Switching Off


switching off

Dictionary definition for switching off:

“Cease to pay attention.”


I want to be able to switch off; is a common statement from my clients as they unravel what is holding them back from doing more of what they love.

In this article I want to explore:

  • What does it mean to switch off?
  • Why do you need to learn how to do it?
  • The cost of not switching off
  • Inside stories
  • Next steps

Continue reading Switching Off

Managing Yourself Through Grief

Managing yourself through griefLoss and grief are part of life; be it the death of loved ones or loss of business they evoke emotions in us all, to varying degrees. How we listen to and support each other will often determine how well we work, learn and live with those that matter to us.

When my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer in September 2006, work was a safe place. I did tell my District Manager because she needed to know and she was super supportive but I asked that my team not be told. I didn’t want people to ask if I was okay. I obviously was not okay and talking about it did not make me feel better.

What I needed was time and space to focus on things I could have a positive impact on and things that made me feel good.  I was probably the most effective manager and parent at the time. I would switch from roles effortlessly. I would show up and listen and be with my mum; rock up for my team meetings with lots of ideas and play with my children with a smile. I had it all together or so I thought. My mum passed away 30th Nov 2006.  Continue reading Managing Yourself Through Grief

Why Am I So Sensitive To Criticism?

Why Am I So Sensitive To Criticism?As a listening skills coach and trainer I work with my clients to be able to listen to all kinds of information in a way that works for both the listener and the speaker.

One of the most challenging things to hear is when someone is criticising you personally and sometimes as challenging is when they are criticising themselves.

In this article I want to look at why that is. Continue reading Why Am I So Sensitive To Criticism?

Guilt Free Living

Guilt Free LivingI have been experimenting this past couple of weeks with listening to the emotion of guilt as a warning light. I have noticed that I feel guilty when I don’t do what feels right to me and I feel guilty when I don’t live up to what I perceive to be other people’s expectations. This difference was highlighted and clarified more as I read the book – Journey Through The Guilt Trip – by Lee Lam who talks about guilt that moves and guilt that glues.

Guilt that moves

When I listen, the guilt that is triggered because it doesn’t feel right for me is, as Lee suggests, guilt that moves. I am moved to take action to correct things. This is because the guilt is a result of my own core values or as she refers to them as my personal code being broken. Continue reading Guilt Free Living

Why Do I Hate The Question – What Do You Do?

Why Do I Hate The Question - What Do You Do?











One of the questions I and many others seem to hate is the question; What do you do?

Over the years I have been curious about why certain questions trigger a clear and concise answer whilst others send the recipient into a state of panic.

For me this question used to bring about an instant feeling of shame, frustration and embarrassment.

I now know that is because my system was anticipating a repeat experience of what had happened before. That all too familiar sinking feeling inside, as I started to speak and the blank and disinterested expression drifted over my questioner’s face. Almost as quickly as the words were out I could see that they were not landing and so I changed tact; changed language and still nothing; nada and so I would continue to incompetently meander the many lanes of my life experience and all that 30 years has taught me about motivating change …only to be left hanging.

Only in reality this actual person didn’t respond in that way; they had said very kindly that was interesting and that everyone needs my services. But I am not able to hear this fully because my system has decided to shut down and go on defense because of my past experience.

How to ask good questions?

It is interesting when I work with clients and they say things like; “I hate that question.” or “I was dreading you asking me ‘those’ questions.

It was comments like this that made me curious about what was happening for them in that moment and what kind of question would be a good question for them right?

Sometimes I just say and when you hate that question what kind of question would you like to me ask or when you hate that question what would you like to have happen? Sometimes I just sit and wait and notice what happens next?

Sometimes another question is offered up and sometimes space and time to think is all that was needed.

Every time I am in conversation with someone I am calibrating which questions work for this person in this moment and it can and does change even as we speak. One minute they hate a question and next they love it. (Usually when they know the answer)

And I am no different, so I am always curious about questions I find uncomfortable and I am learning that I don’t have to answer all of them and that there is great value in understanding why a question triggers me.

Getting Permission To Ask Questions

When I first learned the question “What would you like to have happen? ” I loved it. I had not really asked myself what I wanted or been asked it and although the answer did not flow I loved the feeling clarity gave me when I had a solution.

This question for me is the first step to clarity and solution and I love clarity.

So I embrace the question no matter how uncomfortable it is at first to find the answer because I know how I will feel post thinking; reflecting and or talking.

When I came out of training I was so excited by this new feeling I wanted my friends and family to feel it too.

I wanted them to know themselves well and I wanted to know them but turns out that asking questions without permission doesn’t go down too well.

And that people need time to have their story of pain and frustration heard before they are ready to move on to solution and that I had to learn patience and tolerance to listen to the problem for longer than I was naturally comfortable with.

Which is when I started to transition from Strength and Solution Detective to The Listening Detective. I learned the solution for some was simply to be heard. They didn’t want to be fixed or made to feel better they needed a moment to feel the pain; the disappointment and for the emotion to be expressed.

And some simply don’t like questions that they cannot answer instantly with confidence because they think they will be judged and others love a question that challenges their thinking and there have been many variations in between.

The most important defining difference was permission to ask questions.

What I was forgetting is that my clients had paid me to ask questions and when I went on training we had all paid to learn how to ask good questions and listen better so we by default had permission.

Now I clarify my intention and say I have some questions that may or may not give you some insight; Are you happy for me to ask you some questions? If they say no I have to be okay with both them and I not knowing.

Questions love or hate them?

Having explored this in detail with many clients and explored myself why I like some questions and not others I discovered that we each have our own definition of what is a good question which is why we model and explore as a group how to ask good questions on our 3 day retreat Motivate Manage or mentor. (Next retreat is 25th -27th Oct)

If you know you get really uncomfortable answering questions one to one or in groups then it is likely it will impact your relationships, your decisions and your overall success and happiness. We each have a different relationship with questions and our critic has it’s own story and then we have those emotional triggers that we just can’t seem to control that result in our blushing, stuttering or in my case waffling.

Question of the week

This week I noticed a sense of relief as I finally had an answer to the question:

What do you do?

Up to this point that question would fill me with dread and I always hated the torrid of verbal diarrhea that poured out of my mouth because I felt that I just could not get myself understood, and that meant I couldn’t help as many people as I wanted to.

I know that 10,000 people woke today with private tears and frustration because a boss said you need to speak up more or you need more confidence and yet they weren’t able to ask the all important questions to gain clarity of what defines more and what is their definition of confidence?


I break down the barriers that prevent individuals from being heard and understood so that they can live with clarity and confidence in themselves and their decisions.

I would love your feedback – does this response resonate with what you think I do? Do you think I have nailed it? Is there anything missing?

When we are on our own or in groups questions are asked and we either choose to respond or we don’t and whatever we decide has an impact on us and those that matter to our success and happiness. I don’t want you or anyone you know ever to feel stuck, isolated and on their own with a problem when a change in style of listening could be all they need to have the confidence to listen to and trust their own inner wisdom.

And please let me know what do you do?

Do you love or hate that questions?

Kind Regards


The Listening Detective (aka The Strength and Solution Detective)
For A Better Perspective Call The Listening Detective

Sheryl Andrews – The Listening Detective

Founder of Step by Step Listening, Sheryl Andrews has always been keen to create space where other people felt safe to speak their truth no matter what that was. She is well known for her ability to motivate, manage and mentor others through change and loves nothing more than helping others feel heard understood and of value by training them in the art of non-judgmental listening and practical ways to turn overwhelm and frustration into a clarity and confidence.

But what many didn’t know is that in private behind closed doors she was not always able to do that for herself, she was fearful of upsetting others and often did not ask for her own needs to be met. She was no stranger to lapses in self- belief and an overwhelming sense of not being good enough. A mother of a blended family of 5, a business owner and friend she was often surrounded by people who cared about her but she found it hard to ask for help. That was until she hit crisis point and found herself on the floor sobbing wondering why she could help others but couldn’t help herself. That day her husband asked her what she would tell her clients to do. The Solution was to attend her own programmes and step by step learn to take her own advice. That was back in 2011 and now she continues to be someone that is consistently walking her talk. Sheryl says; “Change is always uncomfortable and our system naturally resists it; the solution is not avoiding change; but learning to embrace it and developing the right support network to get you through it”

At Step by Step Listening we are not always the right support and sometimes the first step is understanding what you want; what you don’t want and what kind of resource or support you need right now.

Our goal is to leave you with clarity and confidence in yourself, your decision and your next best step for now.

We runs retreats, one to one coaching and online group coaching course to suit every budget; style of learning and location. Space and time to gain clarity, focus and direction whilst developing your ability to listen to yourself and others without judgement or assumption.

For regular updates and examples of how listening skills can resource you to manage yourself, time and others through change check out Free Success without stress newsletter


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Becoming A Better NetWorker

Becoming a better networker











Whether you are networking online or offline it can bring with it so many challenges when it comes to communicating and getting yourself heard and understood.

For those of us with a more sensitive disposition the constant rejection and lack of acknowledgement can take it’s toll.

Do you find yourself writing status and then editing and re writing posts worried about how they will be taken?

Do you speak at networking events and then spend the rest of the day berating  yourself for not being clear enough; confident enough or good enough?

I want you to know that you are not alone and I feel like that too. Yep even now; I get the odd wobble. Sometimes my critic and my emotional buttons get the better of me and I lose confidence to speak. Continue reading Becoming A Better NetWorker

I Just Can’t Find The Words

I Just Can’t Find The Words











One of the hardest things to articulate, can be to express how we feel.

Emotions can be like waves lapping gentle against the shore and they can be like a tsunami crashing and pushing everything else out of the way and then they can be this indescribable sensation that makes us behave that doesn’t make sense of who we are or who we want to be.

Clean Language as a questioning technique gives you access to questions that help you pay attention to those sensations by asking questions like; Where is that feeling? Does that feeling have a shape or size? Is that feeling inside or outside? That feeling is like what? Continue reading I Just Can’t Find The Words

I Just Don’t Want To Talk About It

I Just Don’t Want To Talk About It











We often hear people say it is good to talk; but sometimes it really isn’t. Sometimes it is best for us to take time to clarify our thoughts before we speak and yet so many tell us to talk about how we feel. Some like me talk to think; and others think to talk.

External processors

For the external processors like me it is often quite useful to talk out what we are thinking but the person listening needs to have a thick skin. They need to be able to listen to things without taking them personally. They need to be able to listen without judging that I am waffling and not getting to the point fast enough or complaining that what I am saying makes no sense. I am not talking for you to understand; I am talking for me to do understand. I am quite often metaphorically sorting through my thoughts and all I need is for someone to ask questions and repeat back something I have said to help me notice what I am actually saying. But it doesn’t work to interrupt and correct me. Continue reading I Just Don’t Want To Talk About It

Healing My Heart

Healing My Heart







My painting of comfort and joy

Today is a quiet day for me. My heart feels so much better already and I am now mentally prepared to hear whatever the Dr’s have to say. I feel okay. I am no longer scared I now see hospital and their teams as part of my support network. Thank you to everyone who stepped forward and helped.

Thank you to everyone who stepped back and gave me space. 
I know it wasn’t easy for many of you as many would have wanted to be able to ‘do’ something and yet your doing nothing was your something. It gave me space and time to be.

Continue reading Healing My Heart

My Heart Is Broken

My Heart Is Broken











For those that don’t know yet I was recently told that the bottom of my heart is not working properly; it is not opening fully. Whilst I know the medical profession are talking about the ‘physical’ heart and I am working with them to heal that on a physical level; by resting, changing my food and lifestyle.

I am also being curious about what am I not opening up my heart to right now or what or who am I holding in my heart right now that is causing this heaviness. Or what am I opening my heart to that could damage it; both physically and emotionally. I am really listening to what my body and heart are trying to tell me that I am not hearing or didn’t hear? In this moment I am so grateful for knowing what kind of listening I need and who is best to provide it and to be able to ask for the support I need in this moment. Continue reading My Heart Is Broken