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3D Ideas 936: Crossroads

Claire writes: “Mike & I have been in our new home for a week. You can have enough of unpacking, though!

In my walk to work (round the block and back to my home office) this morning, I decided that each time there was a crossroads in the path, I would test out every option. Starting with the first on the left. The first path was too muddy for my shoes, so I returned at lunchtime. It  took me into a huge open field with the new shoots of spring planting.  That’s one to go to and explore another day for a whole walk.  The next one was a dead end – but interesting to look.  And the one after that that turned out to be a driveway. Anyway, it was fun making choices and finding out what lay beyond the obvious.

In conversations, we hit crossroads or see new pathways all the time. Often the person with the perceived power sees them coming up and decides which will be the most useful one to follow. When this happens they say that the crossroads is there only after they have already taken the decision on direction. Working in partnership means noticing the crossroads as it’s coming up and asking ‘which way shall we go?’ even if you have a preference or believe it to be a dead end.

I am sitting with an insight from Nigel Wellings: ‘Never know first. Never know better. Never think you know.’   Coaching isn’t about forming hypotheses and testing out whether we were right. It is about keeping someone else company while they explore for themselves.”

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Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3d

3D Ideas 935: My Way

Claire writes: “Follow the leader was a game I remember playing in the school playground.  In those days we would rotate who the leader was in every game. Mostly. 

As adults I notice that we fall into the same pattern of following the leader. The person who is perceived to have the most power leads how the conversation goes – even when they think they are being collaborative. “Shall we do this first” is heard as “We will do this first”. “Let’s finish” is heard as “we must finish now”.

We encourage people to ask the question: “How shall we do this?” at the beginning of any conversation which can be collaborative (because sometimes the leader does need to lead).  Even though most people can’t answer, what  you have actually said is: “because we don’t need to do it my way”. Even if you don’t think you’re taking the power and leading, when your companion gives you the power, you still have it and they are following your lead.

Someone commented this week: The normal answer to “How shall we do this?” is “I don’t know…” but the flow of thought that I have seen coming after that is incredible. 

You can now listen to this blog through our podcast The Coaching Inn Subscribe on iTunes or podbean.  

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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 934: It Only Takes a Word

Claire writes: “Half a dozen people last week recommended that I read The Advice Trap by Michael Bungay Stainer. It’s just come out and they wanted to see if I agreed with what he says, and if it’s similar to Simplifying Coaching.

Well, I love its simplicity, agree with much, disagree with some and have enjoyed the way it has stimulated my thinking.  If the advice monster jumps in and you stop listening in conversations, the people you talk to will be glad you read this one!

One thing we agree on is the importance of interrupting when people are going round in circles or telling you a lot of story they already know.  In our training, we talk about future focussed interrupting. That means instead of saying: ‘Let’s go back to what we agreed at the beginning of the conversation’ which takes us backwards and feels a bit telling off like, that we can say ‘so, today?’ which keeps us moving forward and gets the focus back on what matters today. I love MBS’s question ‘and you?’ which is also future focussed and moves us to what’s in someone’s gift and away from what I call wavy people and he calls ghosts.

It’s amazing that it only takes one or two words: ‘today?’ or ‘you?’ to refocus a conversation that is lost.”

You can now listen to this blog through our podcast The Coaching Inn Subscribe on iTunes or podbean.  We had our first virtual drinks at The Coaching Inn last night which was great fun – thanks to everyone who came!

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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 933: Building Bricks

Claire writes: “I’ve been thinking a lot about tone these last few weeks and have come to the conclusion that pace, tone and timing can either facilitate conversations to be effective, or indeed make them feel like a car bumping down the road in the wrong gear.  Timing requires a combination of having a question pop up and at the same time watching to see whether it’s still timely or if it has missed it’s moment. That requires a great deal of humility.

The learning came, as you’d expect, from listening with someone to their coaching conversation. Early on the thinker said a word that was dropped when the processing moved on.  Later it became relevant again and the coach asked: ‘What about X?’ It was a bit jumpy because it felt like the coach was leading him off at a tangent. Even though the word came from the thinker, it felt new and out of place.  That was about tone. A more invitational ‘… and x…?’ would have had a different impact. Which got me thinking about Lego and other building bricks for children. When I used to sit with my small friends building lego models, the skill was to notice the bit they had found earlier and were now missing, and just to push it towards them.  A more direct “What about this red brick?” would make them think I wanted to redesign their model.”

You can now listen to this blog through our podcast The Coaching Inn Subscribe on iTunes or podbean.

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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 932: Hyde Park Corner

If you missed the launch part for Simplifying Coaching, you can watch it here

Claire writes: “When we drive from this village into the local town, it’s pretty much straight all the way.  I know how to drive, I pay attention. And I get there.  I only need to pay attention to driving – and to the space around the car. When I drive to London to our daughter’s flat and go round Hyde Park Corner, it’s a different skill. Not all the drivers in our house are confident enough to do Hyde Park Corner.  There’s a lot more vehicles coming and going that need attention.

We train people to have better conversations one to one.  They are skilled and able to do great work.  Those skills translate easily to working with groups – that’s one person facilitating the thinking of a group of others – or one to many coaching.  This is like driving on a road with more cars and is an easy stretch from one to one, if you take a bit of time to think through how it works.

Some work with groups is more like Hyde Park Corner – complex, noisy and with lots of things to notice all at the same time.  That’s where team coaching comes in and that’s what Alan and Alex do in their work with 3D Team.

We have decided to focus on offering training in 1-1 and give you the opportunity to work out how this might work for groups you’re part of.  If the work you do is like Hyde Park Corner, there are some great providers of Team Coaching training and we recommend you talk with them.”

Alan and Claire will be talking about group and team coaching and noticing what we are learning over drinks at The Coaching Inn on Thursday 18th March 18.00-19.00 (UK). It’s worth listening to some podcasts in advance which might provoke your thinking.  Alan on team coaching; Keith and Juliet Johnson talking about couples coaching and Kirsty and Andy Elderton from Australia on soccer and organisations. Also Episode 1 of The Coaching Inn was all about working with groups in churches. Access these through the links here or subscribe free to The Coaching Inn on iTunes.

Hope you can come?

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Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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 931: The Bass Line

Thanks to everyone who joined the launch party for Simplifying Coaching yesterday. It was great to have so many people with us.  We will share the recording as soon as it is available.

Claire writes: “Holidays at home are losing their appeal the longer lockdown continues.  Last week, an old friend was also on leave and we started embracing our inner youth and revisiting music we used to love and no longer listen to.  The melody and the words were refreshingly familiar.  We know that music. We listened to it over and over again in university common rooms.

When people come to conversations, we often play familiar melodies.  We share a melody and words we know.  And in coaching, if they are going to get new insights about their own stuff, it’s not the melody and the lyrics we need to be listening for and reflecting back.  When we listen through that and hear the bass line; when we notice dissonance not resonance, and when we offer that back – as a question… that’s where new insights come.  And that offer is all about tone.  When we offer  – accepting (silently) that we might be wrong, they will take the offer and make their own meaning.  When we make a statement we may end up in debate about whether it’s right or wrong.  People gain new insights when their thinking is in flow and they are exploring in a new or different way.  Listen to the bass line.”

You can now listen to this blog through our podcast The Coaching Inn. Subscribe on iTunes or podbean.

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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 930: Is There Anyone There? (aka Zoom Hygiene)

You are invited to a bit of a do! Open University Press are hosting a launch for Simplifying Coaching on Monday 1st March 13.00 2021 (UK) for an hour.  We would love you to come. Register here.

Claire writes: “It’s funny how something leads to new learning.  The YouTube sensation that was the Handforth Parish Council meeting got me thinking about Zoom meetings.  And Zoom hygiene.  

With everyone who can working from home, some people assume their full power confidently sitting in comfort in front of their professional screen in a well-equipped home office.  Others zoom perched on the kitchen table or even the bed – in places where they may not be at their best. This morning I ran a session on receiving feedback for the staff of an organisation around the world. Some were in the office, and some in the bedroom.  So in advance of a work meeting (or parish council), some useful things to think about are

  • where can I sit so that I can walk away after the meeting if this gets tricky because if you are sat on the bed the feelings that were evoked may stay with you
  • if I have to be in a bedroom and there is more than one, can I be in someone else’s room so I can walk away?
  • sitting in the middle of the screen feels quite powerful to others. If that’s not your intention, sitting slightly to the side is less formal (“I have experimented with slightly more sideways postures, and being off centre on the screen. It has made a huge difference! I find myself slightly more relaxed and at ease with leading a meeting, coaching or training session and, over time, it will be interesting to see what effects it has on those I meet with”.)
  • use a headset (even simple audio – no need for a microphone) – otherwise your colleague thinks they are having a confidential conversation with you when they are in fact talking to your household.  It also makes for extra background noise
  • and if you’re having a conversation with a colleague ask them: ‘Is there anyone else there?’ You might think it’s you and them. It’s useful to know if the children are there. Or a partner who might be judging what they are saying.

And finally, you can hide yourself.  After all it’s odd to have a 1-1 conversation when you’re watching yourself! Two of you and one of them also impacts the dynamics as well as being a nightmare if you’re self conscious!”

We will be running a couple of sessions for coaches who want to get more confident at working online. Email us at info@3dcoaching.com and we will give you priority booking when we get the dates.

You can now listen to this blog through our podcast The Coaching Inn. Subscribe on iTunes or podbean.

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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 929: Answer Smash

Claire writes: “ I wonder if you have got hooked on quiz shows in lockdown?  We love the BBC quiz Richard Osman’s House of Games.  The last round is called answer smash.  You have to identify a picture and a word and then the answer connects the two.  You have to be syllable perfect to win the point.  And the only way to win is to think yourself into the quiz setters mind to understand what they mean.

In conversations, we often ask complex questions where people have to play mind games to understand what we mean.  And if we aren’t word perfect, they will answer the question they hear – that may not serve their thinking.

Great questions come from what we see or hear or sense (or a great question we read in a book or heard someone else asking).  Saying what you see – without judgement – is the most powerful thing you can do.  And it unmashes the smash.”

You can now listen to this blog through our podcast The Coaching Inn. Subscribe on iTunes or podbean.

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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 928: Name the Elephant

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!”

You can now listen to this blog through our podcast The Coaching Inn. Subscribe on iTunes or podbean.

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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 927: Don’t be a Robot

Claire writes: ‘“If you call someone a thinker and ask them what they want to think about, does that mean that coaching is more about facts than feelings?” I have been asked this question a few times over the last few weeks.  

Thinker is an imperfect description of the person with whom we find ourselves in conversation. They are a wonderful human who brings all of themselves to this future focussed conversation. The STOKeRS questions that we use to rightsize the conversation together are a way of partnering to work out what we are doing today, how we are going to do it, and how we will know we have done it.

This might take a few minutes, and it might take most of the conversation. It requires a balance between being deeply human, and acknowledging that we are here to do some good work together.  So when someone says something – like ‘my job is at risk and life feels overwhelming’ we need to acknowledge that without affixing meaning to it.  That might sound like ‘that sounds a lot to hold’.  Great coaching comes from creating good boundaries around the work we are doing today and not diving into the work until we know what we are doing… and that doesn’t require us to be a robot!’

Next week I’ll be talking about how to avoid working too hard when you slip into feeling you have to help too much.

 

You can now listen to this blog through our podcast The Coaching Inn. Subscribe on iTunes or podbean.

 

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

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!

 

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