"Real magic in relationships means an absence of judgment of others." Wayne Dyer
Perhaps so, yet there is a BIG difference, and as I ponder what I think the greatest distinction is, I've decided that what makes coaching unique from all other disciplines is the safety created by our refraining from judgment.
There has been much written about the negative impact of judgment on the brain (see David Rock's work-- particularly as it relates to his SCARF model); or Brene Brown's popular youtube video on The Power of Vulnerability with over 1 million views, and was recently featured on The Oprah Winfrey Network. Judgment hurts and, to the brain, is received in the same way as if a huge tiger was chasing you! It causes pain and results in a fight or flight reaction. Why do people get defensive when criticized? Why do people avoid those who are so adamant about their being right and you being wrong?
I was working with a client recently who had a great deal of emotion around unfulfilled promises in the work setting. She was promised a promotion that due to numerous changes at work, didn't happen. Our work focused around her ultimate goal and what actions would be in service to her goal. She could remain bitter and angry, but would that advance her desire to be seen as worthy of promotion? What other choices did she have and what was she willing to do? What was most important?
As you can imagine, emotions around value, self-worth, self-confidence and respect were prevalent. How does one assess their value? Does it come from us or from people external to us? And, what power are we willing to relinquish and to what impact?
I found myself feeling great after our conversation, believing that the client had insights that may serve her well in reaching her goals. Within 24 hours, the client took action that I found myself questioning. As I wrestled with what to do/ say about this, I paused and thought about the coaching relationship. My role is not to judge. The client's success or failure is not about ME... what I would do in any situation is about ME and not my client.
My role as coach, is to be aware of my own reactions and judgments, and put that aside. As a coach, I enter a dialogue with my client around what prompted her to act, and how it has advanced or interfered with her vision of success. My role is not to be right or wrong... nor to hold that judgment up to my client. My role is to be a mirror reflecting back to my client my observations of her behavior, and the impact the behavior has had on her success. Knowing that she is infinitely wise and capable, I know she will find her way.
There are few other relationships I know of where that level of acceptance, belief, and validation exist. The safety created in an attitude of "non-judgment" is palpable and makes ALL the difference. The only other relationship I know of that holds that safety is our relationship with our four-legged friends. They don't care what mood we're in; whether we did something that could be perceived as "stupid;" they don't care that we ignored them or forgot their 5pm feeding and are late. All they care about is that we are there for them; take care of their basic needs, and spend a few moments sharing in their unconditional love. I could do much worse than using my feline companions as models for how I wish to BE with my clients! Perhaps I should start asking my clients: "Are you purring??"
As always, I welcome your thoughts and insights!