There’s nothing I like more than a good conversation, which is probably just as well considering talking and listening are at the heart of just about everything I do in my business!
So tell me, when was the last time you had a really good conversation?
Because even though you no doubt have lots of them during the course of your daily interactions, not ALL conversations are created equal and not all conversations can be classified as ‘good‘ can they?
While there are undoubtedly some conversations that turn out to be literally life-changing (… details of one of mine to follow!) there are others which, for want of a better description I’ll call ‘unsatisfactory’ conversations, usually characterised by a lot of one-sided talking and not much listening!
You know the type of thing… the conversations where you find yourself being spoken to rather than conversed with. The conversations where the other party is just itching to relate everything back to their experience and where what you say will have absolutely no bearing on their response because they already know what they’re going to say anyway! If you’ve experienced this you’ll know what I mean when I say I somehow feel a bit ‘used’ after this type of interaction.
A good conversation however, is something very different.
You know when you’ve been part of a ‘good’ conversation because of how it makes you FEEL. You walk away from it feeling heard, feeling understood, energised or inspired…. or any number of generally positive emotions! And THEN there are those special conversations you have with someone, where the next day…. or even several days later, you’re still thinking about that conversation because something in you changed as a result of having had it.
Conversation as a catalyst
A conversation can be the catalyst that literally changes your life – and when you have one of those you know just how powerful an experience it is!
The coaching conversation is an example of this – it doesn’t necessarily change your life (although it certainly can do) but something changes as a result of it.
I was talking about my business with a woman recently and when I told her that conversation was at the heart of what I do, she responded by saying, ‘Oh so you tell people what to do then, do you?’ Which first off made me smile to think that she immediately linked conversation with ‘telling people what to do’, but secondly, it made me realise that there are others who probably think the same and even if they don’t, they probably have no idea what a coaching conversation IS let alone how powerful it can be!
Conversations with potential
I love the feeling of potential at the start of every coaching conversation with my clients. There’s a certain power within it – a power to clarify, to heal, to transform. A power to connect us to our ‘spark’, our inspiration and our inner wisdom.
And best of all… to motivate us into action.
And yes, all that takes place within a conversation, so let me tell you a little more about how this happens.
A guided exploration
For a start, there is no set agenda other than what you want to achieve and what you bring to the conversation – which, more often than not, will include a head full of ideas, hopes and challenges all competing for attention and clarity. But ‘no agenda’ doesn’t mean there’s no structure to the conversation – there is, and it’s my job as the coach to guide the conversation and help you explore opportunities, obstacles, choices and options and find clarity, direction and commitment to take with you.
A client of mine once described her coaching sessions as being like setting off on a journey of exploration with someone you have absolute confidence in at the helm (me!), with no idea where it’ll take you at the outset but knowing you’ll be in a better place by the end!
The more coaching conversations I have, the more I witness the truth of this.
A thinking space
At its essence, the coaching conversation offers something that’s becoming increasingly difficult to find – a thinking space. A supported space where you can take a step back and see the bigger picture. A space where you can tap into your internal wisdom and listen to yourself. A space where you can clarify your own thinking, find new perspectives and experience moments of sheer inspiration best described as motivational dynamite!
Support, encouragement and challenge
So what’s MY role in this conversation, you may wonder? Well, my job is to support, encourage and yes, sometimes give a gentle kick up the you-know-what!
Questioning and listening are the two main tools of the trade required for the job – both of which I’m quite good at, as it turns out!
Coaching is about asking LOTS of questions – thought-provoking, inspiring, challenging, supportive and powerful questions hopefully, to help you uncover the answers which are right for you.
Contrary to what some may think, it isn’t about me telling you what to do or giving advice (unless you ask) but rather, it’s about helping you take ownership of your situation, come up with your own answers, and importantly, take the right actions for you.
And as for the listening part – this is definitely the more challenging part of my job and requires far more than me pleasantly nodding along as you talk! It requires active, mindful listening…. noticing a sigh, a sharp intake of breath, an unexpected change of tone or emotion, all of which can provide as much, if not more information than the spoken word.
Listening allows me to notice all the important stuff lurking underneath… the excuses, the procrastination, the overwhelm, the crippling fears and the limiting beliefs which, unless challenged and examined, could so easily undermine your precious dreams and ambitions.
One important thing
So, that’s a very brief overview of the coaching conversation but if there’s ONE thing I’d really like you to take away from this blog, it’s this: the power of a coaching conversation is NOT in the conversation itself – it’s in what you DO as a result of the conversation.
It’s all about the A word
What we’re talking about here are ACTIONS because without them, it will always remain a conversation about ideas. Sometimes those actions will be of the one small step variety…. and other times they may be of the giant leap variety, either way, there will be forward motion taking you ever closer to your dream.
Which brings me nicely to the life-changing conversation I mentioned at the very start! I can still remember the conversation I had more than 12 years ago with one of my very first coaches. It was the conversation that was to become MY catalyst… the conversation that shifted my thinking, feeling and behaviour and ultimately inspired and empowered me to take action and set me on a new journey to becoming a solopreneur.
Without this conversation, I doubt I would ever have made the changes I yearned to make – changes that enabled me step into the work I longed to do, and start a business that brought (and continues to bring) increasing joy, fulfillment.
So when I say a conversation can change your life, I’m not joking…. I’m living proof of it!
Have we had a conversation yet?
Not ALL conversations need to be powerful or life-changing though! For a start, it would be pretty exhausting! I also delight in the more casual interactions I have with women in the prime time ‘tribe’ and yes, social media is one way of doing this, but for me, nothing beats a conversation as a way of making that connection real. So if we haven’t yet had a conversation, book a welcome call right here and let’s rectify that as soon as possible.