This post is part of a series called Coaching Secrets, inspired by my 2-day workshop Coaching Skills for Agile Leadership.
Today I share with you one of the most powerful things I learned in my Co-Active Coaching training courses.
In coaching conversations, people often bring up challenges or issues they have with co-workers.
We can empathize.
We have likely experienced a similar challenge.
We want to offer solutions or advice.
So we start talking about the other person.
We talk about what the other person might be thinking. We try explore the other person’s experience and motivations.
We start talking about what the other person could/ should do differently.
We may even get sucked into colluding with the person we are coaching.
We start to over-identify with the person we are coaching and take on their view of the world and the situation.
But none of this serves the person we are coaching right now in front of us.
Coaching Secret: You Can’t Coach Someone Not in the Room
Coaching is a thought-provoking and creative process that enables a person to make conscious decisions and empowers her to become a leader in her own life.
The only person we can coach is the person right in front of us.
When you shift your focus away from the person you are talking to, the power of coaching is lost.
Instead, help deepen the learning.
Help her recognize she is at choice.
Help her feel empowered. Help her forward the action.
Here are some questions that come from a place of curiosity and may serve her learning and growth:
What is she learning about herself?
If she was responsible for only 2% of the conflict or issue, what would that 2% be?
What is important about this relationship?
What does she want this relationship to be like?
What step can she take to create that possibility?
Who does she need to be to take that step?
What will feel most self-honoring?
Sometimes you will want to sympathize, take sides, and let the person vent. There are times when that may be a valid choice. Just make sure you take a moment to recognize your choice and choose it intentionally given your role, the situation, and the context.
If you want to practice and deepen your coaching skills, join me in Columbus, OH August 21-22 for a 2-day workshop Coaching Skills for Agile Leadership.
Make It Real
Step 1: The next time someone comes to you with an issue or challenge with another person, choose:
- Is this a time to sympathize and take a side?
- Or do you want to take a coaching stance and help this person learn and grow?
Step 2: If you catch yourself colluding or trying to talk about the other person, try these steps:
- Confirm and validate the emotion you are seeing/ hearing/ sensing.
- Pick what seems like the most relevant question (adjust wording as appropriate):
- What do you want?
- What is most important to you right now?
- Take it wherever it needs to go from there. (See Coaching Secret: Follow the aliveness for some tips.)