The other night I decided to spend some time looking through Facebook to catch up with friends. The first posting I came upon was a COVID statement by a childhood friend tinged with political undertones. I followed the comments and saw two high school classmates weigh in with their very contrary views. Back and forth they went espousing their point of view with condescending and insulting language. I finally had to exit Facebook. I was discouraged by the negative and judgmental discourse that lead nowhere.
While we generally write in these blogs about leadership topics, I am going to expand to talk about human issues. People are experiencing great anxiety and fear due to the pandemic, the political landscape, and social justice concerns. These issues are affecting mental health and we are polarized as a population.
I suggest we leverage a few key skills from the coaching playbook to help us make progress.
The first involves listening deeply to what the other person is saying without judgment. Coaches believe that people are creative, resourceful, and whole. We are all messy in our own ways, but we are also amazing in our own ways. There is no judgment in either.
Coaches believe the people can change and grow, that people can shine, that people can find their own way, and that we can’t force others to change but we can change ourselves. From those beliefs we listen to what our client is saying (and not saying) and/or what is really underneath the words. We use deep curiosity and powerful open-ended questions to connect with others.
We also use the skill of acknowledgment. We acknowledge what our clients have said or done and how they may be feeling, independent of whether we personally agree with it. We use empathy to try to connect with those emotions and create a sense of compassion (a feeling of concern for their well-being). And we voice appreciation for them as a person.
Anxiety abounds but we can help douse the fire instead of adding fuel to it by listening deeply without judgment, using curiosity, applying positive unconditional regard for others, and acknowledging others (including being empathetic). If you want help building these skills, contact me.