Sunday, 17 November 2013

Coaching- Holding the Space of Exploration and Discovery*

In transformational and life coaching subjects, I realized that holding the space of Exploration and Discovery for Client works wonders.

Coaching process becomes an incredible journey when Coach invites Client to "see", "explore", "feel" and "describe" the entire mindscape- the process becomes much more dynamic and engaging.

In my personal experience, I find myself becoming less attached to the "Outcome" oriented coaching.

Rather, holding Exploration and Discovery space for the Client is fascinating as Client becomes much more mindful, alert and both Coach and Client find operating with exalted intuition. Client invariably discovers something deeper and much more profound - if only the temptation of achieving "Result" or "Outcome" is not prematurely brought into the process.

I’d like to present a coaching situation and coaching dialogue. It was a great learning and fascinating experience for me as a Coach.

Alex* is in his late-thirties and works as a head of business development function in mid-sized Media & Communications Company. Life has not been easy for Alex as for last 7 years or so, as he has been going through troubled relationships at personal and  work front. He is a tenacious person and determined to transform his life through various endeavors and thus began our coaching relationship.

Coach: What would you like to discuss today?

Alex: People do not understand me; these days they all want to understand and conclude the way it suits them. I am really sick and tired of it.

Coach: So, what is the agenda Alex?

Alex: I want to discuss why people don’t listen to me.

Coach: I hear you say that you want to discuss why people do not listen to you. What is it about Alex? It is about all the  ‘people in your life’ or something else?

Alex: [after a long pause) I guess it must be something to do with my attitude or  my style.

Coach: How would you like to start?  

Alex: Let me tell what happened in a client meeting. I was making a point to this client and after sometime, he (client) simply got up and said “you are not even willing to listen to what I am saying…it is futile to discuss further...” and he walked away abruptly. I only wanted to help and give solution...but he simply has an attitude of..

Coach: (firmly interrupts) Thanks Alex-I do not see point in discussing your Client- if I may invite you to recollect another situation.

Alex: Yes, I am not in great terms with my girlfriend anymore. We were discussing about possibility of marriage for last several months. During our last discussion she suddenly flared up and said “forget just don’t want to understand...”

At this moment Alex suddenly stopped and became reflective.

Coach: What did you see Alex?

Alex: I see a pattern. People invariably are telling me something...but I don’t listen- I always try to push my view. Many times they give all the cues…all the answers...but I guess I refuse to listen.

 Coach: What makes you not listen to them?

Alex: It makes me feel weak- it makes feel powerless. I feel if I listen to them, then they would get what they want out of me- and take my advantage.

{Silence- Coach held the space of silence yet remaining attentive to Alex.}

Alex after some time made an eye contact with the coach.

Coach: What would you like to do Alex?

Alex: I guess I need to improve my listening skills. I need to practice my listening skills.

Coach: How would you describe the quality of your listening with yourself?

Alex: (after a long pause)- I guess I have been avoiding listening to my inner voice.

Coach: May I invite you to start practicing your listening skills with yourself?

Alex: (tentatively) Ok…let me try.

Coach: Alex, I would invite you to close your eyes- be aware of your aware of your aware of the point of stillness within yourself.

(After a few minutes)

Alex, what to do you hear?

Alex: I hear noise- I do not know what exactly it is.

Coach: What do you see?

Alex: I see a skinny man with sharp features- he’s looking at me with suspicion.

Coach: Would you like to tell him something?

Alex: Yes, I want to tell him that I’d listen to people carefully- before making a point.

That man is saying something.

Coach: What do you hear?

Alex: He is yelling…”Are you crazy? They will just kill you…they will just run you over.”    

Coach: I’d invite you to listen to him deeply.

Alex: I am getting uncomfortable...but let me try

[After about five minutes of silence]

Alex: He is saying the same thing…but that energy has gone down.

Coach: And how are you feeling now?

Alex: I feel some kind of a space- I feel less tensed.

Coach: Would you like to say something to that man?

[Long silence]

Alex: I put my hand around his shoulder and told him…”look, things will be fine. There should be a different way in life now...and I am confident we both would be fine”.

Coach: Alex, I invite you to give all your attention to what he is saying.

Alex again went into a deep silence.

Alex: He is much more relaxed now. His face his softer and wants to try it out.

Coach: What are the next steps Alex?

Alex: I would like to listen to my team members more- would explain to one of them whom I trust that I consciously want to listen and understand first. And request her to give me regular feedback on how am I doing.

I also want to discuss this client with my boss and listen to what he wants to say.

Coach: I once again invite you to bring your awareness on your body…your breath...your muscles….your posture.

Alex: I feel lighter...but I a am also tired; want to sleep now.

-          We concluded the coaching session.

In the next session, Alex reported that after the previous session, he slept for several hours and he felt extremely relaxed and peaceful during the sleep; something that he had not experienced for a long time.

He also shared his new listening approach and positive changes that he’s noticing in people’s reactions towards him.

  This was a multi-layered coaching experience with many insights. Holding on to the space of exploration and discovery, without getting worried whether we are getting into ‘therapy’ realm worked well- in fact, that proved to be key for the successful outcome of that coaching session.

-          Rajesh

 (* This article is part of ‘Chronicles of a Coach’ series. ‘Chronicles of a Coach’ series is intended to serve coaches, leaders & managers who have coaching as part of their professional responsibility, and also individuals who are curious about what coaching is and what coaching can do. Coaching subject, situation and coaching conversation is real; identity of the client is however changed completely to protect confidentiality and privacy.)

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful indeed ! This article has helped me understand too many things for my own self ! I am sure others would have had their take as well ..:)

    Thanks for sharing !