A Coaching Power Tool created by Lauren Butler
(Transition Coach, UNITED STATES)
When compassion is present the coaching process soars. When indifference is present it stagnates. Compassion is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as sympathy for others, a desire to help, kindheartedness, benevolence.
Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.
Compassion is interconnectedness making you sympathetically aware. Compassion is not selfish or self-centered it is other centered. Most who choose Life Coaching are compassionate people. They are people who are generally positive and altruistic. Having the quality of compassion creates an environment of caring and being in the moment with the client. When you give someone the gift of compassion it is a positive energy that passes between you. Emotions are felt in every cell of your body and then reside there as memories. These memories direct future emotions, beliefs, and actions. Intuitively a coach who holds compassion toward the client is able to use this to move the client forward with gently thoughtful questioning. It is up to the coach to distinguish how these emotions can benefit or detract from the session with the client. It is important for the coach to pay close attention to their intuitive impressions, what may not be said, during the coaching session. Oftentimes the client will try to focus on the positive when what is negative emotionally is also what will move them forward. This is a very sensitive area in coaching. The coach wants a positive outcome. With compassion the coach is able to be present for the client and move with them to the path they need to take.
Compassion is a powerful tool for connecting with a client. When compassion and concern are present the client feels cared for and cared about. Compassion opens possibilities for a greater presence for both client and coach. Feeling cared about helps us feel safe. It is easier to trust in a compassionate caring environment.
It is important that while compassion is present that you also remain objective. Careful reflection of your own emotional connection, intuition, will allow for the interpretation of the impressions you are receiving. Through careful examination of these impressions you can filter and distinguish one from the other and use them to assist the client in clarifying their emotions and the role they play in the goals that are present. At all times it is about the client and their journey. Compassion needs to be present as a tool to guide and support.
An example of where compassion was present is the story of the Dr. and the Process Server:
It was a very hectic busy day at the Dr.’s clinic. The previous evening the Dr. had confirmed his wife’s infidelity and had decided to end the marriage. Unbeknownst to him, his wife had already filed for divorce that very day. During the day a visitor arrived at the clinic. The Dr.’s Administrative Assistant asked what the purpose for his visit was. The visitor answered that he had papers for the Dr., the Assistant knew exactly what was happening. There were patients in the clinic and the Dr. was not aware of the visitor’s purpose. When new patients continued to arrive the Assistant saw an uncomfortable situation arising. She asked the visitor if he would wait until patients were gone. He agreed and continued to wait for a free moment with the Dr. When several minutes passed and the Assistant saw no break in the schedule she took a moment and spoke privately with the Dr. having him take the visitor into a private treatment room. By doing so she was able to prevent any misunderstandings and discomfort for the Dr. and his patients. The Assistant’s discretion and compassion for the Dr.’s situation helped things go smoothly for all involved and allowed the Dr. to go forward with his day. Through compassion the Assistant was able to step into the world of another person and act accordingly. This is a great way to create an environment of trust.
With indifference there is a complete lack of compassion. Indifference is defined as a lack of concern or consideration for others. Indifference does not create trust. Indifference is based primarily in selfishness. The concern of the Indifferent person is for themselves alone and thoughts of others are usually absent. The indifferent individual lacks most of the qualities needed in the coaching environment, concern, caring and empathy.
An excellent example of an indifferent character in literature is W. Somerset Maugham’s Mildred from, “Of Human Bondage”. The protagonist in the story, Phillip, is totally enamored of the androgenous waitress Mildred, who actually tells Phillip, “I like you, but not that much, if you were to give me a gift though I would accept it”. Throughout much of the story Phillip romances Mildred to no avail. When he asks for a kiss her reply is, “I don’t mind much”. Phillip in his obsessive passion for Mildred is oblivious to her indifference toward him. Needless to say Mildred took much advantage of Phillip’s desire for her. Her indifference toward him left her with no sense of his feelings and focused only on her own. Although she never told him otherwise, Phillip believed that she would come around and change her feelings for him. Her indifference remains throughout and even extends to her own child. When indifference is present in any situation it is for the people involved to decide how to handle the indifference or walk away from it.
In conclusion we as coaches have to decide whether to continue on with the coaching relationship when we encounter indifference. The positive factors inherent in the coaching environ do not leave a lot of room for negativity. Although, to some indifference is not negative, it is just a lack of caring. In the coaching world this lack of caring must be addressed for the coaching process to succeed.