Something I've noticed in my coaching practice has been a tendency to default to rational analysis as my dominant style. It’s about reflective thinking. I once spoke with a coaching colleague about some tensions I was experiencing vis a vis a forthcoming trip to Myanmar, about concerns I had about placing a national colleague there at risk. I commented that I was struggling, ‘to get my head around it’ and, apparently, gestured towards my head.
As I continued to talk about it, this colleague observed that I was now gesturing towards my heart. I wasn’t aware of doing this at the time. He challenged me: “You describe this as something you need to get your head around whereas it actually touches on emotional concerns and deeply held values. It’s something you need to get your heart around.” I suddenly became aware of how I was rationalising an emotional struggle and felt confused about why I might do this.
At a later coaching workshop, I was invited to draw a systemic view of an issue I was dealing with at work. I drew the system, using circles to depict the different parties involved. My coaching partner drew my attention to this and challenged me: “I wonder how it might be if you were to draw people instead of circles. It’s as if you are depicting the scenario in rational conceptual terms rather than expressing and exploring it as a human emotional experience.”
I want to continue to learn how to be more aware of what I am feeling in the moment in order to make greater use of self, of counter-transference. My dominant modality is thinking, hence my instinctive focus on rationality, even if I’m aware of the client’s emotional state when I choose to focus on it. I’m often only aware of what I was feeling during the session when I reflect back on it afterwards. It can feel like an opportunity lost.
Nick is a freelance coach, trainer and OD consultant specialising in reflective practice.