Today Project Change has the pleasure of a Master Coach, Lynn Feingold, who is taking the team through the process of Peer to Peer Group Coaching, the practice the team know as Bells and Whistles at each training meeting.
It begins with knowing how to truly listen, to be able to actively feed back to the speaker that you have heard them, what they say, how they feel, and how they understand themselves.
What the listener gives back is not what they heard so much as what the speaker heard himself or herself say. We presume that we speak and know what we mean and how we feel, until someone mirrors back to us how we come across, and that perhaps our words were stronger than we intended, or that there is a feeling underneath the words that others are much more aware of than we are.
A powerful listener does not hear us so much as allow us to hear ourselves at a deeper level. That means however that we remain focused on the person speaking to us and not allowing distractions or the impulse to give advice or move the focus to ourselves.Along with Active Listening, the team are learning:
- the power of the question
We hear our colleague describe a problem but we usually have no sense of the situation, the duration, the story of the situation that is behind the problem. Hence, the first round of questions needs to flesh out the reality as it could be observed by someone else. Narrative Scholars sometimes call this mapping the Landscape of Action. Next, once we get a sense of a shared understanding of what is going on, we shift to map the landscape of Consciousness, as to meaning, and how important is this to you, and what are the assumptions or needs or desires behind the problem that make it a problem or a challenge?
- the power of the pause
Conversation is noise unless we allow ourselves and our partners the space to embody the words, to allow the words to become flesh. Lynn does the “How are you?” exercise, where on the fly, you ask it and get the on the fly response, “Fine.” Then, she does it with the asker taking a breath before asking, and the respondent taking a breath before answering, and suddenly, we have created a different conversation. A Coach holds the space for a conversation to expand and go deep. The body is always in the act. So, deep listening is spatial as well as emotional and mental. The coach has to learn the space that silence creates and pausing respects, to catch echoes and resonances that are too easily missed.
- the power of a plan.
The coaching session is part of an ongoing story of making a difference. Hence, the words need at some point to enter the world and instigate action. At the end of each session, the person with the challenge makes themselves accountable to DO something, or perhaps NOT do something, as a strategy for change that at the next session, they can report on.
The power of peer to peer coaching as a narrative tool means we are sharing our stories in real time, when we don’t know how they are going to end, and at the same time, sharing our commitment to being agents of change, and not victims of circumstances. We are recruiting an audience that is championing our leadership and on side with our intentions to do the best we can and be the best we can. We can’t do that alone, and Peer to Peer coaching is a powerful means by which we can express that.