A Coaching Power Tool Created by Chuen Chuen Yeo
(Women Empowerment Coach, SINGAPORE)
In my coaching conversations, I often work to uncover the crux of the issue, to uncover the session goal quickly as the client launch into an extended narration of the situation they are in and which bothers them. Sensing some discomfort in a seemingly (most of the time) normal and natural situation, I often use the question “What is making you uncomfortable in this situation?” to help the client make sense of and identify something specific which needs to be resolved. This power tool came from my experiences with the use of this question, observing a pattern in what clients seek for through coaching.
1. What is comfort?
1. A state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint
2. The easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress
1. ease the grief or distress of.
In a state of comfort, the client feels at ease and at peace with the circumstances. It does not mean that things are perfect in his life; it embodies a state of full acceptance and embraces everything that was given to him. One person who comes to my mind was Randy Pausch, an American professor of computer science, human computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After being diagnosed with terminal disease and projected to have only 3-6 months left to live, Randy Pausch went on to deliver an upbeat lecture titled, “The Last Lecture”, which inspired many people. More than a decade after this lecture was delivered, I often try to put myself in his shoes. What was he feeling? How did he maintain that energy and positivity, knowing that the end was near?
His famous quote, to me, summarizes what true comfort meant.
We cannot change the hand we are dealt with, just how we play the game.
What can our clients learn from this? Are there changes which they seek, which are not possible, or takes too much effort to create? Might it better to seek comfort in the hand they are dealt with, and play the game better?
2. What is discomfort?
1. A feeling of being uncomfortable physically or mentally, or something that causes this feeling
In a state of discomfort, the client feels the need to do things different. The situation is so uncomfortable that the discomfort seems to increase over time. With enough time, the threshold to the psychological pain seems to decrease which then translates into motivation to make difficult changes. How can coaches inspire, challenge clients to get uncomfortable?
Let us not be satisfied with a mediocre life. – Pope Francis
3. Connection between comfort and discomfort
What I am proposing here is not one over the other; comfort and discomfort both can be beneficial to our clients. Likewise, both can be detrimental to our clients. My belief is my role as coach is to challenge my clients and push them to consider notions, which they have not been aware of. Considering the many “what-ifs” in my experience, changes perspectives and reframes perspectives rapidly, helping clients seeks clarity in the way forward.
Here are some situations where both comfort and discomfort play the role of angels and devils.
Comfort, cannot exist without discomfort and vice versa. Whether it is empowering or not, depends on the interpretation and paradigm.
4. Coaching application
I had clients who were empowered by both comfort and discomfort and likewise, disempowered by both.
My coaching application to use this power tool is to offer the following questions.