Coaching in the Dark

Beautifully written piece about “coaching in the dark” – and one more reminder that we never know “what is good and what is bad…”

* As always, we support a clear delineation between coaching and therapy – and encourage you to consider the guidance in the ICF Code of Ethics when determining whether to coach or refer a client who may be better served by a therapist.

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The Magic Carpet: A Conflict Management Tool

Whether you’re dubious or curious, you gotta admit that title’s got game. But it’s no game when a parent is trying to referee the fourteenth instance of the same argument (this week) between two kids.

The following solution* involves a “magic carpet,” a “talking stick,” and a bit of hubris:

We have a magic carpet in our home. To the untrained eye it appears to be a small oval rug that sits in front of the fireplace. It serves as a safety net should burning embers make it through the fireplace screen and fall onto the floor. The protective nature of this rug is an important and appreciated function, but is not related in any way to its magical attributes. Our magic rug plays a more important role. It produces magical and elegant solutions to family conflicts. This is how it works.

Last week, Austin began an algebra unit in his 5th grade math class. His older sister, Chelsea, has been studying Algebra throughout her 8th grade school year. When Austin made an error on one homework problem, Chelsea leaped to the rescue. Fashioning herself as a future math teacher, Chelsea saw this opportunity as a chance to practice her trade. There was a slight problem, however. Austin did not want to be the practice dummy. A light disagreement began, gradually escalated it’s way into bickering, and then bloomed into a full blown argument, complete with angry tones and loud voices. Read More…

So coaches, listen up: this idea can work for “kids of all ages,” and the “carpet” can be any defined space – for example, a masking tape rectangle on the floor. So next time you need a conflict resolution tool in your coaching (or for a workshop), pull out your “magic carpet,” and watch what unfolds!

*Thanks to friend and colleague Norb Rozanski for sharing this piece with me.

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The “I Don’t Know” Client

Although there are numerous reasons a client might respond to a question with “I don’t know,” many of them seem to fit into one of three categories:

  1. They’re lost or don’t understand the question.
  2. They’re overwhelmed by the number of answers that occur to them.
  3. They’re afraid to acknowledge the truths that surface (for example, they might not trust they have the resources to handle “going there”).

As a coach, the first two items are fairly straightforward to address. You can:

  1. Ask where they got lost, and if necessary, repeat, paraphrase or dismantle the question.
  2. Invite them to sit with the uncomfortable feeling and notice what comes up. Reflect and validate what surfaces; then help them lean into the wisdom of higher self or a series of perspectives. This often provides enough clarity and insight to reveal best next steps.

The third situation, however, can feel murkier. Read the rest of this entry »

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