Clients know that early in the coaching session their coach will ask them what they want to FOCUS on for the session. Seasoned coaches will explore this further to have the client identify MEASURABLES by asking how the client will know they have gotten what they wanted from the coaching conversation. Master coaches will listen to who the client is being as the conversation progresses.
Recently my client said to me that he wanted to focus on eliminating stress. On further probing we agreed that eliminating stress was a very big stretch and a more realistic outcome would be to MANAGE stress. He said he would know that our session had been of value if he left with a strategy, felt calmer, and had some actions to take. Here is what he came up with in our 45 mins:
1. Lighten up vs tighten up by using humour more
2. Set aside non-negotiable self-reflection time and realistically quantify it (x mins)
3. Regular exercise set as a priority (endorphins)
4. Plan sleep so no more all-nighters (get up early instead)
5. Eat for energy vs eat for comfort (enrol a supportive buddy)
6. Data-dump projects on paper vs swimming in the head (mind-map)
7. Continue self-care and grooming vs letting these slide
8. 3N’s – Notice, Name and Neutralise distractions/tolerations
We can also Notice, Name and start to Neutralise the stress itself. By noticing and naming he was stressed he was able to manage it. By managing stress, he was able to stay out of overwhelm and make a strong start to neutralise it. Once we are in overwhelm it is difficult to think straight let alone come up with useful actions (limbic system hijacks our prefrontal cortex).
At the end of a coaching session I asked my client what he valued or appreciated from our discussion and he said:
· Having a strategy with actions
· Being Heard
It is important we manage expectations when our workplaces and our lives are stressful. It is how we handle the stress that matters. By noticing it not in a weighted way, that is with no judgment of right/wrong or good/bad, we can remain neutral which is a place we can respond (vs react) from. Coaching sessions give us a place and the space to move to this neutrality.