Tag Archives: ‘I statements’

Decisive Actions: The Coach is IN: ‘A Talk in the Park’ Vol.4

9 Jul

Are you decisive?

What risks do you take to reach your dreams?

As scary as coaching in the park may be for ME, I imagine it even scarier for the person questioning across my table.   Sitting down labels my  ‘coachee’ (not a word I

My ‘advertisement with Bryant Park’s Monday night movie screen as backdrop

know) as someone in need of help.  Most people wouldn’t admit that need. Especially in ‘cool’ Bryant Park.  Especially in New York.

So when a young black man, stopped and stood, stared and waited, I was thrilled when A. accepted my offer to sit .  Dressed in black with a heavy backpack he didn’t take off, I strained to hear his soft-spoken question about coaching.  He responded to my offer for action steps in relationships and career with a shy smile.

Which first?  Relationships.  Specifically, he wanted to learn to be a better friend.  WOW!  Right?

I started asking what does a better friend ‘look like’?  That’s a hard question for most of us to answer, and A. shut down to my query.  Reminder to self:  keep my questions simple.

What did A. want to improve?  Why did he think he needed to be a better friend?

Referring to one friend, A. felt it was his fault this many was always on the phone when they were together.

I used Moments of Awareness (http://www.creating.bz/our-reading-circle/fifth-discipline.html)   to uncover the issues:

Q1:  What was he feeling?  Anger

Q2:  What did he want:  His friend not to be on the phone so they could TALK

Q3:  What could he do differently:  He wanted to yell at his friend, but as we discussed there were better communication techniques.

There’s this special energy created when working with someone so intent.   We next worked on using ‘I’ statements, to replace getting A.’s needs communicated.  He agreed words would work better than yelling.    ‘I’ statements,  are a popular and basic communication technique taught in communication and conflict classes.  But as I told A. they aren’t often heard.

Why not?  Good question, ‘human’ answer:  Emotions.  It’s always easier to yell and blame the ‘other idiot’.

It takes lots of practice to actually change the way we communicate our emotions.  I had to admit that even my ‘I statements get washed away in the face of conflict.  I too need to practice and a good plug for the importance of a coach to practice with!

A. and I worked through the steps (bold-faced), practicing them along the way.  One of the many cool things about this is that A. was easily able to supply good talking points (in italics).

Step 1When you (the facts):  talk on the phone when we are together

Step 2:  I feel:  angry

Step 3:  Because:  I want you to talk to me

Step 4:  I would likefor you not to be on the phone when we are together

Step 5:  BecauseI would like for us to talk

Step 6:  What do you think?

Simple and straightforward.   I wanted A. to practice, reminding him (and me and all of us) of the difficulty in changing how we talk and the power of being swept away by the emotions.  I suggested 100 times.  Yea, right you are probably thinking as he did too!  He felt like he could do it 5 times.  5 times works!

I recommended A. practice in front of the mirror.  I often recommend ‘mirror’ practice often (though nothing to do with fixing hair or touching up lipstick).  Practicing in front of the mirror and looking yourself in the eye lets you see what you look like in uncomfortable positions.  PRACTICING until you can smile and see

Bryant Park’s public restroom gets top ratings thanks to fresh flowers and classical music!

your confidence provides yet another step toward success when the situation arises.  Practice puts the words into long(er)-term memory.  ‘Mirror practice is great preparation for public speaking too!

Building a confidence smile and words seemed especially important with A.   His shy smile, soft spokenness seemed part of his MO.  I had him sit up straight.  We practiced shaking hands (not really as silly as it sounds).  His initial limp shake was soon replaced with a firm, more confident grip, eye contact and a smile.

I learned A. was in Welfare-to-Work.  Practicing these basics was a first for him.

He shared he was ‘indecisive’.  It was hard for him to take action.  Like me, you are likely shaking your head and cheering him on.  I reminded him HE SAT DOWN.  HE ASKED.  HE WAS PRACTICING.  No, he is NOT indecisive.  (And how often do we all, in perhaps less challenging situations, allow negative beliefs to define us?)

One more thing:  career help.  A. wanted to be rich.  Well, successful and to get out of welfare.  What did he need to be successful?  I couldn’t help but I told him who could:  his supervisor.

Another scary step for him but asking his supervisor would be a way to gain help and support while demonstrating his decisiveness.

Simply, I recommended he communicate:

  • I want to be successful.
  • What can I do to be successful?

Leaving his nickel, sharing a smile and solid handshake, A. walked away – decisively.  I was left inspired.  I realized in a half-hour, A. demonstrated his decisiveness,  practiced his hand shake, and learned two communication techniques to help him be successful.  Imagine if every person had 30 minute coaching sessions each week?  Imagine if A., and everyone in Welfare-to-Work programs had this opportunity?  Imagine!

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