Create a safe environment.
For a 10 month old this means one in which they are physically safe to explore their world, and one where they feel secure. For a coaching client it means a space where they feel free and safe to explore whatever they need to.
Pay exquisite attention.
We naturally pay exquisite attention on what they are doing because we revel in their learning and discovery – and they reward us by doing more or getting further with every attempt. I’d like to give the same level of attention to clients.
Repeat what they say.
Despite the fact that it makes no sense to us we happily play back to them every utterance. This lets them know they’ve been heard them and they get to hear their outputs again. I’ve no doubt they use this feedback loop to develop their language skills. For a client feeling heard and hearing their words back is powerful and often generates insights.
Within the context of keeping them safe, whatever they do we praise and encourage them. What would happen if we had a similarly positive approach to more of our adult interactions?
At this age we don’t scold or criticise, we stay resolutely positive about everything they attempt. We build on what works rather than try and change what doesn’t. It is hard not to make comparisons (judgments) with other children, but the reality is that it is of no help to them whatsoever. Are clients celebrated for who they are?
Trust them and ourselves.
We trust them to know what is right for them. When they decide to go to sleep in the middle of a story we don’t take umbrage – we think of it as a job well done. Are we as comfortable with trusting a client to have their own best answers?
Finally of course there is the big advantage of being a grandparent – you get to have all this joy and then their mum and dad have them back for the sleepless nights. Maybe relationships with clients are similar in this respect as well as they go back into their organisation, business or family?
It would be great to hear if any of this chimes with you and how your experience is different.
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