A Coaching Power Tool created by Erick Albarracin
(Health and Wellness Coaching, UNITED STATES)
Coaches employ power tools to empower clients with their personal transformation to achieve change. A power tool entails the presentation and explanation of two opposite perspectives within the coaching process. The presentation and explanation of one perspective increases the client’s keenness to pursue change while the second perspective decreases the client’s willingness to achieve change. Examples of coaching power tools are lightness versus significance, clarity versus obscurity, trust versus doubt, commitment versus trying, action versus delay, and respect versus invalidation. However, the focus of this power tool is compassion versus judgment.
Compassion has many definitions and can be applied on different contexts. Despite the context where compassion is defined and applied, compassion leads to a genuine and a sincere awareness of other people’s problems, and ultimately the act of compassion leads to address and solve other people’s suffering. For instance, compassion is conceptualized as a three steps process (Kanov et al., 2004); compassion can be applied in the workplace (Lilius et al., 2011), and within the practice of leadership (Boyatzis et al., 2006). In the coaching process, compassion capability can empower the client to shift perspectives and aim change throughout sincere compassionate acts such as acknowledging, praising, celebrating, help offering (Lilius et al., 2011); compassionate touching, facial and body language and voice tone (Goetz et al., 2010); and compassionate habits such as gratitude, generosity, harmlessness and total acceptance (Marques et al., 2010).
On the other hand, judgment presents a different perspective than compassion. Even though there are different definitions and applications about judgment, judgment leads to decrease people’s desire to pursue change. Judgment is used and applied within different contexts such as social judgment (Yzerby et al., 1998); judgment and arousal, motivation and stress (Roets & Hiel, 2011); and judgment and morality (Aridag & Yuksel, 2010). In the coaching process, the use and application of judgment can discourage the client’s willingness to pursue his / her personal transformation such as the use of unsophisticated and simple-minded information and people’s private beliefs and impression management (Yzerby et al., 1998); arousal, motivation and stress (Roets & Hiel, 2011); morality (Aridag & Yuksel, 2010); guilt, anger, disgust, shame, sadness and anxiety (Choe & Min, 2011).
The purpose of this power tool is to uncover and emphasize the benefits of compassion capability on the coach’s behaviors and the coaching process as opposite of judgment. The first section of the power tool presents and discusses the definition and application of compassion followed with a reflection section. The second section of the power tool presents and reviews the definition and application of judgment followed with a reflection section. The third section of the power tool explains the shift from judgment to compassion. The next section discusses the coaching application of compassion capability followed with a reflection section. The final section of this power tool presents a conclusion.
What is Compassion?
In this section, compassion is explored and defined. Even though there were found several definitions and applications of compassion, compassion genuinely enhances human’s capability to truly understand and intentionally help and service people to overcome their challenges and suffering, and ultimately increase the willingness for change. For instance, compassion is defined as a process of three steps (Kanov et al., 2004); compassion and its practice in the workplace (Lilius et al., 2011); compassion and body language (Goetz et al., 2010); compassion and leadership (Boyatzis et al., 2006); and compassion and the human’s habits (Marques et al., 2010). In the following paragraphs, compassion is presented and discussed.
Compassion as a Process of three Steps
Compassion is associated with the process of three actions noticing, feeling and responding. In noticing, the individual attends to another person’s suffering. In feeling, the individual has a genuine empathetic concern for the person’s issue. In responding, the individual actually acts to help the person, who deals with an issue (Kanov et al., 2004) For example, if a colleague had a yearly bad appraisal review, a compassioned person will attend to listen and show empathetic concern for the colleague unpleasant subjective experience. In the next paragraph, a similar definition about compassion is discussed.
Compassion and the Workplace
Compassion is the capability to address human’s suffering. In this vein, human’s suffering is related to emotional and psychological pain, psychological anguish and existential torment. In addition, it appears that compassion in the organization can bring positive outcomes (Lilius et al., 2011). For instance, compassion improves the team members’ commitment with the workplace, helps with recovery from a painful experience and positively influences how people see their colleagues. Compassion can be applied in daily activities within the organization.
Acknowledging and praising are good practices of compassion (Lilius et al., 2011). While the practice of acknowledging honors people’s strengths, praising recognizes people’s contributions in the organization. For instance, praising someone for a job well done endures the relationship between the leader and the follower and the employee’s commitment toward the organization. Another example is acknowledging one’s strengths in the workplace. Therefore, high-quality connections can be aimed through the practice of compassion.
The practice of addressing issues directly is a good practice of compassion (Lilius et al., 2011). This practice allows people to positively manage work challenges and interpersonal tensions in the workplace. In addition, this practice helps to overcome conflicts and disagreements between people. For instance, when a compassioned person approach to another person to solve a conflict within a straightforward manner, it is a good practice of compassion capability. Thus, the practice of addressing problems directly also enhances high-quality connections.
Celebrating is a good practice of compassion capability (Lilius, et al., 2011). Celebrating individuals’ personal milestones is a good practice of compassion because it empowers healthy dynamics between fellow members in the organization. In addition, this practice permits colleagues to interact with everyone else and develop their relational and empathy skills. As an illustration, celebrating colleagues birthdays, baby showers, wedding showers, organizing potlucks, farewells are examples of good practices of compassion capability. As a results, recognizing and celebrating people’s personal milestones in live foster healthy dynamics and compassion within the workplace.
Help offering encourages the practice of compassion (Lilius et al., 2011). People recurrent activities on helping other people create a culture of compassion and healthy dynamics. In addition, another benefit of help offering is that it normalizes the compassionated act of offering help and receiving help. Good examples of help offering are monitoring other people’s potential needs, observing other colleagues workload, assisting fellows with their tasks when they are sick and monitor other situations where helps may be necessary. Consequently, the compassionated practice of help offering also empowers healthy dynamic between people and create a norm for offering help and receiving help.
Orienting new fellows is a good practice of compassion capability (Lilius et al., 2011). This practice entails recurrent actions of socialization to expose members with new tasks in the workplace. Orienting is beneficial not only for the newcomer being assisted, but also for the person assisting the newcomer because it empowers the member’s new learning and reaffirm the support person’s expertise. For instance, job rotation and training are good examples of orienting with compassion capability. Hence, orienting builds relational knowledge, social learning and enhances high quality connections. Compassion has its own signals related to patterns of touch, posture and vocalization.
Compassion and Body Language
As opposite to other definitions of compassion, compassion is defined as an affective experience to facilitate protection to people, which requires distinctive signals of touch, body language and voice. Touching communicates compassion because it enhances cooperative relationships and reassures emotional attachments. In addition, touching is associated with caregiving perceived within cultures (Goetz et al., 2010). For example, tactile modality can alleviate the sense of stress and can promote cooperation and mutual ultraism; love and gratitude are displayed through hand-to-forearm touches. Thus, touching is a powerful means and a signal for communication compassion to other people.
Similarly, facial and postural behaviors display signals of compassion (Goetz et al., 2010). Compassionated facial expressions and postural actions can help to build a positive environment and improve people’s dynamics since they are signals of supportive behavior. In addition, compassionated facial expressions and postural behaviors can increase the feeling of sympathy toward the person who deals with suffering. Good examples of compassionated facial expressions and postural behaviors are oblique eyebrows, a fixed gaze, head movement forward, eye contact and forward leans. Hence, compassion can be communicated through facial expressions and posture behaviors.
Vocalization displays compassion and other positive emotions. Positive emotions such as compassion, love and gratitude can be expressed through vocal activities. Positive vocal bursts can enhance the engagement of people’s dynamics. For example, summarizing and restating what it has being said through good listening streamlines the connection between two individuals, empowers empathy and ultimately, it reaches the positive and the higher emotional state of compassion. Consequently, positive voice bursts communicate the sense of compassion, love and gratitude. Leadership sustainability is enhanced thorough compassion and coaching.
Compassion and Leadership
Leaders can experience compassion and sustainability through coaching and the coaching process (Boyatzis et al., 2006). While the leader’s role of coaching other people sustains the leader’s development, the process of coaching allows the leader to experience the sense of compassion. One example is when a leader helps the follower to achieve a personal or a professional dream. In this coaching process, the leader is able to experience compassion since the leader intention is to support people to reach their personal or professional aspirations. Therefore, leaders can experience the sense of compassion and sustainability through coaching people and the coaching process.
Along with the same lines, compassionate leadership empowers people to achieve a meaningful and purposeful live (Grant, 2010). When leaders are compassionated with people, the effect of compassion has a positive influence on people’s self-efficacy because people become more independent and productive. Leaders use love and tolerance to interact and understand people’s wants, needs and desires. For example, when a compassionate leader acts with the sense of feeling, the leader creates a safe environment characterized with understanding, gratitude, kindness, forgiveness and compassion. Thus, compassionate leaders can increase people’s self-efficacy through love and tolerance.