It’s always a good idea to take a look at the person in the mirror before looking at others. If we can see our own flaws and shortcomings it helps us be more patient and empathetic of others’ flaws. I was reminded of this just recently by one of our sons. I have this underlying belief that his approach to school could use a stronger strategy designed for even 25% more success than what he is currently getting. I tend to have this conversation with him about how to create his own success. Usually these conversations take place in a number of different settings; my favourite is in the car. He is often quite receptive of my contributions to our talks and I of his- it’s all good right? Well, not quite.
You see I have in me what I describe as my ‘lower self’ and my ‘higher self’ (I suspect most people have this too). My higher self tends to reign most of the time but this day in question it was my lower self that took hold of the reins.
I noticed that after our son was home for over five hours (I am not exaggerating) he had not cracked open a single book. Mid-term exams were a couple of weeks away. Initially my ‘higher self’ asked the powerful questions designed to create awareness and take action (Refer to previous post: Healthy Communication…) let’s just say none of this happened.
Instead, my ‘lower self’ stepped in and started in a somewhat elevated tone (I really wasn’t yelling- just really passionate) asking him weak questions such as: What do you expect to get from this poor attitude toward your school work? (Coaching analysis: Here I am criticizing and judging-this puts them on the defensive) How can you waste your time like this? (Coaching analysis: more judging) Do you not care about your future? (Here I am judging, and using fear as a motivator- pretty weak tactic)
Finally, I told him to get up and go study, using my authority as a parent over him. In this last desperate attempt, I also end up ‘telling’ him what to do rather than creating a process where I help him come up with a solution.
My son calmly looked me in the eye and said “You know this yelling won’t get you what you want –right”? Boy was I told! What are the lessons from this story? To move people forward and create change there is a coaching process designed to do just this. Below are 4 tips
- Appeal to their emotions. Change occurs when people feel the need to change. John P. Kotter said it beautifully, “influence emotions not thought and people will see the problem or solutions”
- Use powerful questions based on ADAC (Refer to previous post: Healthy Communication…)
- Check which of your selves you’re entering the situation with: higher or lower self?
- Remember we are only human and are prone to give in to the road well- traveled at times: giving in to the ways of the lower- self.
If you too have given in to the lower-self at times, remember all the good you have done over the years and acknowledge yourself for them rather than give in to feeling guilty. Focus on the good and you will get more of it.
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