Claire writes: “‘How much do we need to remember when someone comes to us for a conversation?’ is something I get asked all the time.  My philosophy is that in coaching, people will remember the facts themselves – they’ve lived in x, y, z place and worked for a,b,c.  I remember the human bits – the name of a partner or a significant life event like a birth or a death.

People download in conversations. And you can’t possibly remember everything – and neither should you. The more you try and be remembering, the less you are likely to be attentively listening in the moment to other things they are saying – or not saying.

In coaching, we co-create the conversation together – working out what we are doing today, how we are going to do it – and how they will know it’s been useful.  And it’s the ‘how will you know?’ that we need to remember.  There are plenty of reasons for this. The agreement we come to about what’s the work we need to do today is rarely the actual work – because something deeper or different emerges during the conversation and we agree, mid-way, to change direction. But how they will know that today has been useful doesn’t change.  And it is a brilliant way of checking in on whether the conversation is on track – even when the subject changes on the way.

For example they say ‘I’ll be more confident’.  Rather than asking ‘what does confidence mean to you?’… ask them something like ‘when you’re even more confident, what will you call it?’  And then check in ‘how’s your confidence?’

A couple I’ve heard that stick in my memory are

‘I’ll have decided which side of the fence I’m on’ – so a checking in question might be ‘how’s the fence?’

‘I’ll know it in my knower’ – so a checking in question might be ‘how’s your knower?’

So if there’s one thing you do need to remember it is how they will know that this conversation has moved their thinking forward.’

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