Claire writes: ‘When I did my PCC accreditation as a coach, I had to rush home from a Christmas concert and phone the US to coach the person who picked up the phone.  It was a little nerve wracking to say the least.  When I asked him what he would like to think about, he told me what it was and that it had been a problem for 20 years. Now not only had I missed half a concert, but I had a huge sense of injustice and it felt like there was an elephant in the room that was now my problem to fix.  How dare he!? Out of frustration, not skill, I asked: ‘So what do we need to do in this half an hour so you aren’t thinking about it for the next 20 years?’

It worked, he was astonished, we moved it forward – and I passed! Unless we acknowledge what they have said, I think we get into an unspoken agreement that they think I’ll sort it out.  We work too hard, and we end up carrying a problem that is not ours. So if someone says something tricky at the beginning of a conversation, explicitly use it as part of the agreement of how you’re going to work together.

Here’s another example: ‘It’s completely overwhelming me’ becomes ‘What do we need to do in this half hour so it’s not overwhelming you?’

And acknowledging what is means you don’t accidentally pick it up!”

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