Category: ICF 04 Coaching Presence

3D Ideas 865: Teflon

Claire writes: “I’ve just come back from a residential week in the Yorkshire Dales where people mid-career were reflecting on where they are, and how and what might be different in the next phase of their work. Like in a series of conversations, most of the insights and transformation came as they walked, talked to each other or stared at the horizon.

Several times, I was asked how I decompress after having more than 14 one to one conversations in 48 hours. Believe it or not, there was enough space in between to process that question. My job is to facilitate someone else’s thinking, wondering and meaning making. That doesn’t need me to think, or solve or make my own meaning. I need to notice well, say what I see and give you my full attention while we are together. Much of what was said in the last week, I have already forgotten. Because I didn’t take it in! My systemic teacher, Lynn Stoney calls this facilitator’s amnesia. It’s useful. In roles where I have responsibility for the stuff that is spoken about, I must take it in. When the conversation is all about you, you need my attention more than my memory. That’s why I don’t take notes.

And if I didn’t take it in, I won’t take it home, either.”

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3D Ideas 860: Permission

Claire writes: “I wrote about partnership a few blog posts ago.  This question is on my mind a lot: what is great partnership in a conversation?

Permission is needed for partnership or else I am doing the leading.  Is it useful to…? is a great question.

More significantly, permission is useful when we offer observations.  Otherwise it is mixed up and unclear about what’s from me and what’s yours.  ‘Can I make an observation… [this is what I notice – you are nodding your head and saying no at the same time] is more powerful than turning it into a question where we might lose the meaning [how motivated are you?].”

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3D Ideas 858: Whose Problem?

Clare T writes: “My son is in the process of thinking through if University is his best next step. Being armed with all the information and doing a thorough pros and cons analysis of each option is of course a priority. However, this is only part of the picture. Before he hits the “submit” button, choices need to be made.

This is the first major decision Dan has had to make and he is unsure he has skills and ability to make what feels like a massive, life shaping choice. Supporting him in this process has really brought to mind one of the 3D principles – keep the responsibility in the middle

Dan is keen to have our advice and guidance, which of course is part of our role as parents. He isn’t always very proactive and I could easily take responsibility for all the research and moving forward with the process. 

We can all recall times when it was frankly quicker and easier to “tell” someone what to do next rather than providing space and support as they think through a decision for themselves. At this stage, whilst the thinking takes place, it feels pretty supportive to him to know that the responsibility can be held in the middle, it is not mine to hold and nor does Dan have to hold it alone. When he is ready to make the decision and the thinking is done, the decision will be his and he will feel much more skilled and empowered to take it but until he is ready and at that point, the responsibility can stay in its rightful place of being in the middle. “ 

Do you have conversations with young people and find at times it’s easier frankly to “tell” rather than support them to move forward in their own thinking? Do you want more effective conversations? Join Claire and Ruth at a free webinar where we will look at how this can be possible. Tuesday 15th October 19.00 – 19.45 (UK)”

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3D Ideas 857: Hope

Claire writes: “Often on Transforming Conversations people say ‘I haven’t got any more problems to bring’.  It’s interesting how quickly we assume that 1-1 conversations are to solve problems.  They are equally useful to grow, develop and build on positive learning!

There are a number of ways that contracting sets an optimistic future focused tone in the conversation

  • What would you like to think about today? (Think rather than talk)
  • What would you like to be different by the end of our conversation? (Because it is our intention together to move this forward)

The hope is in the questions.  And that’s what sets the tone.”

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3D Ideas 855: Catching the Ball

Claire writes: “We have just been camping when there are always ball games to play with our small people.  There is nothing more irritating when you’re playing a game of catch than when the other person doesn’t throw the ball back!  Everyone who is playing is an equal partner in a game of catch.

Although a coaching style is partnership, our role is keeping someone company while they think.  That means we want their processing to be flowing, and we need to ask, or observe only enough to keep them in flow.  Which means that when I keep hold of the process, I am interrupting your flow. Phrases like ‘OK’, ‘Thank you’ may be polite – and they are also saying ‘Stop thinking – it’s my turn now’.  It is more effective to lightly throw the question back with future focussed questions – like so?, and now?

The only exception to this is that there are a few occasions where I need to stop and think and make connections between what I am noticing in service of your thinking.  And they are few and far between!”

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May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

3D Ideas 853: Connections

Claire writes: “We took Transforming Conversations to Cape Town last week to work with an organisation building capacity in local staff.  So much learning for me! Three things have happened in the space of a few days.

Firstly, as I left, they gave me a bag of gifts which included a card with this quote from Nelson Mandela: If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”  

Secondly, a delegate asked if he could dip out of the practice and read the manual. I said no! ‪It’s all about the practice‬ #ancient ‘One must learn by doing the thing; or though you think you know it you have no certainty until you try’ Sophocles 415BC‬

And then yesterday while I was pondering this at my desk, I received a text from a friend who’d just read The Thin Book of Naming Elephants “…leadership ultimately comes down to conversations and connections; asking questions; listening to responses; and ensuring that impact matches intent.”

This is why learning to work better in partnership matters a lot.  Conversations look different with different people. And we only know that when we get great feedback which is why practicing and getting feedback is terrifying… and extremely useful.”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2019

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

3D Ideas 848: 90 Degrees

Claire writes: “Last week included a talk at the UK Conference of the International Coaching Federation as well as our annual Transforming Conversations open course.  I think that I learned as much as the delegates!

The live coaching demo was done standing up.  I always do that because everyone in the room can see, and also we know that people think faster when standing.  The nature of the stage meant that we were standing at 90 degrees to each other (think two adjacent sides of a square).  As she was talking and thinking, she was facing forward. I stood next to her watching her create some great ideas. And I only spoke when she turned to look at me.  That clear invitation to me as the facilitator of her thinking to only speak when she invited me in by looking at me meant that it was easy to wait and not interrupt her thinking.

It worked on Tuesday, so we shared it on Wednesday!  It was so effective, that Alex and I watched as someone accompanied a thinker.  The coach’s face suggested full attention and no question forming. He was simply noticing and bearing witness.  And then the thinker pointed to the floor as they moved to a new and useful insight. The coach turned and started to look at the same place on the floor.  Now there was 100 degrees between them and they were looking in the same direction. The coach scratched his chin and we watched as he got sucked into the stuff.  The edginess was gone! I walked up behind him and silently tapped his arm to encourage him to move back to a side on position. He stopped scratching his chin and the edginess was back!  Time and again over the last 48 hours we saw the value of that 90 degree position which allows us to be with someone and shifts from the kind of position where we are talking to someone and end up being seduced by the story. This is probably easier when we are standing up than sitting down.  Try it!”

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3D Ideas 847: Reverse Coaching?

Claire writes: “I have just read an interesting article on reverse mentoring.  Alex, one of our systemic team coaches, says he has seen it work well.  For example with young graduate recruits mentoring senior leaders on their use of tech.

What about reverse coaching, I wonder? My current learning is about power and partnership. Coaching only works when there is enough capacity between the two people in the conversation to work in partnership. We teach a lot about keeping the responsibility in the middle by co-creating the conversation. Interestingly, even when people are great at not taking the responsibility in a conversation, it’s another lesson altogether to notice when the thinker gives it to you. Unless you give it back and return to co-creating you will still be holding it. Which puts the power out of balance.

We notice that this shared responsibility and co-creation can work even when there is a differential in role power when the coach, or the facilitator of the conversation, pays attention to make sure they aren’t doing all the work.  Even when they are the line manager.

So why not reverse coaching? We’d be interested to hear your thoughts?

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3D Ideas 845: Freezing

Claire writes: “I will always remember running a course on how to prepare for an interview when my co-facilitator shared their worst experience with the group. ‘The interviewer’s first question was: Why have you applied for the job?… and I froze’.

Good preparation can reduce the likelihood of freezing in interviews. Many conversations, however, can’t be prepared for and it’s common for people to get a version of ‘what on earth do I say now?’ or even brain freeze. When we are in conversation with someone else and encouraging them to think, our freezing can stop them thinking because they still experience what we think we are hiding!

In the improv pilot day at the end of last year, we all experienced the external version of freezing. It was terrifying and it was funny, and the work we did together in a space of trust enabled us to overcome some of the fear that makes a momentary freeze into something that disables us.

Presence and holding space well is a skill that’s important in leadership, coaching, presenting, and training as well as in theatre. I have travelled with a question for several years about whether you can teach this. And finally we tried it out with improv and it seems you can! Join me and Stuart Reid on Friday 11th October in Central London if you think that some attention to presence will support the work you do.”

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3D Ideas 841: Everything is Disposable

RitaE / Pixabay

Claire writes: “This week in Transforming Conversations we will be exploring the value of changing the medium to have better conversations. Instead of talking through a situation, people will draw it and their colleague will simply notice what they see. I always tell delegates that 80% of what they will notice is useless and 20% is useful. And the the things we notice – without judgement – often transform… when we offer lightly.

Exactly the same learning came when we were learning about presence with Stuart Reid. We spent a whole day doing theatre improvisation. There was so much deep learning (and laughter) that he will be running it again (11th October 2019 in Central London only 12 spaces). In coaching we offer questions. In improv we simply make an offer. And one of the principles of improv is that everything is disposable. 80% goes nowhere. The skill, of course, is to notice quickly and work out what to do next!”

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