I felt a little smug after I managed to formulate such an elaborate question, skillfully weaving in references to a pattern we had discovered earlier, and inviting attention to a possible parallel process that seemed to have emerged…
But my client didn’t even seem to have listened to a word I had said. Instead she continued on her train of thought from before.
Part of me was furious, felt disrespected, not been given my place as a coach.
I quickly let go of what was going on for me as I realised she was very much onto something. She was doing the work, and my question (as valuable as it may have been objectively) would have been a distraction.
Several minutes later she had arrived at a valuable insight that carried itself throughout the rest of our work. So valuable indeed that I was glad she didn’t listen to me.
On reflection, this sort of thing happens all the time. Sometimes we just need someone else to talk while we continue to think. And in some ways it can feel a lot safer for people to do their thinking while someone else is talking, as compared to having that someone look at us expectantly.
I’m reminded of what’s going on for me when I’m working on a shared online document and I can see that someone is watching my every keyboard stroke and mouse movement. It feels uncomfortable. I’d rather have them be engaged in something else while I’m doing my work. Not everybody likes to be met with full presence while they do their thinking
That’s why I believe a lot of clients get more out of coaching sessions when they’re on the phone or with the camera off. Psychoanalyst often sit behind their patients, instead of facing them, for similar reasons.
So my invitation to you is not to get offended when your client ignores your input, to get your ego in check, and to stay non-attached to whatever it is you’re bringing. Sometimes people do their best thinking while someone else is talking.
New content: A conversation with Prof. Jonathan Passmore
I’ve been looking forward to having Jonathan on the podcast for some time! Please enjoy this episode which is packed with Nuggets as we discussed coaching in the digital space, why it’s so meaningful to create coaching cultures, and how AI may be the pathway towards actually “democratising coaching”. Would love to hear your thoughts!
Few tickets still available: An Introduction to Existential Coaching
If you’re curious, but not convinced, why not listen to some of our past attendees talk about their experience: