My coaching client was having trouble with his boss - now to the point of wanting to quit the company. For most of our hour-long coaching session a couple of weeks ago, he stayed stuck in his story of the misery inflicted by this tyrant. She didn't listen to him, appreciate him, or respect him. She had too little time, was too much of a micromanager, and was too rude.
I tried a couple of times to get him out of the story and into the values that were being violated and the needs not being met, but I didn't succeed. He just needed to vent, so I held the space for that - until the last 5 minutes of our call. Then I asked my question. "What would you like to see happen?"
There was silence on the other end of the line. "I'm not sure," my client said hesitantly.
"Would you be willing to give that some more consideration and focus on it during our next coaching session?" I asked. "It might be worthwhile, if you decided to do this, to review some of the notes from our earlier coaching sessions."
More silence. Eventually, reluctantly, he agreed.
When he phoned a week later, there was a different tone, a different vibe, in his voice.
He was articulate and clear in what he wanted to see happen. More importantly, he was talking about what he could do to make it happen. He had had a meeting with his boss a couple of days after our last call. He stayed calm, had the information she had requested, was confident in the conversation, and didn't let negative emotions get the best of him. He recognized that when he showed up this way, he got a better response.
The difference between the two conversations was stark. The transformation from angry victim to confident contributor was remarkable. The key to it, we agreed, was his willingness to take responsibility for how he showed up with his boss. The first conversation, he readily admitted, was focused on what his boss was doing to him. The second, to his satisfaction, was focused on what he could do with and for his boss.
As we explored the dynamics of the shift more deeply, he noted that he had decided to see his boss differently. He intentionally remembered the good qualities she had. He recalled conversations when those qualities showed up and reviewed how his actions had created the space for that to happen. He took a minute - literally, 60 seconds - to calm himself prior to the meeting, to rehearse what he would be curious about, and to be appreciative of the possibilities that might arise. That focused his energy - physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual - into positive pathways that opened him to positive potential. This reframing of the way he saw reality transformed the dynamics of his relationship with his boss.
He recognized this was just the beginning of a period of intentional practice of this new way of seeing things and new way of acting. It would take intention, attention, and lots of practice. He recognized that he would benefit from enlisting allies to help him with this shift in his way of showing up. And he was determined to make it happen.
This kind of transformation is the delight of coaching. It's not quick. It's not easy. But it does happen. Do let me know if you'd like to explore the possibilities that might emerge for you from this kind of coaching.