7 Things Business People Can Learn from Therapists

In this article we talk about what business can learn from therapists. Read on to understand the intersection between Therapy and Business. Discover the skills that can make your team more connected, trusting, productive and engaged.

I’ve often thought over the course of my career that therapists have a lot to learn from business. I’ve also thought that corporate Australia has a lot to learn from those that help people for a living. I have been lucky enough to spend significant time in both industries as a trainer and coach. My background as an occupational therapist and interest in behavioural psychology, provides insights into how these disciplines can learn from each other to grow and thrive.

What can Business People learn from Therapists?

If you work in big business you might think you have nothing to learn from therapists. Or that their skills are not relevant to your industry or useful. You will be surprised! Their people skills, communication skills, problem solving and process building abilities are useful to examine.

I have found in my experience that the mindset of a business person (generally speaking of course!) is one that tends to be motivated by achieving productivity and financial outcomes and often doing more with less. It can be refreshing to challenge this mindset with learnings from outside their industry.

Here’s what you could learn and apply to your business:

1. The power of the “soft skills” in getting people on board with your goals.

The skills that therapists build in communication, relationship management and helping people feel valued and heard are very useful in business. I often find that business is a bit like a big machine, needing all of the cogs in the wheel to be humming along together to run. All parts are important and necessary, they just play a different role. If you treat everyone with respect you build trust. That in turn makes people want to help and contribute and not just turn up because they have to for the pay cheque.

2. Seeing the person behind the problem

Therapists have a great ability to separate the person from the problem. They understand that human beings can’t always change the person that they are. Therapists understand that often they need to accept the person where they are currently at, working to solve the problem and not to solve the person.

3. Person first task second

Engaging with people in a human and caring way will always get a better result. Understanding who they are and what makes them tick builds trust and community. This in turn builds productivity.

4. The power of embedding rituals in everyday routines

Particularly in Early Childhood intervention, one of the powerful strategies regularly used relates to embedding repeatable rituals in everyday routines. Therapists understand that practice builds skills. In the workplace this might be a cultural ritual, something as simple as greeting everyone with eye contact and saying hello in the morning. Or perhaps, embedding discussions relating to values on team meeting agendas.

5. Task analysis – breaking down tasks into component parts and creating realistic goals

This is a useful exercise when you are looking for process or productivity improvements. It helps uncover bottle necks and obstacles. The goal setting also helps build a sense of achievement for a team member.

6. Getting curious and listening to connect

When you listen to connect you actively listen without judgement. This helps to build teams that have trust and fosters growth. People like to be heard and feel like their opinions are respected.

Getting curious relates to understanding that you are not all knowing in every situation. Even if you have been at your workplace the longest and are the most senior person there! If you stay open to other people’s thoughts and opinions, this helps trigger innovation. Ask open (what and how) questions of the people around you – what makes you feel this way? What is your perspective of this situation?

7. The art of capacity building

In a therapeutic environment, a therapist’s aim is not necessarily to “fix” the child. It is to coach the parent so that they learn what to do to support their child to learn and grow within the context of their broader family needs. Therapists work in partnership with parents, coaching them to find ways to motivate the child to action. It may also involve manipulating the child’s environment, which can more intuitively foster the desired behaviour change.

Many of my coaching conversations relating to workplace culture involve bringing understanding to leaders about the human side of getting someone on board the business journey.

In some cases, internal politics and fear of not looking good, prevents people from being authentic at work. People who are not behaving in alignment with their values, or being authentic in how they show up, are generally far more stressed and less productive.

When business people have the opportunity to learn the coaching and communication skills that therapists have developed, it is possible for them to attain unique insights into communication, people skills and some transferrable tricks to embed rituals and create capacity. When I have seen them implemented, the productivity and engagement gains are obvious.

Do you need help building skills for your team? Do they need a more human, trusting and connected approach? Ask about our tailored training for your team, where we can help you bring your team together to help your organisation thrive. It is powerful knowledge. Contact me to find out more and to discuss your specific requirements.

Hi there! I’m Jacqui Snider and I’m here to help you and your business grow and flourish.

As an Occupational Therapist and Workplace Culture Coach and Trainer, I am passionate about helping individuals and organisations develop better home and workplace practices that everyone enjoys being part of. With more than 35 years of coaching experience, I have personally coached and trained in excess of 350 leaders, bringing about transformational change in both individuals and teams.

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