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What do you really think

Is there a right or wrong in a coaching conversation?

This week I have been reflecting on a common question that some of my clients have asked me ‘what am I am doing wrong?‘. I have noticed that I always throw back the question at them ‘what do you really think?‘. When I ask them ‘what do you really think?’, I am genuinely curious and truly interested. It is important to give people a chance to find their own ideas and to help them think for themselves. I really want to take them to a deeper level to remove those blocks. I am curious to know about the assumptions that they are making to label a situation as being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. What matters is what happens in their mind during that moment. I am the ‘Thinking Partner’ so I let them search and often they look away and they are quiet. When I let them search, I am silent. I have learnt that my silence can be very powerful. I have also discovered that being quiet for them means that they are busy thinking about my question ‘what do you really think?.

I see that moment as a privileged one and wish I could see what is happening in their brain. Our brain is a remarkable and complex structure. It is responsible for our thinking skills. Several parts of our brain work together to integrate information and develop thoughts. It is at that moment when they are finding their own answers that I often wonder which part of the brain (Prefrontal Cortex, Inferior Frontal Gyrus, Temporal Lobe, Parietal Lobe, The limbic system) helps them most in their ?aha? moment. I know that something profound is happening and that they are busy removing their limiting assumptions. They become free of their old thinking.

It ends with a positive turn when they stop being stuck, when they are starting to talk again, when they explain how they now have a clear response to my question ‘what do you really think?‘ and that no, actually being ‘wrong’ does not have to be an assumption when things do not go as planned or when there is pain. Sometimes we face difficulties not because we are doing something wrong, but because we are doing something right as Joel Osteen once said.

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