On biting your tongue – and being authentic

I had to seriously bite my tongue when the moving truck finally arrived: 5 days late, with all my plants probably dead; significant extra cost; terrible planning; mostly non-existent communication; lots of blatant lies and definitely outrageous customer service…

“Be political!”, my wife urged me, as I prepared to meet the movers downstairs.

“I’m being fake”, I thought, and the part of me that highly values authenticity protested loudly.

So I searched within for some empathy. Which I found, then argued away, next I re-connected to it, and finally I offered the guys coffee and breakfast.

It felt genuine at that moment. There was going to be a time to share some “honest feedback”, but this wasn’t that time. The logical, not-particularly-empathetic part in me agreed that that was the right strategy.

I even came to really like two of the three men. After all, most likely none of this was their fault. In fact, they probably suffered much more than me – they were the ones who had to carry 257 items onto the 4th floor in central Berlin, with no lift thanks to the utterly incompetent organisation of their employers.

If I had given way to the emotional outburst that had been lurking underneath a relatively calm surface, I reckon things would have escalated and nothing good would have come out of it.

I did get to say my piece at the end of the day (a 16-hour day, mind you), and while I would have preferred the timing to be better, it turned out that the owner of the company was one of the guys sweating in the staircase (a victim of his own shitty planning, a fact which – I admit – I found satisfying), so it had to be there and then. Though I believe that it was really important to speak our minds – for me as well as for him, as they had grievances of their own.

I guess the moral of the story is that holding back what you’re feeling in the moment doesn’t necessarily mean you’re putting on a fake face. It was important – necessary, even – to park my grievances, genuinely connect with the human being,  and to create a space where emotions can be aired, as well as to listen to the other side’s story.

That’s also why I love coaching conversations: Since I’m not reliant on my clients’ service and tend to avoid significant “dual relationships”, I don’t have to bite my tongue. When I feel strongly during a coaching conversation, and this feeling has emerged as a result of our relationship or interaction, it’s actually important that I give voice to it as it’s usually very relevant to the work.

Anyway: Now – 3 days of intense unpacking later – we’re in a reasonably good place. Most of the plants are alive, I’m loving my new consulting room, and I’m looking forward to continuing to share my thoughts with you from one of the most inspiring places I know in the world.

Welcome to Berlin, me! 🙂

What I’m listening to

Mato – Il est cinq heures (in dub)

This came in like a tremendous treat on the day we’ve finally had the couch and lounge chair unpacked, a very hard day of work was done, the sound system was up and running, and for the first time in some time it was time to relax and breathe and just be cosy, feeling the warm embrace of some quality dub.

New Content 

You can now watch or listen to my keynote at the 1st Annual Summit on Transformative Coaching, during which I took stock of a dozen conversations with thought leaders in the coaching profession to talk about, among many other things, their take on transformation and transformative coaching.

Many of the other excellent presentations (including the other keynote by Dr. Simon Western) are also up on Animas’s YouTube Channel now.

That’s it for this week! If any of this resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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With Love