10 things I've learnt from 10 years of coaching
As the year draws to a close I’ve been reflecting on the past 10 years of my Executive Coaching. Coaching is a humbling experience. It’s a rare privilege to be invited into someone else’s world to support them in profound and important ways.
As someone who specialises in influence, engagement and interpersonal impact, I’ve been invited to work with leaders in different countries, in different industries and from different backgrounds. One thing I’ve noticed is that whether I’m coaching a leader from Canada, Sweden, or Bulgaria or working with my clients here in Australia, our diversity as individuals is nothing compared to our similarities as humans.
Whilst people are different, unique and often surprising, in many ways we are equally predictable. It’s these patterns of behaviour that help me help my clients impact those around them in ways that build respect, visibility, trust, and engagement.
Here are some of the patterns I’ve noticed over the last 10 years. May this list fast track your own interpersonal impact and prepare you for the year ahead!
1. Your responses are normal
Clients often feel like they are the only ones thinking or feeling a certain way. They are not. Many people share their responses, their thoughts and feelings, as hard, confronting or unpleasant as they might be. Your responses are human responses and on some level are shared by us all.
2. You don't want to be changed
Clients sometimes fear that coaches will try to ‘fix them’ or turn them into someone they are not. That’s not my job. You are not broken. I’m not here to fix you. Over time clients discover ways that they can adapt more effectively to the situation at hand without changing personalities.
3. You’re not sure you can change
“I’ve been this way for a long time, it’s going to be hard to change.” Past behaviours are not a sentence for future behaviours. People can and do change… all the time!
4. People see your changes when you share your changes
When working on new interpersonal behaviours, it helps to bring others on the change journey with you. Sometimes others won’t notice your new behaviours if you don’t signpost your efforts for them. Sharing your new intentions and actions with others can be helpful as the very idea that you are working to improve yourself can cause people to think you have already begun to improve… even if you haven’t - yet. ;)
5. Change your mind to change other people
When improving relationships with others, clients often wish the ‘other people would change first’. Whilst this is understandable it’s not practical. It’s not possible to coach people who aren’t in the room and haven’t asked for coaching! It is possible however for clients to choose to see people in a different light. Ironically the sooner clients see others more positively the more often the other people end up changing too.
6. Strength is weakness and weakness is strength
It’s an empowering moment when a client realises that real strength can come from vulnerability and the intimidating strength of others can come from a place of fear and doubt. When strengthening relationships and engaging hearts and minds, being strong in soft ways can be a game changer.
7. Frustrations call us into our future
The conflict, resistance, or irritation we experience with others is a guaranteed portal to personal and professional development. Within every conflict is the seed for sustainable resolution. Don’t shy away from the frustration; embrace it as your fuel for development.
8. Pushing, forcing or controlling the situation prolongs the problem
As soon as clients let go, give up, give in, bow down or back off, the quicker they get what they want. I know right? Strange but true. Often the thing you don’t want to do will be the thing that moves the situation forward. Don't fight it; just go with it.
9. The issue is rarely the issue
People are complicated. Sometimes we react in ways we don't understand and can feel frustrated by patterns we can’t seem to break. Through coaching, clients get to explore what’s really going on and address the prevailing patterns that are unconsciously running the show. You never know where the conversation will go and that’s a good thing!
10. Change takes time… and sometimes it doesn’t
Outcomes from coaching rely on many factors including the change required, awareness levels, the environment, support, what’s at stake, level of understanding or ability, opportunity, commitment, and much more. Some clients are primed for quick change and others take longer. The speed doesn’t reflect the depth or capacity for change; it just is what it is.
And finally….THANK YOU!!
To all my clients past and present, thank you for welcoming me into your world and trusting me to support your potential and progress. It has been my honour to work with you.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Anneli is an author, speaker and communication expert (a.k.a professional People Whisperer), who helps her clients improve their communication, influence and engagement. She’s obsessed with decoding people dynamics for improved performance and specialises in interpersonal intelligence - the ability to understand and navigate the people dynamics in a given situation.
Anneli is the co-author of Developing Direct Reports: Taking the guesswork out of leading leaders. She is currently working on her next book, ‘Decoding Resistance: The real reason people won’t do what you want’, a practical guide for increasing buy-in, reducing push back and navigating the daily barriers that impact influence, engagement and change.
2016 Talks & Conferences
It's been a big year for my speaking calendar. Clients have included:
Australian Institute of Training and Development, Ansell, ANZ, Corning Cable Systems, The EAN 2016 conference, Ernst & Young, State Trustees, CPA Congress, The EA Circle, LearnX, L&D Masterclass, VIC ICT 4 Women, and Women in Payments Symposium 2016.
Credible Communications has been a popular topic with many enthusiastic audience members reaching out after the session:
“I knew that I wasn't as credible as I wanted to be and it was reassuring to know that my communication style can be improved by using straight forward techniques (you do not need to be an extravert to use them convincingly).”
“I really enjoyed it. Anneli was very entertaining and I found her advice to be incredibly useful.”
“Thank you for the seminar, I thought it was a terrific topic. I found the session to be incredibly valuable and it has definitely increased my awareness of how I come across when interacting with people.”