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  • Writer's pictureMel

What makes coaching conversations a breath of fresh air

Updated: Jan 28

I was asked the other day what made coaching conversations with me different from the typical everyday conversations. In this post, I’d like to share five points that came to me right away.


A woman standing outside with her eyes closed, holding a cup of coffee, possibly taking in some fresh air

1. It’s all about you, in a good way


We have a partnership of equals in terms of how we relate to each other, but it’s one-sided in this way: your coaching hour is all about you. We’re meeting in service of your growth, that’s it.


This means I’m not going to hijack your story and go, “Oh, you think your boss is horrible? Let me tell you that time when I had a boss who [insert story here].” The coaching hour is also not a time for me to preach my worldview or bore you with my biography.


It’s your time, your space. How often do you get that much uninterrupted time to spend on yourself?


2. You don’t have to plead your case


I’ve noticed that a sizable segment of people come to my coaching with what I imagine is an adaptation to some very difficult people in their lives: that they need to back up everything they say or think very carefully before they speak.


In our coaching sessions, you don’t have to feel or act as though you’re arguing before a judge or an examiner. You definitely don’t have to come in with bulletproof arguments or justify why an action item didn’t happen. You don’t have to work to win me over; I’m already on your side.


If I ask questions, I’m just trying to understand you better, make sure we’re on the same page as we speak, get you to go further, and have more information to use when we co-create next steps. Your answers are also for yourself – for you to listen to yourself and feel within yourself any resonance, doubt, conviction, etc. You may catch some murky bits or conflicting points, figure your way out, and surprise yourself with the creative solutions and positive energy you’ve unleashed yourself.


3. I have no stake in your life


It may sound harsh, but consider for a moment how liberating it can be as well: I have no stake in your life! This means I can’t fire you from your job, promote someone else over you, divorce you, stop being friends with you, or anything like that. You can “fail” or “disappoint” me with no dire consequences. Your success also doesn’t threaten me.


All this means that you don’t have to tread carefully around me (as long as you’re not abusive). You can let your guard down and free up all that bandwidth for self-discovery and creative problem-solving instead.


4. Ruptures always come with repairs


If I have an issue with you, I’ll bring it up with you using nonviolent communication or in a similarly direct and clear way. Any healthy relationship will have ruptures. I’m not afraid of them, and I’m all about repairs.


And if you have a problem with me, you’re encouraged to bring it up too. We never have to sweep things under the rug or just nod politely and move along. Every coaching session has time built in for feedback, and of course you’re welcome to give me feedback in real-time.


5. The full spectrum of human emotions is welcome


It’s not uncommon for people, well-meaning as they are, to invalidate or minimise someone else’s experiences and say things like “It’s not that bad” or “At least now you know” or “There’s no point feeling sad; let’s just focus on moving forward.” I get it – it can be hard to see someone in pain, to just sit with Yep, that happened, and it sucked, to not jump straight into problem-solving or finding some kind of silver lining.


In our coaching sessions, we make space for both feelings and actions. If you’re upset about a coworker who took credit for something you did, I won’t judge you for getting angry, ask you to get over it, or say you should’ve learned to speak up. Nor will you have to spend your precious coaching minutes telling me how the coworker probably didn’t mean to do that, cushioning your anger and ensuring that I know you have empathy. Or if we decide on some plan of action and it didn’t go well and you feel bad about it, that’s fine. That plan meant something to you, right? So it’s understandable that you’d be disappointed, crushed, doubtful, etc. Your experience is valid. We can process that before we move on.


And on the other end of the spectrum, we’ll celebrate your successes too. And of course, everything in between is also welcome. Progress often isn’t linear. I’m in for the ride. Are you?

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