One notable feature of coaching is its client-centered approach. This means focusing on the other person’s agenda, thoughts, ideas, and allowing them to reach their own conclusions. I find this challenging! The other-centeredness of coaching reveals just how “me” centered I am.
My agenda. My ideas. My suggestions. My plans. Me. Me. Me.
I like my own ideas and often think I know what’s best for others. Unlike Jesus who “…made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, … and humbled himself…” (Philippians 2:7-8), I want to be in control.
The other-centeredness of coaching forces me to shift the spotlight away from me.
Moving From Our Ideas to Their Ideas
Once we learn to coach, we can still be “me” focused, even when asking questions.
The question, “Have you tried sharing how you feel?” is my suggestion in question form. Focus instead on generating ideas in the other person. Ask, “How might you create better understanding between the two of you?”
“Are you going to recruit a team?” flows from my belief in the power of teams. Removing my pro-team bias, I could ask more neutrally, “What is your long term approach to working there?”
Removing Me-Centered Language
It takes an embarrassing amount of effort to weed out all the me’s, mine’s and I’s from coaching conversations.
“Tell me about …”, is better said, “Say more about…”
“I think that’s great!”, could be refocused toward the coachee by saying, “You did it!”
“I think God is saying something to you here,” is easily adjusted to, “What might God be saying to you here?”
The difference in language is subtle but it affects my mentality. By taking “me” out of the conversation I’m better able to focus on the coachee’s thoughts, ideas, and perspective, not how to get across my own.
And it doesn’t stop there. Taking the ‘me’ out of coaching conversations has resulted in me being a bit quicker to consider the Lord’s perspective, ideas, and guidance. I wonder if I’m hearing more from Him because I’m less focused on “me” in other conversations.
Lord, your agenda. Your ideas. Your suggestions. Your plans. You. You. You.
Keith E. Webb, DMin, PCC is author, speaker, and consultant specializing in leadership development. He is the founder of Creative Results Management, a global training organization focused on helping ministry leaders multiply their impact. For 20 years, Keith lived in Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore where he designed and delivered leadership development programs to leaders around the world. He is the author of The COACH Model for Christian Leaders, Overcoming Spiritual Barriers in Japan and is co-author of Coaching In Asia. Keith is the immediate past-President of ICF Washington State and lives near Seattle with his wife and their two children. He blogs at www.keithwebb.com.