3D Ideas 826: Change the Frame

Claire writes: “Last week was one of those weeks which hit many of us from time to time – there was just too much stuff. A late evening’s work and two phone calls in the middle of the night from my husband’s work were the straw that broke the camel’s back and Friday turned from a catch up day to a place of overwhelm.

Two things changed everything. Ruth diverted from a work trip and came into the office to add some resource. And we changed the frame. I had been unproductively asking the question ‘what do I need to have done by the end of Friday’. A better question was ‘what do I need to have done by the end of Monday?’. A new frame changed everything.

Which is ironic because changing the frame had been a topic of discussion all week – more about that next week!”

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3D Ideas 825: More than diagnosing

Sam, our health coach, writes: “As health professionals our desire to ‘fix it’ can sometimes get in the way of our patients living a more meaningful life. Here’s an example – In her 20’s she noticed her eye sight getting worse. She was prescribed eye drops to stop the disease progressing but it wouldn’t reverse the damage already done. Her eye drops affected her throat and left her unable to sing. Singing was her first love. She decided to stop using her drops as being unable to sing was much worse for her than not being able to see. She now makes her living from her voice.

Looking at things from a different perspective, the patient’s perspective, will deliver a multitude of additional options that will have a significant impact on their health. An impact that may be different to what the doctor ordered!

That ‘fix it’ mentality plays out in all the organisations in which we find ourselves and is why a coaching approach can be so useful. It’s also why we teach leaders to notice and not diagnose or prescribe.”

Sam is hosting a free webinar for health workers who are Band 7 and above who are interested in finding out more about the work we are doing around health conversations. Join Sam and Claire in our Zoom Room on 17th January 16.30-17.00 (UK). Feel free to share this invitation with anyone you know.

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3D Ideas 824: Transformation

Claire writes: ‘What a privilege to train people to increase the likelihood of their having transformational conversations! It’s not possible to ensure that every conversation you have engenders deep transformation. But we work with people to help them to lose the habits that prevent it from happening. Our definition of transformation is that someone understand something in a new way that makes a significant difference to what they do or think or feel. Hawkins and Smith call it ‘a shift in the room’. Others call it a lightbulb moment.

I saw transformation happen the other day in training and someone in the group quoted WB Yeats ‘All are changed. Changed utterly’. This always requires bravery – after all if someone has deep transformation, the conversation you thought you were having has moved not only to a new page – but possibly a new chapter!

And the first step? Listen with your eyes. You’ll see it in a flicker way before you hear it.”

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3D Ideas: 823 Managers Say That

Claire writes: ‘If we want to have a different kind of conversation sometimes we need to use different language. I think that’s because we learn how to respond without fully listening. For example many managers say ‘Do you want to explore that?’ when they actually mean tell me. ‘Is it useful to explore that?’ might be a more useful question.

It might be useful to notice in the next couple of days if things don’t land as you expect where you could change the language.’

And if you’ve heard me talk about my dislike of why questions, you might be interested in this blog

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3D Ideas 822: Challenging not Scary

Claire writes: “Rapport is an important part of conversations – enough rapport – because too much rapport building, I think, can set a tone to a conversation where it’s more difficult to get the work done. Pre-conversations can help here. What I mean by that is that we chat first and then ask ‘are we ready to start the work now?

It’s interesting to notice, having just started off a number of Transforming Conversations courses in different organisations over the last few weeks, that many people see rapport-building as good and challenge as bad/difficult/uncomfortable.

Kim Scott, in Radical Candor, talks about caring personally and challenging directly (her definition of radical candour) and she describes high personal care and low direct challenge as ruinous empathy. Sharing this insight in organisations has caused a number of people to ask ‘are we too soft?’. Challenging doesn’t have to be scary especially when it is based on real observable data with no judgement. Saying what you see without judgement is a skill worth refining which makes those difficult conversations much easier to navigate.

You’ll be aware that we work across organisational cultures. A recent conversation with colleagues in the USA has led to us hosting a ‘Are we too soft? How did Jesus challenge?‘ in November for people from churches globally. We hope to run a secular version of ‘Are we too soft?’ in the future.

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3D Ideas 821: 80% Useless

Claire writes: “If only everything we said in conversations with others was useful! Except it isn’t. There is no such thing as a perfectly executed conversation.

One of the things that we observe is that at least 80% of what we notice in coaching conversations is without value. And about 20% is really useful. I have no idea which is which, so my role in a conversation is to lightly notice what I notice (with a question mark rather than a definite diagnostic tone), to not get precious when it misses and to notice when it lands deeply.

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
R. D. Laing

And never apologise when it misses – your apology makes what you are saying about you and may block the moment where someone was just about to have an insight. Just move on!”

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3D Ideas 820: Beetroot

Claire writes: “We had a few parties over the summer and ended up with a fridge full of leftovers. My favourite is the beetroot and lentil salad. That means that when someone in the family says ‘What can I eat?’ and we go over to the fridge, I’m likely to point out the beetroot first! And probably keep pointing it out. Ellie doesn’t like it! What she wants to eat is probably tucked away at the back behind the big tub of… beetroot.

When we use a coaching style and are exploring, the exploring is in service of the thinker not the coach. Noticing is one of the greatest gifts we bring to coaching… as long as we notice together and don’t keep on noticing the beetroot!”

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3D Ideas 819: Neither From Nor Towards

Claire writes: “Holding space, or presence, is one of the greatest gifts of leadership – and an essential in coaching. TS Eliot describes it as
‘At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is’

Presence is intangible, hard to describe and obvious when it’s missing from a conversation. The only way to develop it is in an embodied way. A while ago, we invited a musical conductor to teach us how to conduct. Conducting requires presence. Something needs to happen in the space between the conductor and the orchestra to make the music happen. The conductor can’t make it happen. The music is co-created.

And so it is with improv where something happens between the audience and the performer. So on the basis that you can only develop presence experientially, we are delighted to be offering a workshop in Luton in December with Claire and Stuart Reid, who is a coach and has a lot of experience in improv. We’d love you to come!”

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3D Ideas 818: Declutter

Claire writes: “August’s overwhelming task happened to be domestic. And it was good practical, and observable learning about managing big stuff.

After decluttering our house, which is always a task for August, I’d been looking forward to an unplanned and spacious week to myself, when my parents decided to downsize and move to an apartment. The week turned into a decluttering trip. Given that they downsized into this house 8 years ago, they’ve decluttered before and don’t have that much stuff… yet when I arrived there was a huge array of tasks that I could have done to be useful. The clear head from a summer off meant that instead of asking where they wanted me to start, I asked what they wanted to be different – in their dream world – by the time I drove home. So the glory hole was cleared and the garage sorted and on the way to being clear. A practical example of why Covey’s idea to ‘begin with the end in mind’ can be so powerful.

I’m trying to hold onto that learning as I re-engage with the business. And I have learned a different purpose for the coaching question ‘is this useful?’. In fact we have put a few bits in the garage with labels on that say ‘recycle in 2019 if I haven’t been used’. We think they may be useful and if they’re not they are going. Because the other ‘end in mind’ is that if we store things just in case, we are also storing up stuff that someone else may need to deal with!”

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3D Ideas 817: Peer Review

Claire writes: “We are back at our desks after a slow summer and time to think. I’ve been thinking a lot about how professionals grow and develop – whatever their area of work. Professional Development can be about skill or knowledge or a combination of the two. Some questions I find useful are:

  • What (or who) am I developing for?
  • Therefore – what is the most useful thing I can do that will serve that?

In coaching, I hope that we are developing so that we can better serve the people who come to us to think and explore and be challenged and to serve the organisations, communities and societies where they work. That’s why we value professional accreditation where people are willing to work on their skills, be heard having real conversations, and receive robust and supportive feedback.

Any development we do is ultimately in service of those with whom we work and the value of working with real observable data is enormous. So much so that I am wondering about inviting those who come for supervision to also bring a recording of a live session they have had. Recording real conversations with real people has ethical implications that need to be managed carefully. And whatever our profession – doctor, manager, supervisor, leader, priest… it is a very useful way of becoming more effective. It’s scary too… but there is a limit to the effectiveness that comes from only bringing self-reported data to our professional development.

I’m not the only one who has been thinking about this over the summer – congratulations to 3D’s Sam Walker, and to Mandy and Jenny who have also trained with 3D and been awarded the Associate Certified Coach credential from the International Coach Federation during the last few weeks.

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