A Coaching Power Tool created by Claudia Landini
(Cross-Cultural Coaching, PALESTINIAN TERRITORY)
There can be many reasons why a person seeks the help of a coach, and all of them can be formulated in different ways. However there is not doubt that the role of the coach is one of support, accompaniment, help, and encouragement. At the basis of all of these definitions lies the premise of sharing. Clients that seek support will have to share their situations and feelings; in order to be accompanied on a stretch of road, they’ll need to share it with their coach; help can’t be expressed unless someone opens up and shares the most intimate feelings, and no one can be encouraged if there has not been some sharing about a specific situation, issue or mood.
If we stop to think about it, what we do from the moment we open our eyes is sharing: we share a greeting with our family members or neighbours, we might share a table for breakfast, we go to work and share opinions, facts and methods, we share our feelings with friends and loved ones, we even share our rage when something goes wrong and we need to vent.
But do we ever stop reflecting on this and on how important sharing is? We rarely do. We are probably most of the time unaware of how much daily interaction fills our lives. And there is no interaction without sharing.
It is interesting to read the definitions that Webster dictionary gives of the verb to share/sharing:
1: to divide and distribute in shares
2 : a : to partake of, use, experience, occupy, or enjoy with others
b : to have in common
3 : to grant or give a share in
4 : to tell (as thoughts, feelings, or experiences) to others
and as intransitive verb:
– to talk about one’s thoughts, feelings, or experiences with others
Part of what lies within the realm of these definitions we do every day, often in an almost automatic way. As it happens with many things in life, we are so busy and always rushing, that we sometimes act without really being in the moment. Yet sharing is one of the most natural things in our lives, and implies interaction and human contacts, that are at the basis of our own survival and development as human beings. According to Dr Anne Copeland, director of the Interchange Institute in Boston, who conducted a series of studies into the happiness of accompanying partners in mobile life, “research has shown that women with strong social networks are usually physically and emotionally healthier than those who are isolated”. Since I have been studying and working with mobile women, this is the example that comes to mind spontaneously, but what Dr Copeland says also applies on a much more general level, and to non-nomadic individuals, too. Sharing feelings and stories has several beneficial effects:
- It helps reframing perspectives
- It makes feel less lonely
- It gives strength and courage to act
- It allows others to guide us and comfort us
- It enriches human relations
The power of sharing is immense and that is why, as coaches, we should always encourage the act. We start out in our sessions by finding the right words and questions to support our clients in opening up as much as they can. We create the right trustful and intimate environment where sharing can flourish. And we show our client how beneficial sharing is, in that only by telling us their stories and feelings do they put us in a position to give appropriate feed-back.
It is important to stress the role of sharing because as it often happens, people can have a tendency to reduce their sharing at a minimum, or keep the “sharing portion” in their lives at an indispensable level, while avoiding conscious and healthy sharing. There can be many reasons why a person moves away from sharing and towards isolation. One of the most common situations is to lose contact with your innermost feelings, or become afraid of them, thus limiting daily interactions at a formal and superficial level. Sharing means opening up, disclosing yourself to others, i.e. being honest. If you are not honest, you are not sharing. In order to be honest with yourself and hence with others, you need to be in tune with your values, beliefs, aspirations, and in touch with your feelings. You need to accept yourself and be proud of who you are. When this does not happen (and there are multiple reasons that can block the process), it becomes impossible to take an honest and transparent stand in life. Sharing becomes difficult and you unconsciously seek isolation.
Isolation can take many different forms:
- You might communicate less, or with words and gestures that are controlled and limited
- You might avoid facing uneasy issues with yourself
- You might convince yourself of something that accommodates your inability to be in touch with your feelings
- You might push back all attempts of people to get close and intimate with you
When we deal with clients that present one or more of these conditions, we should first of all try to bring up any underlying belief that might interfere with a clear relation they have with themselves. Gently showing the clients that by opening up and sharing with us, they are more likely to get to core of the issues and to face them in a more solid way, is a powerful tool to push them to integrate more sharing in their personal (and/or professional) lives. This can be also done by suggesting simple actions, like:
- During a whole day, write down how many moments of sharing you have and with whom;
- Reflect on the quality of the sharing you indicated: does it satisfy you? Has it brought anything rich and positive to you? Could you do something to improve your sharing?
- During a whole day try to “share better”. Use some strategies you set up with your coach during the session;
- Identify a person in your life you would like to share something with, and start sharing a bit more everyday
- Think of a moment in your life when someone shared something very important with you: how did you feel?
Clients often feel fully energized and clearer with themselves after just a few sessions because the power of sharing is immense. As coaches we often hear our clients stating repeatedly that the only fact of having someone that listens to them and gives you honest feed-back is one of the most empowering situations they experienced in their lives. What they do, in a word, is breaking the isolation and sharing, and it is of utmost importance that the coach succeeds in showing them the value of the act of sharing that happens within the sessions.