#41 - Only When I'm Ready!
There is one very puzzling trait I find in myself and in others: we can’t, or perhaps refuse, to make sense of what is staring us right in the face…. until we’re ready. Months can go by without turning the pages on the calendar in our minds. We are stuck in neutral and that’s that!
I work with groups and individuals who continue on their well-worn path, stubbornly and unconsciously resisting every effort to shift their thinking to more resourceful states. And then, the lightbulb turns on! An idea that was casually dismissed just a few months before is now self-evident. It’s now part of their vocabulary and weaved into their psyche and actions, just like that.
So what makes us shift, sometimes in an instant, from “There’s no way!” to “Can’t stop me now!”?
In my experience as a coach and manager, there are really two approaches to supporting another person through the stuck patches: One works quite well, and the other one just doesn’t.
What doesn’t work: Preaching in the desert
Every human journey has its own rhythm. It doesn’t matter that you’ve experienced the dire consequences of staying on that perilous course, desperately wanting your clients to avoid the same fate. Each individual needs to own her/his personal and professional growth. Remember, as a manager and coach, it’s not your life to live. Also, are there areas of resistance in your life you have yet to take ownership for?
What can work: Listening without judgment
A generous listener can help shed more light on a given situation, and turn the impossible into the possible. Being given the space to think helps a person define, see, feel, understand the brick wall, eventually dismantling it to look at the other side. Make sure your questions are open and reflect a genuine curiosity, one that supports the other’s quest for meaning.
Also, the main advantage of listening instead of ‘preaching’ is that you may learn something you don’t already know. Maybe the dire consequences you imagined for this individual or this group, is only one scenario of which there are many others. Supporting others with doing it their way means that, once taken, they will own their direction. Then your work is easy: you simply need to get out of the way.
The next time, you‘re encouraging someone with moving forward and they’re still hitting that brick wall, ease up on and help nature runs its course. Be content with listening and probing occasionally, gently, until s/he’s ready!