A Coaching Power Tool created by Lalitha Prasad
(Executive Coach, INDIA)
The synonyms for cloudiness are ambiguity, uncertainty, haziness, not clear and so on. When we are faced with any issue, the first thing that we are told is to remove the ambiguity and understand the issue in all its ramifications. One can quote many parallels. If you are sick and go to a doctor, the first thing that the doctor does is to examine you to understand what is causing the symptoms. Any problem solver, ideally, is expected to understand the problem in its entirety before proposing a solution. When we say entirety, what we mean is that not only the problem, but the context in which the problem is occurring should also be understood. Systems thinking advises us that we should understand any system holistically. A system consists of many components, which have their own properties. One can not understand a system, just by understanding the properties of the components. A system has emergent properties. They can be understood not merely by analysis, but require synthesis. In a software development context, understanding the requirements is the key to the success of the project.
In a coaching context, the role of the coach is to support the client to understand himself before committing to any actions. In a long term coaching engagement, where the client requires support to achieve certain goals, it is imperative that the client understands what the current reality is, and what is the gap he is trying to bridge. In a coaching conversation, where the client requires support to resolve a dilemma, it is imperative that the client clearly understands both sides of the dilemma. So the focus of this power tool is to help client move from cloudiness or ambiguity to clarity.
What are the road blocks to clarity? Some times we may have certain biases or filters which prevent us from understanding an issue with clarity. These biases can be of many types like cultural, or religious or one’s upbringing. Even the education might induce biases. For example, a lawyer might view every issue from a legal point of view. Another road block could be vested interest. For example, one does not want to move out of a comfort zone. Some body who is used to a 9 to 5 working day may find it very difficult to change the working hours. A third road block is getting bogged down in details. For example, we often meet people who have a tendency to state anything to a great detail. But soon, the details overwhelm the issue and one gets completely lost. A fourth road block is an emotional hot spot. Imagine asking for career guidance from a person who just lost his job. Such a person is likely to be in such a very disturbed emotional state, that he can not give any rational advice.
However, cloudiness is not totally a negative state. It can be viewed as an opportunity to learn. If I don’t understand something, I may talk to an expert or do a literature survey or do any other thing, which will help me to get clarity. So it can be viewed as an opportunity to increase one’s competence.
So how do we move a client from cloudiness to clarity. By focusing on solution rather than on problem or issue. Ask questions which will move the client. Examples are:
- What are you going to do about this issue?
- What is your next step?
- What do you want to achieve?
- What is your plan to achieve the objective?
- What is stopping you from reaching your goal?
- How can you look at the issue differently?
- What alternatives can you think of to reach the goal?
- What actions can you think of doing to resolve the issue?
- How soon do you want act to resolve the issue?
- Have you thought about this issue?
- What insights do you have about this issue?
Lack of clarity is the food for failure. Lack of clarity can put brakes on the journey to success. So move the client towards clarity of thought and clarity of purpose and help him achieve success.