for the person closing their eyes to notice. Each time the person is successful, make the next change more subtle, and always end the skill drill on a successful calibration.
The following are behavioral drills to give you detailed practice in increasing your sensory awareness and acuity. Invite a friend to assist you in learning these skills.
Visual Acuity – Purpose: Taking in information available visually, increasing awareness and knowing what to do with the information noticed.
- Close your eyes.
- Have your partner to strike a pose.
- Open your eyes and take a “snapshot” of them. Visually notice what you see – using ‘soft focus’ (relax and take in overall picture).
- Close your eyes.
- Have your partner slightly alter their posture, facial expression, or other visual change.
- Open your eyes again and quickly assess what difference you notice. Describe what you notice.
- Partner gives feedback as to accuracy.
- Repeat several times, each time making the distinctions more subtle to really stretch your acuity for detailed awareness.
Auditory Acuity – Purpose: Listening for rhythm, tempo, pitch, volume, and other distinctions of the auditory presentation. This is great for establishing rapport in telephone conversations.
- Sit or stand back to back with your friend. Ask them to say a short phrase such as, “Hello, my name is (state name) and I live in (state town or state)”
- As closely as possible, repeat their phrase exactly. Paying particular attention to the non-verbal delivery of voice tone, tempo, pitch, and volume.
- Receive feedback as to how closely they feel you were matching.
- Repeat steps 1 through 3 until the match is as close as possible.
For a stretch: Listen to their statement again, then respond with your own word content, while still matching their rhythm, pitch, tempo, etc.
The value of using sensory-based information is that it is measurable and verifiable and that it keeps us from getting pulled off track by our filters and generalities.
This article was written by Al Sargent and Marilyn Sargent of Success Design International. They are the authors of the Spencer Institute’s Life Strategies Coach Certification and the Results Coach Certification.
If you found this article helpful, you will want to click over it and get more information on how to use this in a coaching setting. For more information on Al and Marilyn, visit www.repoweryourlife.com