Coaching

Last week, in a quiet café, I witnessed two intelligent people shouting at each other over a latte. Neither seemed once to listen to the other, in their twenty-minute heated exchange. I speculated that if I had interrupted them and asked each what the other had just said, they would have been unable to say… I was reminded of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, when the bard cautions us not to let life become a tale ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.

When we are learning to constellate, at first we pay great attention to developing skills and technique. While these are important, we also soon learn that they are completely insufficient – our clients are not helped as fully as they could be by the mechanics of methodology alone...

The various forms of Organisational Development, such as coaching, teambuilding, facilitation, consulting, leadership development and others, are forms of helping. Seen systemically, helping can strengthen, but it can also weaken – in part because it can establish dependence, and also the inner movement of wanting to help can put us above our clients, and therefore subtly infantilise them.

Being ‘solutions-focused’ as coaches does not always serve our clients. Heresy, perhaps, but I think we can be more effective when we orient to the underlying need of a client, which is so often about a desire to be resourced through the quality of the relationship alone, rather than through solving a problem.

I felt seething fury last week. I had avoided giving a colleague some difficult feedback about the impact working with him was having on me, and eventually he confronted me about the inevitable leakage of my irritation. I was not pleased with myself for avoiding giving timely feedback, nor was I best pleased with him for the public confrontation. While we ironed out our differences, the situation got me reflecting on how to have ‘courageous conversations’.