3D Ideas 781: Me or Us

Claire writes: “Noticing what’s going on in conversations is much easier when we are observing than when we are in the thick of it. I have known for a long time that being useful is more effective than being helpful. This week, in conversation, there was some useful insight into what makes that true.

  • When I say “Is this helpful?” I may be implying “Am I being helpful?”
  • When I say “Is this useful?” I am asking “Is what we are doing together useful?”

It’s not about what I do that makes a conversation useful – it’s about what we do together.”

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3D Ideas 780: Coddiwomple

Claire writes: “Coddiwomple, Sam tells me, means to travel purposefully towards a vague destination. I love that – because like others I am often unclear where I want to head when I am being coached. And, indeed, our business plan is more about direction than destination. Not everyone likes goals or targets, so it’s useful to remember that when we are working out in a conversation (or contracting)

  • what are we doing
  • how are we going to do it
  • how will we know we have done it

that a sense that we’ll feel it can be enough. It’s still important to be clear what we are doing – even if that’s to agree that we don’t know and that it will emerge! For some of us, ‘to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive’ (Robert Louis Stevenson)

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3D Ideas 779: Time

Claire writes: I think it’s a Swahili proverb that says ‘time the time before the time times you’. As a teacher in a rural Kenyan secondary school, it was a mantra of some of my students. When we are training, we often hear people say that mentioning the time is rude. Might it suggest I don’t value you? Might it collude with an ‘in a hurry’ mentality?

For all our hang ups, being unconditionally positive about time can give an edge to a conversation that makes it even more effective. As long as we don’t apologise and we start mentioning time early.

Instead of saying

  • ‘I only have 5 minutes’ try being positive from the very beginning ‘We have 5 minutes, how shall we use it?’
  • ‘We are out of time’ try (a minute or so before ‘Have we finished?’
  • ‘We only have a couple of minutes left’ try ‘In the couple of minutes we have left is there anything else we need to do?’

And I learned this summer that using this approach at end of life was equally useful: ‘Given that [someone] is going to die, what do you both need to do between now and when it happens to make sure you both end well?’

If you’re going to do this well, you need a watch or a clock. A smartphone means you can’t optimise the time. Unless you’re one of those people who knows exactly how long time is!

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3D Ideas 778: Connections

Don from Coaching at End of Life will be running 8 hours online training for us on Mondays 19.00-21.00 UK time starting 25th September for anyone who has done our 4 day programme or equivalent. Last chance this academic year.

blickpixel / Pixabay

Claire writes: “People often come to conversations with a list of stuff they want to talk about. More often than not, before launching into the list, a useful question can be: ‘What’s the connection?’. It enables the person to go beyond the symptoms and think about what’s behind the stuff.

It worked for someone brand new to coaching on Transforming Conversations last week, and has been useful getting underneath stuff with someone this morning. And if there isn’t a connection, don’t apologise – simply move on – it’s only taken a few seconds to ask”

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3D Ideas 777: A Good Cry

StockSnap / Pixabay

Claire writes: “I have learned many things from Don Eisenhauer at Coaching at End of Life. The most useful at the moment is the value of having a good cry. Don told me that when much of your work is dealing with heightened levels of emotion in others and yourself, that watching a tearjerker and having a good cry is a good and healthy way to release some emotion.

Whatever your organisation, there will be emotions around and this is particularly true in the caring professions. I have a day off this week, and my plan is to watch a tearjerker.

Don will be running 8 hours online training for us on Mondays 18.00-21.00 UK time starting 25th September for anyone who has done our 4 day programme or equivalent.”

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3D Ideas 776: What’s a question

Claire writes: ‘A question isn’t a question if it contains the answer! ‘

 

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3D Ideas 775: Weird Words

Claire writes: “The number one reason that people don’t apply what they are learning about coaching into every conversations at work is that they think it sounds weird to say: ‘Can I coach you?’. It probably does – and it sounds like you’re about to do something to someone. Given that coaching isn’t magic, and fundamentally is a conversation with someone that’s only about them, it can be used at work easily. It’s even great as triage – let’s talk about what kind of support you might need…

Some things people find work:

  • Shall we talk about that in a different way?
  • Would you like me to help you think about that?

Or if you’re worried about getting the contract right, give them a STOKeRS card and say – these questions might help us start our conversation well – why don’t you have a look and talk through them.”

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3D Ideas 774: Tennis

Claire writes: “Johanna Konta’s tennis secret is to trust the process – whether it’s the first game or match point she does what she has learned works. The most common feedback we get at the end of our 4 day Transforming Conversations course is that it works. And that always comes from someone who has started out very sceptically.

Maybe it’s the season, because tennis metaphors have been useful learning this month. When we think about pace in conversations, we needs a smooth flow between a question and a response. As I listen to people developing a coaching approach, it’s also noticeable that sometimes questions feel like a serving machine. And sometimes the person facilitating the conversation catches every response and holds onto it while they work out what to do next – when the person thinking just needs a tiny phrase to keep them thinking. Pace is an art – and one which needs to be co-created. (and on the subject of tennis, a surprising volley can also be useful in moving the game on)”

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3D Ideas 773: Change Chairs

Claire writes: ‘We have a sofa in our meeting room which usefully gives people a variety of choices where to sit. The other day someone came in, made themselves comfortable on the sofa and said that to be able to think they needed to download some difficult stuff first. Which they did.

Then they indicated that they were ready to move forward in their thinking. It felt heavy, so I invited them to move up to the other end of the sofa. What happened next was extraordinary. Any time that the past came up in her conversation, they said ‘but that belongs over there’. Which allowed them to own the stuff, and to move on.

That’s another example of where moving works. In his book Rest, Alex-Soojung-Kim-Pang explores some research about why that’s true – it has some interesting insights.”

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3D Ideas 772: Pinning Down

Claire writes: ‘”Don’t interrupt”. Spoken or implied, that’s a message most of us had wired into us as children. So when we are in a conversation where we are thinking “what is it we are can usefully do here”, we don’t interrupt.

A coaching style demonstrates that we can learn to stop interrupting people’s thinking and start interrupting when they are repeating stuff they know already if it’s not useful to them.

Try interrupting talking with short contracting questions

  • So today…?
  • And your question for us today is: How can I…? (NB the I is them not you!)

And try not interrupting thinking by listening with your eyes – by watching theirs.”

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