Being non-judgmental is one of the most important qualities for a coach to develop, if one intends to grow as a coach.
During my early coaching days and before every coaching session, I would take a few minutes to ground myself and put on my non-judgment glasses. I found that when I put it on, I would just listen to people and be with them.
My non-judgmental glasses helped me see the best in people, I looked at them as capable. In these sessions clients would have deep insights, breakthroughs, time would fly and these sessions were very powerful, both for my clients and me. After these sessions I felt like I could easily run 7 marathons!
But there were also times when I noticed that the sessions were dreary, no insights, it was a struggle, it seemed to go on forever and I used to feel drained after those sessions.
I used to either put the blame on the either my inability or the client. What else could it be?!
It was during one session with a client, that I began to realize that there was something that had changed. During the first few sessions, he was progressing, having deep insights, breakthroughs, taking action.
Now, suddenly he was different... not taking action, not having insights and I was beginning to look at the session as a struggle.
At first, I did my usual pattern of either criticizing myself or the client... and then suddenly, I became aware that I was wearing different glasses - Judgmental Glasses! I did not even notice when i had changed them!
When I wore the Judgmental glasses, I looked at what is wrong with people, I seem to pay more attention to their mistakes, they stop looking as a possibility to me. I looked at people critically and sometimes even disdain!
It wasn't about my ability or my client. I was wearing the wrong glasses!
Once I became aware of this in the session with my client, I immediately took them off and put on the Non-Judgmental glasses and things instantly changed! It was almost like magic! He began to respond differently, think differently, take proactive steps. It was like his mojo was back! (Mine too!)
Breakthrough time again!
It was such a profound experience for me that I made sure that I began to ensure that I was wearing the Non-Judgmental glasses most of the time.
Now, when I am working with people and things don't go the way that is intended, I stop and ask myself, "What glasses are you wearing?"
ps: Oh! and one more thing! When you look at yourself, what glasses are you wearing?
It caught my attention during my practitioner training, when Father Dick McHugh said "Confusion is good... Confusion precedes clarity".
When I first started coaching, I was too eager to help people reach their destination and I remember getting restless if I did not see people moving in what I thought was a useful direction.
If people started getting confused or seemed like they were resisting, my automatic response was to either stop the process or do something more and try harder.
I tried harder, but continued to struggle.
So, my cycle was,
Start Doing Process ->When they feel confused -> I try harder to get to result fast -> they get more confused -> then I get restless -> then I either give up or do a hotch potch job.
I struggled with it for quite sometime, till I began to understand that Confusion is actually a very important State.. it means that something is changing, that the process is working, new connections are being formed... and it is during this process that change happens.
I understood some important things about people and coaching.
1. Most people tend to work only at the conscious level and make changes at that level.
2. The deeper work happens when shifts start happening at the unconscious.
3. It is a good sign when people start getting confused... it means that something is shifting at a deeper level.
4. I just need to allow their unconscious to continue to do its work.
5. One the other side of confusion is clarity and a Breakthrough.
So, in my opinion, a very important skill for coaches is to work not just at the conscious level but also at the deeper unconscious level. Learn to Be Comfortable when client's get confused
Happy Confusion :)
Am sharing an experience that has been quite profound for me... something I experienced a lot last year and have shared it on facebook.
I'd like to share a process I go through almost everyday... an experience that is very profound for me... And it is a metaphorical experience.
I go for a walk in the mornings and after a 30 minutes walk, I reach the main road... I stand on the footpath and watch the traffic go past me on my left... I stand looking at the traffic flow and think of them as 'thoughts'... Thoughts flowing... fast, furious, chaotic... I also hear the noise of the traffic..
I then observe that my thoughts and notice that the experience inside mirror the traffic flow and noise on the outside...it is chaotic...
I then feel my feet solidly on the ground, and then, allow everything on the inside to slow down as I experience breathing becoming very very slow... thoughts slow down, I move into a world of my own... the traffic in my head slows down... the noise disappears... I am Still
I turn around and then stop for a few seconds... looking at the traffic (thoughts) flowing away from me... while also noticing the openness and vastness of the sky...in that moment, I feel that I have a choice... to keep my attention on the thought traffic or to bring my attention to the vastness of the sky... My attention then moves to the vastness of the sky.. and feel an expansion that is so liberating.
I gaze at the sky for a few seconds, feeling expansive... my mind and body even more still...I don't know why, but I feel a smile (it just happens :) and then I walk back home with this experience.
I love this experience and it is something that really liberates me every morning.
There are days when I wake up and feel lazy about going for a walk, but then this thought of experiencing the Stillness gets me to automatically move :)
This is a process I love experiencing everyday and I would recommend creating your own little metaphorical experience and your own little wonderful space... - Stillness, Expansion, Joy, Openness, Possibilities is what I experience...don't know what yours would be...
Why am I sharing this for coaches?
Just like the many vehicles zooming past us, our zillion thoughts and voices in our head can take us away from the experience of Stillness.
Transformation happens in Stillness and Thoughtlessness... I feel magic can happen in this space....
Hope you find your own special space...
A small exercise that I would invite you to take on on a daily basis is to practise 5 minutes of Stillness.
I think this would go along way in enhancing your ability to coach and work with people.
So here it is...
1. Sit down in a comfortable place and close your eyes.
2. Begin to become aware of your body and allow your body to gently relax.
3. Become aware of any internal sensations and again allow yourself to relax on the inside.
4. Become aware of your mind... and allow yourself your mind to relax.
5. Notice your experience on the inside and allow yourself to become Still.
There is no trying in this process... only allowing...
Remember, only 5 minutes daily... :)