A Coaching Model Created by Victoria Tanner
(Expat Women, UNITED KINGDOM)
S U P P O R T – a coaching model for Expat Women
The S U P P O R T coaching model has been created to focus specifically on the Expat Woman. People all over the world require more support in various ways, but my passion lies with women who live abroad and who often find themselves in a lonely environment with only their partner or a handful of friends to turn to. Expat women frequently feel like they have either little or no support on their journey.
Of course, lack of support is experienced by all women (and men too!) wherever you may live, but as an expat, there are also other factors to consider– a traveling spouse, “third culture kids”, being unfamiliar with the country you are living in, language barriers and big cultural differences, to name a few.
Having lived as an expat woman for most of my adult life, I have encountered pretty much all of these issues and more. I see myself in the perfect position to support women as they try to navigate their way, not only around the globe but through the fog of motherhood in a foreign country and with what comes next, as well as with the loss of identity and ways to overcome it.
As the expat life can be a lonely one, I strongly believe it’s important for expat women to be in a position where they can help themselves as much as possible. Becoming more self-aware and being able to reflect on their thoughts and emotions, as well as reframe them and put them into perspective, will impact their wellbeing in an extremely positive manner.
I created a symbol of women supporting one another because although we feel very alone sometimes, it’s not until we voice our concerns that we realise we’re all in the same situation and can support each other moving forward. The different colors symbolize the myriad of different women out there of all different ages, religions, colors, races, nationalities, and cultures. However, we are all bound by one common ground –we have traveled away from our home country and are navigating life as expats.
S –Self-Care, Strength, and Support
What prompts the expat woman to examine her position, wants, and needs for the future? A sense of loneliness… Guilt and confusion about how to manage family life and her own self-care… Ambition and the desire to accomplish more!
Expat women looking for the support of a coach, are likely looking to regain their identity. Perhaps she’s been out of work due to travel or her partner’s job and wants to rekindle her career. Perhaps visa restrictions have confined her to a job she no longer enjoys. Maybe she’s simply so swamped in “relocating”, she’s had no time to concentrate on her own self-care.
When we lose our identity, we often lose our confidence too. We forget about the things we’re good at – our strengths! The strength we had to leave our family and friends behind. To be the “trailing spouse”. To contend with power cuts, typhoons, and earthquakes, all while trying to learn a new language and raise children in a different culture. All that takes strength and resilience!
I aim to support expat women in recognizing their strengths and using them to regain their confidence. To acknowledge that it’s okay and beneficial to focus on self-care. To be their confidante in whatever challenge they’re facing. Listen to their uncertainties and support them while they navigate those hurdles. To be an ally as they regain their identity and once again feel motivated, independent and excited about what their future holds and the direction in which they’re taking it.
U–Understanding Underlying beliefs
Our whole lives, we are influenced by those around us. Influenced by experiences that create our underlying beliefs about, for example, ourselves and other people, or what is the right/wrong way to live our lives. The problem arises when we forget that those beliefs were created under totally different circumstances to those we now find ourselves in.
In the coaching session, we will examine the beliefs of the client and how they affect his/her everyday life. We will explore and distinguish between those beliefs holding the client back, and the values that are actually an integral part of who the client is.
Clients can be confident that their coaching space is one with no judgment. Space where they can reflect on and evaluate their beliefs, explore how they are affected by them, and create action steps to overcome them.
- What have you tried in the past [in relation to your goal]? How have your circumstances changed since then?
- What comes up when you tell me that?
- What thoughts do you have about this situation that is stopping you from moving forward?
- I hear a lot of speculation about [________]. Where does that come from?
Perspective and Progress
Anyone who has a coach, or is looking to find one, wants to make progress in some form or another. A coach is there to support their clients with that process.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. George Bernard Shaw
A coach is in a position to aid the client in seeing things from a different perspective. If we can change our mindset and see things differently, for example, focusing on the positive outcome of a situation rather than the hard work it may take to get there, we can motivate ourselves to succeed and accomplish our goals. Realising the benefits of reframing perspective will aid clients in processing their own thoughts and make life a little easier to navigate and progress.
When coaches are able to support their clients in reframing their perspective, progress will almost certainly be made, steps forward can be taken and a positive outcome can be reached.
- What makes you think that’s not possible?
- How is that thought serving you?
- What other reasons might he/she have done that?
- What have you learned from that experience that could help you with your goal today?
- If you completely trust yourself right now, what would you do next?
O –Observations | Obstacles | Open (and direct)
Being able to recognize obstacles for what they are is harder than it sounds. Most of the time, we don’t even realise we’re being held back by something. By listening to and observing our clients, including their tone of voice, speech and body language, we are able to make observations so our clients can uncover what’s blocking them.
Most expats have been brought up one way, and are now living life in a totally different way. Our ideas, values, and opinions are changing, but our beliefs can be stuck in the past, and that conflict creates an obstacle that’s very difficult to see.
Observing conflict in a client, when they’re saying one thing, but acting differently is extremely impactful and requires the coach to be open and direct. However, pointing out these conflicts can be challenging, so it’s essential we make our observations free of judgment and accept that the client may disagree with them. This is a critical point at which the coach should accept if the client does not want to continue discussing an issue.
We must create a space where we can be open with our clients in order to explore these conflicts and any other observations we may have. It’s important to remember that the coach should have no expectations, and our observations are there to help the client find THEIR truth, not our own.
- It sounds like you may be feeling a little hesitant/frustrated…. tell me more about that. What do you need to do with that to move forward?
- You had a lot of energy when we were discussing [……], but now there seems to have been a real shift. What comes up when I say that?
- I’m curious how you’re feeling right now because although you say you’re very happy/optimistic, you look a little down/discouraged. What’s it like to hear that?
- I’m sensing a lack of enthusiasm/a fear of succeeding….. how does that relate to your goal today?
R –Reaction -v- Response
I believe it’s imperative that expat women are able to manage themselves. Traveling from one place to another means we are frequently trying to fit in with new groups of people. This can make it very difficult to find someone you are confident talking to about your emotions and what’s happening in your life.
Our clients need to see that it’s not the event that’s important, it’s the final outcome, and we can’t change the event or the outcome. We can only change our response!
Event + Response = Outcome
In the coaching process this tool enables clients to see:
- the benefit of responding versus reacting and how, when they respond, it’s a calm, thoughtful process as opposed to a quick and aggressive reaction; and
- how, by carefully considering their response to certain events, their desired outcome/goal is more likely to be achieved. They are not allowing life or drastic reactions to pull them in any direction. They are committing to a specific action, responding to life events and taking control of their own future.
- What are one or two things you’ve tried to solve this problem? If you had to do it differently, what would you do?
- What’s within your control in this situation?
- What can you do to update this belief/opinion so that it’s more flexible and you can achieve your goal today?
- What would a great outcome in this situation look like? How can you reach that outcome?
- What actions are you ready to take?
- What do you need to let go of to allow this goal to be achieved?
- What/who do you need to support you, in order to take this action?
T –Transformation | Trust
I recently saw a quote from one of my ICA mentors who read:
The better you know yourself, the more secure you will feel in life. Razan Kilani
By using the Support Coaching Model, we are empowering expat women to trust themselves, to become more self-aware and to be in a position where they are able to process their own emotions and thoughts. This is where the transformation will take place. On the road, these are all invaluable tools, and when they need a reliable confidante along the way, which they invariably will, their coach will be there to S U P P O R T them.