Emotional engagement enhances Productivity

A previous post I wrote around “how emotion shows up for coaches” (click here to read that article) attracted considerable attention, and prompted further questions about how to handle emotions in clients.  The first thing to be said is that having clients talk openly and with curiosity about their emotions is precisely where most coaches dream of their coaching sessions being conducted.

source: acutakehealth.com

source: acutakehealth.com

It is rarely that easy however. We are a kind of “bunged up society” when it comes to discussing emotions. Not everyone of course. Some people are highly attuned to their own and other’s emotions, and are able to use that awareness to understand, manage and influence relationships very effectively. This is not the norm, however, particularly in traditional cultures where expressing emotions has not been encouraged and even frowned upon (this has been true in youth culture, corporates, within families, and even in schools).

Asking someone ‘how they feel’ about something, is often met with a blank expression, as if the question has been asked in a foreign language.

If an answer is provided, it is often expressed in terms of thoughts, rather than feelings (i.e. the answer will often begin with “I think….”).

Even when someone has understood the question and is attempting to get closer to what they do feel, it is not unusual to hear them say something like, “Hmm, let me think about that, yes, what am I feeling?”

In other words, people usually have to intellectualise, through thinking and language, in order to get to what they are feeling. It is as if our emotional layers are hidden away, Continue reading

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Coaching with emotion

We can’t stop ourselves having emotions. Indeed, why would we want to?  So, how do coaches coach from a place that ensures their emotions do not hi-jack their approach and derail the effectiveness of their engagements with clients?  What happens if you feel sorry for a client?  What if you get an overpowering desire to tell someone what they need to do?  What if something they say upsets you, or makes you angry?

Masterful coaches recognise that they can’t (and shouldn’t) block their own emotions, but rather, that they use these emotions to help them be a better coach.  By raising awareness of their own reactions and emotions, coaches can channel their coaching skills into better listening, richer rapport and deeper presence.

source: graciexela.blogspot.co.uk

source: graciexela.blogspot.co.uk

If your emotions leak into your questions, then they will lose impact, and judgements you are making will be transparent. If you are focusing on how you feel, you will not be listening fully to the client, and presence in the moment will suffer. Much better to be open and honest about emotions that are showing up for you. Sharing with a client that, “….this is making me feel uncomfortable right now, how is it making you feel?”, is fine. In fact, role-modelling the sharing of emotions in this way, may well help elicit a deeper exploration and sharing of emotion by the client.

It is when coaching reaches this emotional level that great things often start to happen, and progress and movement becomes possible.

The importance of engaging on an emotional level was discussed in a previous post called the The Upstairs & Downstairs Brain.

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What is Coaching anyway?

I am sometimes asked by people what I actually do when I’m coaching. Before I have started to answer, it is often closely followed by a question about the difference between counselling (or therapy) and coaching. Of course, there is the text-book answer. Coaching is not intended to work from a position of fixing people. Coaching is rooted in the principles that people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole.  And that is a good and important principle that coaches adhere to

In coaching we are seeking to provide people with the self-awareness to be able to come up with their own choices, answers and solutions, to take responsibility, and be empowered to improve and fulfil their potential. All well and good. Nothing wrong with that. The agenda is the client’s to bring to the coaching and it is not the coach’s place to ‘judge’ what is important to the client or not.

source: listas.20minutos.es

source: listas.20minutos.es

This is where it can start to get tricky.  People will often present (particularly in a business setting) with a problem they want to fix.  It might be a business-related issue that they are stuck with and they are looking to work out a way forward with it.  Coaching can provide the client with a useful sounding board for their ideas, for the coach to explore areas that are causing the client to feel stuck, can provide the independent, non-judgemental environment that allows the client to clear their head before stepping back in to the fray with a new plan of action. There is nothing wrong with that of course, and for many people it is a great service.  Some clients will say “I always feel so much better just talking to you.”

But, do our clients deserve more than this from their coach?   Continue reading