When was the last time you felt really listened to? When was the last time you were really present with someone and gave them your full attention?
In the workplace, school and home we are often so busy juggling our own agendas, getting our own needs met, having one eye on the social media and the other on the phone email that it’s hardly surprising that we rarely get to meaningfully engage with each other any more.
This can have a detrimental effect on our ability to build PERMA – Positive Emotion; Engagement; Relationships; Meaning; Accomplishment and ultimately this impacts on the well-being, resilience and capacity to flourish of ourselves and those around us.
We see the impact everywhere in both adults and young people – those trying to be their best but finding it hard to sustain high performance or those languishing and disengaged – either way unsure of where to turn for support or who to turn to.
I am regularly in workplaces and learning environments where people are not really engaging and even when they are the focus is often on what is going wrong rather than right, the problems rather than solutions, the barriers rather than opportunities, the deficits as opposed to the strengths and advising or telling people what to do rather than giving them space to reach their own conclusions.
As an Organisational Coach I get to introduce Leaders, Executives, Managers, Employees, Teachers, Students and Parents to the idea of ‘Coaching Conversations’. It’s not about training people to become ‘coaches’ as such. It’s more about raising awareness of the enormous benefits to ourselves and others when we can learn to be more present with people, to suspend our own agenda and needs for a few minutes and make a shift from telling to asking. Creating a space where we can help the other person to explore ‘what’s working well’, encourage imagination of preferred futures, help gain a more realistic sense of perspective on what is going on at the moment and build their hope through generating goals, self-belief and pathways thinking.
Using a simple model called GROW we can help people to support others by structuring solution-focused conversations that help to set Goals (G), evaluating the current Reality (R), exploring Options to think, feel or behave differently (O) and committing to action for a Way Forward (W).
Numerous coaching studies provide testimony to the efficacy of the GROW model in enhancing goal striving, well-being, workplace well-being, resilience and hope in adults and young people with resulting benefits for organisational and academic success.
But what’s in it for the coach or the person providing the space and asking the questions? Two things – firstly offering to be present with someone by providing a coaching conversation is like an act of kindness in itself and we know that acts of kindness have benefits for both the giver and receiver. Also I would argue that a coaching conversation is an example of being mindful and in the moment and research tells us that mindfulness activity has enormous benefits for our own mental and physical well-being.
So being present and the having and acting upon the intention to give your attention to others through coaching conversations is a great way to build PERMA in others and yourself.