Coaching Case Study By Matthew Trethewey
(Life Coach, HONG KONG)
1. Who are the main players in this case study
The main player in this case study is Ruby (not her real name) the client.
2. What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to?
The focus of the coaching session was to work on shifting one of Ruby’s disempowering beliefs that was getting in her way when at work. She stated her belief was, at certain times at work, “people are stupid” and that she also believed, at the same time, that she was “not good enough”.
This problem had been present for a while and Ruby seemed motivated and willing to work on tackling this issue.
The worst thing about this problem seemed to be the impact it was having on Ruby’s ability to carry out her role and responsibilities as best she could. For example, during some business meetings, Ruby had encountered hostility with important clients due to their disagreement over the best strategy to take with a joint project. Ruby believed these particular clients did not share her level of expertise and experience within her line of work. If there were to be a disagreement on strategy, Ruby could feel resentful towards them. Whilst this would be taken place, Ruby would also question her ability in her role, and ask herself questions such as “Do I really know what I am talking about?” when a disagreement occurred. The effectiveness and efficiency of these meetings suffered as a result.
Ruby shared that, even though she had already given careful thought to her beliefs and how they were driving her behaviour, she remained stuck and needed the support of coaching. She made the remark that only seeing this problem from one (her) perspective was not enabling her to work through and overcome the block getting in her way at work.
2. What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
For the 30-minute coaching session, the main coaching skills I used were powerful listening and questioning.
3. Explain your process in detail
I first asked the client’s permission to split her belief statement into two separate statements, with one being “people are stupid” and the other being “I am not good enough”.
I began to ask questions about each belief statement to establish the client’s truth (belief) in them. The first question I asked Ruby was “On a scale of 1-10, with 10 meaning 100% total truth and 1 meaning 100% total non-truth (lie), what number would you label your belief of I am not good enough?” Ruby gave herself a 2 or a 1, a high figure. This showed that she actually believed the opposite of her original statement, that she really was very, if not, totally good enough. I then asked “What caused you to initially state your were not good enough?” Ruby thought about this and explained that it was linked somewhat to her first belief that, during certain times, “people are stupid”.
I was curious about where the belief of “people are stupid” was coming from so I continued to ask more questions. Ruby explained that her belief was mainly related to work situations where she would be working with others who did not share her level of expertise and experience in her line of work.
Therefore, she believed that, in certain situations, she knew better than them.
Using a similar question as before, I asked Ruby “On a scale of 1-10, with 10 meaning 100% total truth and 1 meaning 100% total non-truth (i.e. lie), what number would you label to your belief of “People are stupid?” Ruby replied that she were unable to answer because it depended on the situation. However, after stating this sentence, she had a new awareness and experienced an “aha” moment: that people are not always stupid.
I later asked Ruby to recreate her new belief statement incorporating her new awareness. Her restated her belief as “People are not always stupid unless they are they are saying something which I know to be untrue/invalid”. This simple exercise created the shift the client was seeking when she started the coaching session.
4. What were the results of your process? Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not?
The results of the coaching process were that the client shifted their belief from a disempowering one to an empowering one. The coaching process enabled Ruby to disown her “I am not good enough” belief that had been getting in her way at work. She shared that she considered her new belief statement of “people are not always stupid unless they are they are saying something which I know to be untrue/invalid” to be not perfect and that it needed to be further looked in a future coaching session.
However, she did say that the new belief statement allowed her to open up more to others’ views and opinions at work. And, if she were to not agree with anyone else, she could feel more confident in her own abilities in arguing her side, if need be. Based on the takeaways shared by Ruby at the end of the coaching session, I considered my coaching to be effective in this case.
5. If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
As a new coach who has only accumulated around 50 coaching hours, I believe I was effective in coaching this client in this case. However, my questioning could have been more skillful and this may have led the client to shift their beliefs more efficiently, thus creating more time to add more time to coach the client on other issues.
6. What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
- The importance of powerful listening.
- The importance of powerful questioning.
- The importance of feedback.