Research Paper By Mohana Kotian
(Transformational Coaching, INDIA)
(Mark Twain quotes)
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Introduction to Case Study
This case study is about a woman who, having lived a life of uncertainty and loneliness, decided to “sail away from the safe harbor” and go within herself to explore and discover new vistas of her own self !!
Anita (name changed) comes from a middle class family in Mumbai. Throughout her 22 years, she has had a sheltered, protected upbringing where studies has been the focus. All through her school life, she had been a top scorer. In school, she was surrounded by fellow students who she have been her neighbours and hence she had grown up with them. Having known them since she was a child, and having been a top scorer, she had always been paid attention by her teachers, friends, family, et al. Thus, the need for learning the skill of developing and maintaining friendships was never felt by Anita.
However, after completing her 10th grade, she entered college. In college, she found, she was just one among many. There were students who were better scorers in studies. She was, thus, just another student.
No one paid any attention to anyone. If you wanted to be friends, you had to make the effort. After the initial shock, she started to try and make friends but found she was unable to as she did not know what to talk, sometimes how to talk or at times just felt really shy. The result was that her friends gave her feedback which she found really hurtful and so she just gave up on such friendships. She was slowly left with no friends and no support in college.
The result of this was her self esteem went for a toss, her belief that she was the best, took a bad hit and she started getting depressed. She did very badly in her 12th grade. She had wanted to do her Engineering and with such a low score, she only got a college out of Mumbai.
Her low score in 12th grade was a huge shock to her and her family. She realised she needed to pull her act together and though she was not able to learn the skills of developing relationships through Engineering, she did manage to get top scores.
She finished her graduation in Engineering and was able to join a good MNC. This Company was putting her through an induction programme that was a combination of technical and soft skills training and she was looking forward to the same.
When I first met Anita, she seemed to be a quiet, shy, nervous kind of woman. Having seen her scores, I was aware that she was a top scorer. When she started talking in class, I also found her to be extremely intelligent. What surprised me was her low level of self confidence.
During our first meeting, I understood her complete background, what made her feel extremely depressed, what stopped her from opening up with people and what she wanted to achieve out of our sessions.
Goals set by Anita
- To understand what made people reluctant to connect with her
- To know how she could improve her self confidence
- To regain her original, positive, fun-filled personality
The Coaching Process and competencies / tools used
The entire process took 3 months to complete, during which time, I had 6 sessions with Anita.
The tools that I found worked very well was powerful questioning, powerful listening, acknowledging Anita for her successes (small and big), using the power tools, responding vs reacting, responsibility vs blame and reframing perspectives and most of the coaching skills like looking at underlying beliefs.
Given below is an account of how Anita’s transformation process took place :
1. How do I connect better with people?
For a deeper understanding of connect, we started by looking at what prevented Anita from opening up and talking to people. The conversation made her aware of her fears of being ridiculed for not having anything sensible to talk about.
She decided to take the action of starting to connect with her fellow colleagues in the training session. She chose a buddy who would help provide a safe space for her to open up and communicate.
The result was by the end of 3 months, she had made more friends than she had managed to in her 6 years of college !! She also realised very powerfully that it was her underlying belief (because of one or two episodes in the past) that people would ridicule her. And challenging that belief really excited her when she found people responding to her positively when she spoke to them.
2. How do I improve my self-confidence?
Anita discovered through conversations that her low self-confidence was on account of the self-doubts that she had about herself and her constant fear of “What if?” She found when someone provided feedback, she was unable to take responsibility or question, but resorted to blaming both the other person and then herself.