Coaching Case Study By Loren De Feo
(Life Coach, ITALY)
Who are the main players in this case study
The main players in this case study are myself, as the coach, and a client, who also happens to be a coach, I will call her Melly and she is the main player.
What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to?
Melly is self-employed career coach, who is married with two young children.
She wanted me to support her in desire to have a dog. She said she having a dog has been on her mind for the last few years, however it recently came up again after her trip to her home country. Melly called me to support her, because she knows her husband is not very keen on having a dog, and she wanted to understand which approach would be the best in order to discuss the possibility of having a dog with her husband. She believes that coaching can help her manage her thoughts and discover any angles that she didn’t think about before, including assessing if this is the right decision for herself. Melly would like some insights and awareness of things she hasn’t considered before with having a dog.
Why is it a problem?
Her husband is not very keen on dogs, their life-style will be restricted with the responsibility of a pet, financial expenses and choosing the right breed for the family. She also wants to understand if this would be the right thing for her.
How long has it been an issue?
For a few years and also that her husband doesn’t love dogs also she grew up with a father that didn’t love her dog and it caused some tension….
What is the worst thing about this problem?
The worst thing would be that her husband would continue to refuse having a dog. It is really important that her husband is on board, because Kelly is also aware that if he isn’t happy or dedicated owning a dog, that the next 15 years won’t be pleasant. (average life-span of a dog)
Why has no one been able to solve it so far?
Melly says that until now it hasn’t been the right timing, due to her previously working in a cooperate job, than resigning from her job, taking a time- out to understand the next direction in her life and then being occupied with her coaching studies. Now that she has completed her studies and is self-employed at home as a coach, she says that the timing could be right also due to her being home, as she is self- employed. Due to her husband’s unwillingness of having a pet, she didn’t insist on having a dog while she was finding herself building up her new career.
What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
First of all, I acknowledged her for her trust to share with me. and her compassion and her respect for her husband’s opinions.
Second, I asked her if I may share an observation as she mentioned several times on how to approach her husband. I was listening deeply to the feeling of the person not just to her conscious words, and then I asked her on what certain key words that kept comping up meant for her, such as what does approaching this topic means for her. While she was sharing, she went to one of the roots of the problem that affected her growing up, because her dad did not love he family dog as much as the rest of the family and it caused some tension in the family. She said that by approaching this topic, she wants to be compassionate and non-judgmental towards her husband.
I later reflected the values that are very important to Melly, such as respect, compassion and validation. Then we moved to creating supportive structure to understand why having a dog would be a good outcome for everybody, by understand which steps would be necessary in order to gain more understanding of how she can approach this topic with her husband. By understanding what other research and things she can do in order to give her husband better insight of what having a dog means, Melly was able to put together an action plan in order to reintroduce the topic with her husband.
Explain your process in detail
Melly is a peer coach of mine, she wasn’t a normal client, so she already had a high level of awareness and understood the coaching process. This also allowed to coaching to come quite easily as she was able to direct the process to her desired outcome without many questions from my part. She mostly needed a non-judgmental space to verbalize her thoughts and the biggest challenge was for her to define the best strategy while considering her husband’s feelings, while considering her feelings and the benefits of having a dog for the family.
I was listening very attentively, showing her care, acknowledgment for her compassion and giving back feedback and observations to what she was expressing.
I used a scale of measurement on the importance of having a dog with 10 being the highest and 1 the lowest in order to understand what this means to Melly.
M: “between a 7 and an 8, because the topic has come back in such a strong way, and I don’t make it higher because my kids are getting more independent. It isn’t a 10 because a puppy is like having a child, because puppies are very needy and I’m aware of the impact of the dog on my life.
C: Where would you like to be with the importance of having a dog?
M: Although there are some things to consider, this scale is my importance on having a dog, which I would like to be at a 10 and of course, the kids would be at a 12, however I would like us to be on board as a family that we are aligned with that scale. Once we are aligned, then I’ll know which direction I’d like to go in and start to take action.
C: May I make an observation? Originally you wanted to know the best way on how to approach this topic with your husband and now you have mentioned that it is important for you to have the family aligned with having a dog, which would be the most important thing for you to address right now?
M: This was a bit of an a-ha moment for me of the importance of aligning ourselves.
C: What would have to happen in order for you to be more aligned as a family?
M: A good action would be having our neighbors over for dinner who own a dog.
C: How would this be helpful in aligning yourselves?
M: to find out what having a dog entails, the pros, the cons, the costs etc.
C: How could this help your husband in aligning himself with the rest of you?
M: By understanding the negative impact that having a dog could have on our lives
C: It seems like you understand what action needs to happen next in order to understand better the impact a dog would have on the family.
M: By approaching the topic in this way, I can take a step back and take the pressure off, because naturally in my mind I have already chosen the breed of dog and am way ahead of myself, but if I approach this topic slowly and in a compassionate way to my husband, by addressing all of his concerns and which responsibilities of having a dog entails, because he already once said he wants to know more before making such a decision, then we can go to the next step, which may be dog sitting the neighbor’s dog for the weekend…and ultimately experience how it really is like having a dog in the house.
C: I can hear the excitement in your voice when you talk about this and also how it is uplifting that your husband is willing to discuss this topic with you and discover more.
M: Yes, I think it’s a clear next step to fill in all of the information gaps
N.B: this is a brief of the coaching conversation just to highlight the main shift.
What were the results of your process? Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not?
It was very effective, because I didn’t coach the situation, but the client by staying present with her and allowing her to direct her desired outcome. She understood that her desire is that the family is aligned with having a dog, which was a bit different from her original outcome of finding out what would be the best way of approaching this topic with her husband,because she is aware that she values and respects his feelings enough to not want to force a dog on him, because it would ultimately will cause tension within the family. By taking small steps of actions and getting insight from people who actually own a dog, she believes it will also allow her husband to feel included in the decision making and address directly any concerns that he has with owning a pet. I provided Melly the space where no one was judging her and she could talk openly and discover what is it that she wants for the family and not just for herself, but a really carefully planned decision which would feel really good if her husband was on board, and if not to know that she has taken all measurements to understand better what having a dog would mean.
If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
I would ask her what alignment means to her. In order to gain a better understanding of what she is looking for with alignment.
What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
First of all, the main goal of the agreement mostly is not what the client is looking for.
Second, although one person may have one desire, it is important to understand what is the best approach for the family so every member feels included; by taking other people’s feelings into account, the client is more likely to have a better outcome with her original desired outcome.Third, by making the observation when the client has changed her original outcome, the client has the awareness and choice to understand what is more meaningful for her at the moment, and to discover what it really is that she is looking for.