I was privileged to be invited to be an Executive Coach at the Richmond Events Communication Director’s forum 2021 last week.

As a professional coach I am dedicated to engaging in conversations that make a transformational difference for my clients, and there is no better proof of the lasting impact of even just one conversation than the story of Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn (featured above) where one conversation with Neil literally saved Jonny’s life as he was perched on a bridge about to end it all.

In that moment of despair Neil was able to get through to Jonny and persuade him there was something worth living for.  The two became reunited years later and today are champions for mental health awareness.  Charity – Jonny Benjamin

As Jonny relates his story of the conversation, it becomes clear that Neil was able to connect with him in a way that all the professionals and psychiatrists hadn’t.  The professionals were constantly telling him what was wrong with him, yet Neil normalised things and said “Don’t be embarrassed.” and “You’ll be alright mate”

Neil’s advice to anyone in a helping role “Don’t forget to be yourself.  On that bridge I couldn’t be anyone other than myself – and that was how I was able to connect on a human level with Jonny”

As a professional coach I believe this to be an incredibly important message – that skills and knowledge are often secondary to the ability to really connect with someone fully, meeting them as they are – person to person, and that even one conversation can make a big difference.

Seren Trewavas is a Chartered Organisational Psychologist and ICF accredited coach with over 25 years’ experience in personal and organisational development.  She works with leaders and professionals globally to help unlock potential.