Turn Your "Negative" Reactions to Coachees into Transformation | by Julie Johnson MCC

Coachee and Client Having Conversation

In this column "Heart to Heart with Julie", Julie Johnson MCC shares sample coaching conversations and situations to help us grow. These are real coaching experiences that illustrate common issues we face as coaches, and Julie also shares her learning, ideas and practical tips to help you become a better coach.

Please share your thoughts, takeaways and your own experiences in the comments below!

These articles were first posted on Julie's blog, The Coaching Cube, and have been updated for inclusion here.

 In this article Julie offers a new way to look at a common coaching challenge...

Have you ever had an overly talkative client?

A few years ago I was coach-supervising a dear colleague, let's call her Victoria.

Victoria was sharing an experience not uncommon in our work as coaches—she was coaching a client who had a tendency to talk on and on about whatever was on his mind at the moment.

What happened:

  • As our coach supervision session continued, I could just hear the frustration in Victoria's voice as she related this story, and I shared that with her.
  • She replied, "Well, that's just it! It was difficult, but I decided to let him go on for about five minutes or so, because I wanted to feel fully how others might experience him."
  • I was having flashbacks of similar situations when coaching, and became really curious about how Victoria was feeling, so I asked her.
  • Victoria replied: "Well, at first I was concerned that this could go on for the entire hour, and that the only thing he would get out of the session would be the chance to 'dump' his stories. I was also worried that I would not be able to keep listening fully. Read: me not doing my job.""Once I decided to intervene", she continued,  "I realized that I had to actually interrupt him to get a word in edgewise, which would make me feel rude. But I broke in anyway, saying, 'Can we take a step back for a moment? I want to make sure that you get what you want out of this session. Is this how you want to spend our time together today?' "
  • Victoria's coachee was not surprised, saying that he had received feedback a number of times about being 'long winded'.
  • So the two 're-contracted' the coaching session, agreeing to focus on his 'longwindedness' instead.
  • Victoria then challenged him to make each and every point using no more than three sentences, which they practiced repeatedly. Her coachee immediately appeared more thoughtful, as he paused to carefully select his words.
  • So Victoria shared this with him, and divulged how different and better it felt to be with him 'before' versus 'after'.

Later Victoria learned that her coachee started applying this technique in the workplace and at home, receiving very positive reactions (unsolicited) from many. Eventually, her coachee made it a core part of his communication style moving forward, which had a significant positive impact on his interactions with others.

Here's my take:

When we experience various negative feelings while coaching someone, we can step back to analyze what is going on, and see our reactions as useful 'data'.

And if, like Victoria, we decide to share how we experience them, it just might offer the motivation they need to make a sustainable change for the better.

Now it's your turn:

We can begin by noticing our reactions to our coachees - especially the "negative" reactions. Don't judge yourself or your reactions, just observe, remembering they are "useful data".

Then as you get more comfortable, consider how and when you might share your experiences with them - in service of their growth, just as Victoria did.

Share your thoughts with Julie in the comments below.

Contributing author: Julie Johnson MCC, MIM is an Executive Coach, Coach Supervisor and Author. Her purpose is to help motivated people be at their best. She's passionate about spreading quality coaching conversations farther and wider, impacting the lives of people she'll never meet. Julie helps leaders develop an authentic Coaching Leadership Style so they grow next-generation leaders - and scale their own leadership. She also loves creating synergies by connecting 'the right people' with each other. Meet Julie in this short video here and learn more about her on her website here. You can also sign up for her monthly blog The Coaching Cube.

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Image of Coachee and Coach having conversation by fizkes via Shutterstock

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