Approachable and Coachable
October 10, 2020
Coaching can be powerful.
Done well, the experience can multiply leaders and transform lives.
I’m fortunate to have friends who actually have the word “Coach” in their titles. I’m always learning a lot from them. In addition, part of me thinks that there are elements of coaching interwoven through all parts of our lives.
A few weeks ago, a friend reached out to me to share a personal challenge he was going through. This was a MAJOR share–with volcano-like vulnerability.
In the first few minutes, all kinds of thoughts raced through my head. Here’s how my mental space flowed in our conversation. Literally, these were my exact thoughts. After all, as a friend, I want to be…
- Shock: Oh. My. Goodness! I can’t believe that’s happening!
- Wait–Given all-things-2020, it’s very believable.
- Shock: Oh. My. Goodness! I can’t believe he shared that with me!
- Wait–Why did he feel comfortable sharing that with me? Because we have a great relationship, built squarely on the firm foundation of trust.
- Wow! This is vulnerability I don’t see every day!
- Because he extended vulnerability like this, in a way, I trust him even more, and I now feel even more comfortable and open to be vulnerable with him, too.
- FIX THIS RIGHT NOW! Because I care deeply about my friend, I want to help. I’ll be “Mr. Fix It!”
- Wait–Maybe he doesn’t want me to fix anything. I’d better listen closely so I’m educated in case I can help later on.
- Empathy Spiderweb: Oh, that reminds me of… ME! I went through very similar experiences! Maybe I should shower him in several stories about myself to level the playing field and make him feel better.
- Wait–This is not about me. This is about him. Talking too much and trying to one-up or spotlight myself would be inappropriate.
- Extend More Help! I know–I won’t fix it, but I’ll indirectly recommend resources. After all, he came to me for help. I have to appear knowledgeable with expertise.
- Wait–We’re not there yet. He’s aware of resources. This is not what he needs or wants right now. This won’t help. Maybe I don’t need to say anything at all.
While on the receiving end of the conversation, my goal was to be approachable. I’m glad that I did not act on the BOLD impulses (this time–like I’ve mistakenly done in the past).
I’m glad I was able to process and Wait. This friend means a lot to me.
I think I know my role, here. In fact, I think that anyone who has the Approachable mindset might be Coachable, too. This relationship dynamic is powerful. What if each of us was both approachable and coachable?
I think I know what to do now.
As the conversation continued, here was the rest of my thinking:
- SHH! Don’t say anything. Listen.
- Listen to details. Listen for tone. Listen without thinking about how to respond. Listen to feelings. Listen for context. Listen to hear.
- Ask This Question: Do you want to me to give feedback or do you want me just to listen?
- Either way, I’m here.
- Provide Space: Be available to continue the conversation, but don’t smother and overwhelm a friend already in a tight spot.
- The timing doesn’t belong to me, and I don’t need to be in control. It’s not about me.
- Follow-Thru and Follow-Up: With all the bright flashes and social media fireworks, my attention span can be challenged.
- Stay the course. This means a lot to my friend. Be there. Be present.
- Relationship: What made this conversation possible in the first place? A relationship built on trust. Trust is everything. Without trust, you have no potential to engage in the deeper, meaningful, transformational experiences.
- Pause–Paraphrase–Pause–Pose Questions. I just remembered this strategy that I learned from a friend! Did I do that here? How might I demonstrate this better next time?
- Vulnerability: If this friend can reach out for help, and with vulnerability like this, then why don’t I do that more often, too? After all, I could use some help on at least a few things of my own.
I believe there are aspects of coaching in every relationship, conversation, and situation. Perhaps in your friendship, your marriage, hallway talk, and all amidst 2020 no less…
What if being a good listener is the best thing to do?
The real questions are: What’s my role? What does my friend need? Who does he need me to be? How can I best serve in this situation?
These are things I’m constantly working on.
Have you had any conversations like this? How’d it go? What did you learn that you might share to help others?