It’s official. Okay, it’s almost official. I haven’t yet finished the coaching course – I have to finish the book and pass the test. I’ve done all of the other requirements. But those 2 requirements are dependent solely on me – I don’t need anyone else to get them done. Today I finished the last requirement that needed other people participating. The course had 10 online group sessions. We’ve a large group – nearly 40 people meeting online (we’ve lost a few since the first class). As I mentioned in an earlier post, we get sent into breakout rooms – 3 or 4 of us together. Someone must coach, someone must be the coachee, and the other observes. I’ve been an observer for the first 8 sessions. I WAS about to volunteer to coach once, but I got elbowed aside quite strongly (virtually, mind you) by someone else who felt he absolutely needed to coach. *grin*
Last session I was the coachee. I’ve been fairly snarky about being a coachee. My feeling was that there was nothing one of my classmates could do for me that I couldn’t do already with my “Howard-in-my-head“. After all, I KNEW what the problem was, I KNEW I had to find a non-confrontational way to discuss it with the person in question, I KNEW that what was holding me up was what words I would use to speak to her directly. It was obviously just a matter of me thinking about the wording, trying out sentences and seeing which felt ‘right’. But I had to be a coachee and B had to be a coach. I even started my session with him being snarky (at least I felt it was condescending and snarky, I’m not sure if B felt that way) – explaining that I *KNEW* what had to be done. B did not let that bother him. He had me state my issue and what I wanted to accomplish today: I have a coworker who speaks very very very softly on all of our team calls, and I can’t hear her, and I get frustrated and embarrassed having to ask her to repeat everything, and even then I don’t always hear her. I’ve asked coworkers to move the microphone near her, I’ve instant messaged them to find out what she said, suggested to our manager that he have EVERYONE use the video and not just audio (maybe I’d be better at reading lips). *laughing* Even TYPING this the frustration returns.
Well, we only get about 15 minutes for these triad coaching sessions. We were almost to the end when B asked me what ended up being the pivotal question: What can you do NOW to address this? I started to answer him by saying “nothing, I can’t do anything until I see her in person”. And WHAM!!! It hit me. Right in mid-sentence. I did NOT have to wait to see her in person. I could EMAIL her!! Or I could IM her right before the next meeting (due later that day). This did NOT have to be done in person. You’re reading this and saying – well, could it be any more obvious???? The answer is no, it really isn’t obvious when it is YOUR issue. One thing that I have learned for sure from this coaching course is how grateful we all are for the space of time where we can think, reflect, take time. We spend a lot of effort getting things done and not as much time exploring all the aspects. I’ve learned that when I coach, the thing my coachees seem to appreciate most is the space to think and then speak.
Sharing a situation, describing a problem to another, always seems to let more light on something even when we’ve been sure there are no shadows left. Certainly I’ve experienced it over and over when I was still writing code. I’d hit a bug, be stuck. I’d start to talk to my coworker explaining the issue and as I articulated the details to her, I could see the problem clear as day. Or maybe you’ve had a conversation with a friend where you were talking about some problem or complaint, and the friend mentions some simple solution that you had never even considered. It’s the old you can’t see the forest for the trees – if you are too close, you can’t see the whole.
I was THRILLED with my coaching session with B. I will tell you that I utilized the solution that *I* came up with just this week. I sent an email shortly before the team call to the other 2 women on the call, explaining that I had a hard time hearing, and women’s voices were the most difficult for me, and could they please make sure that the microphones were well distributed around the table and could they please be sure to sit near one. OMG. They wrote back, said they would, they did, and I heard everything. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or demanding or as if I was insulting the person I can’t hear, because by doing it in a common email, I felt I diffused any sort of implication of personal attack. It was great.
Today was FINALLY my turn to be a coach in the triad. *Laughing* It’s very hard to be the coachee at times, and come up with a problem you want to discuss with someone listening, and also knowing you have only 10 minutes to talk. I’ve found, therefore, that I need to give the coachee sufficient time to tell enough of the story so I could hear what was the core of the issue. Then there is the whole aspect of trust and embarrassment – will the person listening judge me or betray me? I felt I was handling the conversation well, although there were several sentences I wanted to rephrase (and did) as soon as I said them. I felt I did manage to keep quiet and give her space to respond, and that I asked open questions that would make her think. I tried to follow the model we were given. I wasn’t sure we were going to come up with an action plan, but just as we got the 1 minute warning to return to the group, she came up with a solution she felt she could implement right away.
We returned to the group and our facilitator was asking for feedback. One of the best parts of blogging is that I can “brag”. My blog, my words, no one makes you read it. *grin* In many other aspects of my life I do try to avoid singing my own praises. (And honestly, there ARE so many things to praise when you are as wonderful as I am. *grin*) But here’s what the rest of my triad had to say in the open group chat:
From ‘Observer’ to Everyone:
It was good experience as an observer. Our Coach was so calm and asking very good question.
From Coachee to Everyone:
Ahuva was my coach, and made me feel very comfortable. Thank you so much Ahuva!
From Observer to Everyone:
I totally agree. She was excellent.
*blush* But oh yeah, you know I am feeling good about that. The facilitator read it and called it out, too. Even more exciting – my coachee IM’d me to tell me she had already acted on her solution and thanked me again. I praised her and told her she was very welcome, and offered to continue coaching with her if she wished (an offer I did make to my 2 test coachees as well). She was immediately enthusiastic and said she would love to have me coach her and she sent a meeting invitation for us to continue.
So I may not have my course badge yet, but I have a coachee. 🙂