I have been thinking about writing this for a while and I want to give it a try today. I love this topic so much for the simple reason that I grew up in a very conversational-driven environment and I eventually became a coach by age 25 to start this journey with a more structured approach.
The focus of the article is how a conversation with another person gives the gift of being able to coach yourself in real-time, build trust and relationship with the other and increase understanding of your own thoughts, beliefs and perceptions.
To me a conversation can be seen as art, it’s a practice that we can use in our daily life and work to make our life better because in a conversation we can:
- Use ourselves as a mirror or supporting object for the other
- use the other as a mirror or supporting object for ourselves
What am I trying to tell you?
That you can use any conversation to help yourself progress in your work and life, that you can learn, solve important questions, you can build trust, develop friendship, check the others’ world views, beliefs, values, and you can use the conversation to feel better or transform your day into a great day. Any time you are feeling stuck or if you can’t find the way to “think differently”, you can use a conversation to shift and offer yourself, and the other(s), a much better situation than before you start it.
It is partly for this reason as well that I am creating a conversational technology to offer individuals a way to use our own conversations to self-coach in any moment of our life, whether it is at home with ourselves, our friends or family, at school while studying and doing projects with others or interacting with teachers, at work with colleagues or your boss and with clients or partners (if you are a student or a learner, you will like this new tool to develop that capacity). A good conversation, from my experience, can enable you to reach any of your goals constructively, build trust and use conflict to make meaningful learnings.
So how can I use my conversation with someone else to coach myself?
You can do so by applying five great communication approaches:
- Speaking with “I”
- Asking others what they think about what you say
- Reframing what you say or asking others to tell you what they hear
- Taking time to listen
- Telling others if you have a different point of view
Here are more details about each of the five approaches:
Speaking with “I” and telling things by having the other understand you are speaking from your own experience, or from what you believe is true, in all honesty. If you are afraid of the other’s judgement or misunderstanding, then simply say “I may be wrong but I think XYZ” and if you want to, you can provide the reasons why you believe so or choose to do so or say so. If you have a person in front of you, that person will listen to you, question you, or understand that you are simply sharing something and that you may be ready to use it or change it wisely if you learn why it’s right or wrong, or even just not appropriate. This will help you extract things out of yourself in order to see them or hear them, giving you more opportunities to better understand yourself and your perceptions.
Asking what the other thinks about what you say will help you engage the other in the conversation and help yourself have another perspective. This will help you understand how the other is perceiving your information, hence naturally informing you whether or not this was the perception you intended. This means that you get the opportunity to change the way you communicate in order to finally deliver the message you want. We all make communication mistakes; we all create misunderstandings or conflicts sometimes and other uncomfortable feelings can be created by our own lack of communication. This is also a great way to be building a relationship, a dialogue and trust with someone because you are inviting the other to share what he/she thinks or knows. That’s also how you can start developing great stories and discover the other in many different ways, as long as you stay in a “dialogue” (sharing meanings) and don’t step into a debate or a discussion where you push the other away, which create a dissociation instead of an association.
Reframing yourself during the conversation or proposing the other to reframe what you have said in his/her words is an invitation to say things differently if the other is not comfortable with or doesn’t understand fully what you mean. Doing this, not only gives you the opportunity to learn how what you say can be said differently (giving you new words and new perspectives to improve your communication), but it also gives you new ideas and awareness about your situation or problem. It will also help you to get to another level of trust and relationship with the person because you are allowing the other to use what you say with his/her own words in order to facilitate his/her own meaning-making. This is a great way to develop a trusted and enriching dialogue because each of the parties becomes able to share their own meaning and world view. This establishes acceptance and trust in your conversation without you having to think about it.
Take the time to listen to what the other says in order to offer the speaker the rewards that delivering his/her own thoughts will produce. Research explains that sharing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding. Additionally, developing patience and listening will give you the opportunity to let your ideas go and float for a while, which gives you a real opportunity for understanding whether you like an idea or not, whether your idea is well framed or not, and whether your idea is helpful or not. Taking the time to listen is not only respectful of the other but it can impact you more than you think, in a positive way, because you can sometimes understand that the other is thinking the same or you can simply understand, by waiting a little bit, that your idea is not satisfying and so you gain a chance to review it. Finally, listening is also a great way to inform yourself about different world views and it can be very helpful to become aware that we may not be alone in seeing X or Y in a particular or different way. Listening always brings you opportunities to learn new things as well as many things about yourself.
If you disagree or have a different point of view it’s fine, you can simply tell the other that you are seeing things differently without having to convince them that you are right. This will create the opportunity to be comfortable with you because you are not judging and you are helping to build trust. At the same time, doing this naturally rewards you in decreasing the stress or the frustration that you may be holding simply because you will frame or say things in a way that the other can take, without throwing it back to you. This naturally positions you in a situation where you have more and more space for different and contradicting realities, which finally helps you expand your vision and understanding of the situation or the problem.
Going back to the question of how we can use a conversation with others to self-coach and help ourselves in any situation, the five approaches here above offer us the way to:
- Set up a good level of relationship with others that will enable us to help ourselves,
- Convey our messages in a constructive way that we can modify and adjust continuously so that it is heard and understood,
- Check our own ideas with others in order to benefit from another source of thinking to clarify our reasoning,
- Replace stress and frustration with better states that help us feel good, feel heard, feel understood, feel helped and supported. Although we may be challenged, we can still be in a conversation that is helping us do our own sense-making, and helping us to seek our own answers without offending the other and creating rewards and learning for both parties.
I’d be happy to know about your situations that may have prevented and may be preventing you from getting what you want. This will most probably help me check other aspects that I haven’t explained and that may be worth adding to the article.
If you want to get better at using conversations to help yourself and help others, you can develop your own conversation and self-coach here.