When we met for the second time around after a gap of a few days, I invited him to share the small and big wins and it was like as though he was waiting for this session to happen. He poured out happiness in the way his health is shaping up better and the joy of slowly getting back to his normal and loving self.
This not only excited me but also propelled me to put on the gears of Active Listening, without waiting any further. This gave me a sound lesson, how much it matters for the Client to be listened by the Coach, even the small little wins and how much acknowledgements mean, to the self esteem building process of the Client. I was rather astonished about my enhanced abilities to focus this time completely on what the Client was wanting to narrate which helped him to be more self expressive. I was able to tune in to his words, his tonality, body language, emotions and sentiments, so much so I was delighted that I came a full circle for me to summarize, paraphrase and mirror back to the Client, which led to more understanding.
Unexpected, yet exhilarating deeper dives…..
A few minutes into the second session, I was astounded as to how Ramesh chose to share about his nature of becoming depressed at times, which drags him down and how it is effecting an important role transition happening in the organization. There on he moved into extensive details of the road blocks that he experienced in the migration to the new role, what was inhibiting him, apart from externalizing and blaming his peers and seniors, the organizational system and sub systems, which were affecting his functionality and how it caused huge amount of annoyance, within himself, which he also tended to expend on others and how productivity became a casualty. It is herein, that I chose to ask Powerful Questions which candidly I didn’t experiment much in the first session.
Questions that I asked were around evoking insights and discovery for him to look deeper within himself, kept it all open ended that produced clarity and a range of options, which provided new learning for him. I also consciously focused the open ended questions, to help him navigate himself to the future role that he needs to migrate and more importantly directly explore outcomes that were stated in the session about the need to reflect more as to what are the reasons contributing to the current scenario and how can he be better off in handling the situations, as a responsible senior member in the organization. The sample Powerful Questions that I asked were like:
[a] How does he see himself in the situation?
[b] How did he come to certain assumptions?
[c] What were the inferences that he made and how did he make them?
[d] What could his role in amending the scenario?
[e] What are the challenges that he would face, if he were to assert himself and indulge in positive confrontation to resolve the conflicts?
[f] What would he do and not do, if he were to go through the entire situation from beginning to now?
[g] What are the alternatives and options that he can devise? [h] What does ownership and accountability mean for him?
[i] What are the support systems that he can rely on?
[j] What are the resources that he needs to explore within himself, others and in technology?
[k] What are the first steps to move towards resolution?
[l] How do you see yourself in a state of having achieved your outcomes in reality? and
[m] How do you feel now?, so on and so forth.
I could sense Ramesh blossoming with glee about whatever was happening in this session. He was absolutely introspective, in the zone and there were no barriers either. I was amazed at the flow that he experienced and even complimented him, for the incisive work that he did on himself. I also experienced him to be more relaxed, which he endorsed. He started exuding confidence and optimism to improve his levels of responsibility, accountability and ownership.
My revelations clearly centered on the relevance of high impact of Active Listening and Powerful Questions and provided me the confidence to listen more, ask precise questions yet move himinto very reflective stance that benefited self and Ramesh.
One more aspect that I realized was about how I was able to seamlessly move back and forth between Power Listening, as a sequel to asking Powerful Questions, without possessing the erstwhile habit of less listening, interrupting and offering solutions, the combined effect of which trapped me to become very judgmental of the Client’s being, behavior, attitudes, desires and goals.
Simultaneously I also experimented small doses of Direct Communication which helped me transcend the above mentioned traps, freeing myself to articulate directly to the Client and also move up the steps of courage by providing honest and sincere feedback, which frankly I could not attempt in the first session. I was also able to reframe my perspectives by using my learning of Power Tools, more specifically to do with Commitment vs. Trying, Responding vs. Reacting, Respect vs. Invalidation, Responsibility vs. Blame and finally Action vs. Delay. This to me resulted in a big process of Transformation both for self and the Client.
This stage also helped me to be in touch with my ability to become more aware of myself, my strengths, my inadequacies, impact of my behavior on the Client and vice versa. This was clearly a setting that I loved which was a lot about Creating Awareness. Yes, he provided me the boost and confidence, to tread the unexplored paths of helping myself and therefore he attained deeper levels of awareness, understanding and clarity about his issues, which in turn furnished him very important revelations about himself, whereby he was able to generate new thought processes, options and possibilities.
In fact it is herein that he was able to uncover some fallacies, underlying assumptions, limiting beliefs which were holding him back and once he developed knowledge about the same, he was able to anchor powerful, affirmative and positive shifts in his desires, attitudes, behaviors and thereby the willingness to move into actions, which were not either thought about or even if thought about, not implemented. The other real gains were to examine the deep seated emotions. From a standpoint of finding it difficult to work at the inner feelings level, take the road less travelled, to gain comfort, confidence and trust were made possible largely due to the client centered approach resting on Establishing Trust and Intimacy, Coaching Presence, Active Listening, Powerful Questioning, Direct Communication and Creating Awareness. My conviction as a Coach to deploy these competences really was reinforced and my confidence went up many notches, particularly after noticing the Client experience very powerful paradigm shifts, the most significant one being ability to become more proactive, claim responsibility for self and willingness to travel that extra mile by implementing his options, solutions and strategies, instead of being counter dependent on the Coach. There was so much unlearning and learning for me!
Over to the path breaking 3rd Coaching session…..
When we conversed again after a gap of 2 weeks, the Client was absolutely in a enthused mood to share his small and big wins, before even I could ask them. I sensed an intense form of excitement, which was brimming right in his body language and visible high energy levels, coupled with a high cheerful disposition to his whole life as such. I was moved by his rendition of his successes in the real world, between the last session and now. There was colossal movement which also indicated him reclaiming himself and thereby developing a healthy self esteem for himself and improved respect for his peers and seniors. He also shared that his colleagues and family members noticed and shared improvements in his behaviors of him being more tolerant, understanding and trusting. These were apparently huge gains for him, which I sincerely appreciated.
I suppose the takeaways which he perceived and narrated induced him to be more open to share and receive as well, during the 3rd session. He chose to explore another important behavioral concern and inadequacy in his own reference. This was about his frustrations about certain high standards and Values that he practiced, some of them that he touched upon were being responsible to others, the need to honor commitments, being disciplined, adhering to deadlines, being on time for all the meetings and tele‐calls and the list went on. I was caught wondering as to what were the concerns that he wanted to bring up in this session. When I constructively probed, a plethora of issues surfaced, which was in a nutshell all about to his expectations [of the high standards and Values described above], to be practiced by every member of his team, peers and in some cases seniors too.
After the initial renewal of rapport building for the session and allowing him to vent out his emotions about his strong resentment and irritations that he used to carry with his colleagues, when they do not conform to his expectations and reciprocating in practice, the high standards and values that he models. He came heavily from an emotional location as to what is wrong in him expecting all those from others, when he is ardently practicing the same with fervor.
Asked about the Outcomes for the session, he wanted to gain more clarity about his issue, seeking answers whether his expectations are right and finally how to manage the frustration.
As I traveled with him in the catharsis that followed, I asked him a set of Powerful Questions around the theme of how are others perceiving him. He candidly came out saying that others at work generally share opinions and impressions that he is highly inflexible, too high in standards, lacks appreciation and that he generates fear amongst his colleagues, because of his hard attitudes.
This is when I chose to go down the path of Appreciative Inquiry. My questions revolved around –
[a]Who is your role model?,
[b] How are they achieving their tasks within the timelines, by practicing different yet successful behaviors?, [c] What would you have done differently?,
[d] What would you have done and not done if you were to have received different and better results from your colleagues and so on.
I deliberately chose to close the session with Ramesh’s permission at this point in time, because the Powerful Questions set him off into very deep and meticulous reflections and I shared in Direct Communication by Creating Awareness that it would be ideal and better, if he were to explore these dimensions and be constantly pondering and be aware, by having an intentional break between now and next session, so that it allows in time to sync in.
The interesting aspect was Ramesh acknowledging that the open conversation brought in clarity and could think through ways of managing frustration, which were his important Outcomes, stated at the beginning of this session.