Thursday 1 November 2012

Coaching insights on being heard

I use a tool with individuals and groups called the Frameworks For Change Coaching Process *. It's a wonderfully insightful tool and as it's been a long time since I shared it via social media I thought I'd do so today on a challenge faced by many in procurement. 

Let's imagine I have a situation where what I'm saying is being ignored. I know what I'm suggesting makes sense. I know it will benefit those I'm speaking to and the business as a whole. In fact I'd go so far as to say it will help the business achieve it's goals - especially around reducing costs and increasing profitability. It will even help reduce risks and in some organisations increase revenue. What is there to not to want to engage with? Yet many stakeholders don't want to and will do everything they can to ignore us. I touched on stakeholder engagement in a previous blog but I wonder what additional insights the Frameworks For Change Coaching Process * may have to offer. Let's see. 

There are 3 sets of cards and it's the response to the question asked by each of the different cards that provides the insight to the situation. Obviously here in the blog it's only my insight you're getting. In coaching sessions it's richer for others' points of view and the dialogue and enquiry that takes place around each card.

Insight card: You were brilliant, firm, and steady in a very rocky situation
I know for me that I can come away from some conversations and think I was perhaps too firm and that small voice inside starts to question my style. Perhaps I should have said it this way not that etc and on and on... and sometimes... on and on.

I think my takeaway from this card is that sometimes we do have to be firm and steady even when the other person is clearly unhappy with our response. For me so long as I listen to my intuition on when to be firm and not my ego I'll be ok!

Remember sometimes people have to hear a new idea many times (some would suggest over 7) before they start to accept it's validity or even start to be open to think about it's applicability to them. So keep going and keep engaging.

Potential Setback card: You are setback by COMPLAINING in the current situation.
Ouch! I wrote a blog about taking personal responsibility last week and not blaming others. By doing that we understand what we can do to facilitate the change we want to see in the situation rather than sit back and wait for the other person to take action.

This card, however, isn't simply about finding a solution to the complaining - it's about recognising the impact complaining has on us and on those we're communicating to and with. Complaining is very time consuming and it's also a very draining and negative activity. It, therefore, can't but help have negative consequences on the rest of our day.

Remember it's very difficult to be inspired and creative after we've just had a good moan! I'd suggest therefore it's about recognising the 'complaining' energy before it gets hold of us and our stakeholder and make a choice to change tack - even if that's just to one of constructive feedback. That at least will shift the energy to a more positive one that allows for solutions to be found and opportunities discovered. I'm not sure a complaining energy allows for that! I wrote more on state management in yesterday's blog.

Insight Card: You value and express the quality of ACCEPTANCE in the present situation.
It's easy to get carried away with wanting to change the world or your part of it anyway. The challenge is in understanding the difference between firm and steady and being like a bulldozer! Acceptance gives us that understanding. Acceptance that others may never see it the same as us, acceptance that others have other goals, acceptance that they disagree with us, acceptance that we can't have the change today and it might take a bit longer.

Releasing our expectation and attachment to a certain outcome can allow for a more open and free energy between us and our stakeholder. Who knows what then may transpire as a result. 
Mentor: Trust
This card asks us to think about someone who is a role model to us for, in this instance, Trust. What would they do, feel, say in the situation. For me I get a sense that's not about giving up, it's about continuing to be firm, continuing to communicate and continuing to have faith and trust that the message will get through - in time.

I'd love to hear what insights you got from the cards and this exploration of them.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for effective personal and interpersonal skills for your purchasing team

* The process, the insight, setback and mentor cards used here are from the Frameworks for Change ® Innerlinks -

* I wrote some notes many moon and life times ago on 'Keeping on track in a downturn' and whilst out of date regarding my contact details it may provide some insight on how this tool might be used in a group setting.

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