How is a coaching conversation different to your norm?
Well, for starters, it’s one hour dedicated to you. Solely to you.
When was the last time you had that?
Your GP gives you 7 minutes of their time dedicated to you, but with the mutual understanding that the chat will be about health or lack of. It’s not the time to go into your dreams and aspirations.
Chats with friends last much longer, sure. But is it an hour dedicated wholly to you?
Without feeling like you’ve taken too much of their time, and need to divert attention:
“...but enough about me – how about you?”
There’s the turn-taking, and then there’s also the minimalizing of problems for fear of making the conversation too heavy:
“…it’s been rough, I’m not really sure what to do next…..but it’s ok, I’m sure I’ll figure it out, don’t worry about me…how was your holiday?”
And if it does go deep and you do the unthinkable and show emotions through tears, then what? Fear of judgment, embarrassment…
Family know you, you can talk to them surely? Well, that’s the problem. They know you. Unknowingly they will not offer you suggestions because for example they remember you tried it when you were 12 and didn’t like it. Plus let’s not forget that their primary job at the beginning of your life was to keep you alive. When you were zooming across the floor on crawl speed 60mph towards a sharp edge, they saved you. That was their job. So they’ve been conditioned to keep you from harm’s way and so encouraging risk-taking may not be in their repertoire for you.
You need a space you know you won’t be judged in no matter what happens. You need a stranger, someone who doesn’t know your history, who hasn’t assumed your limitations and preferences. Someone who listens, really listens. Not just to the words, but to the emotions behind the words, to what’s not said, and with no agenda.
Most of the conversations we have, we listen with the intent to respond. You listen to the first half of the story, up until it triggers a memory of yours and then you keep that in your mind, waiting until the pause so you can interject with your story which you think is better and funnier anyway.
Coaches come from a place of curiosity rather than judgment or attachment to our own point of view. And you really feel when you’re not being judged, and the person is listening and eager to explore your world with you.
So if you haven’t had a coaching conversation, then treat yourself – get in touch.
Otherwise, here’s a little exercise to train yourself in to really open up conversations
A coaching tip
It’s a conversation, so you need to grab an unsuspecting ally. Pick a topic, and then you ask them questions about that topic for 5 minutes. Only one rule – you can’t ask closed questions, you have to stick to open questions.
Closed Qs – these are ones that can be answered with a yes or no:
Did you go away this Christmas?
Have you been there before?
Open Qs – these are the thought-provoking beauts, they get you longer responses:
What was the most moving point of your trip?
How has it changed you?
Harder than it seems. Let me know how you get on!