“We only have two sessions left and I’m no closer to achieving the outcomes I’m being paid for.” Jeremy said.

Jeremy is an experienced coach, with the grey hair and wrinkles of a life well lived. He’s been coaching since forever and there’s not much he’s not helped people with. But this client had got him stumped.

I’ve heard the same story many times in coach supervision sessions. I’ve worked with a lot of coaches for whom the pressure to achieve the outcomes for the client has unconsciously been getting in their way of actually being able to deliver. This time felt different.

My intuition and experience told me to explore the feeling with him in a little more depth. What was Jeremy feeling? Frustration, pressure of a looming deadline, a strong desire to achieve the change but unable to effect the change he knew he needed to make, a sense of time running out.

“I’ve used all the usual tools in my kitbag, and I still haven’t got anywhere.” He said. Wasn’t this exactly what his client was experiencing? His client had moved from a job that he’d been very good at, and knew how to do, to a new job that required a whole new skill set, and he had no idea how to effect the change needed. He wanted to change but somehow couldn’t do it, although his boss had extended the deadline, he knew that his boss wouldn’t wait forever.

I explained parallel process to Jeremy, how as coaches, we experience the feelings that our clients are experiencing and without awareness, we misread them as our own. When the feelings are looked at as data, other information that we collect in a non-intellectual capacity, it opens up a whole new avenue to explore with our clients.

As he saw the potential truth of that, I saw a shift in Jeremy and I knew that next time he met with his client, he would be different with him. We didn’t explore what he would do, or how he would be different because I’ve seen this shift often enough to know that in the moment, trusting his own intuition, having seen what he’d now seen, he would know what to do when the time is right.

 

Maria Iliffe-Wood is a coach supervisor, leadership growth coach and team coach. She also works with coaches who would like to write a book but either can’t get started or who have got writer’s block. Maria is the author of Coaching Presence, Building Consciousness and Awareness into Coaching Conversations an academic book for coaches and a second book which is something completely different, Daily Yarns, Riding the Lockdown Roller Coaster of Emotions.