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By Mandy Gutsell CPCC

‘Self-Management’ is the last in a series of articles written by CTI trained coaches which focus on the five contexts of the Co-active coaching model. Each context represents a point of contact with the client.

The ‘nodding dog’ syndrome. The glazed look. Being asked “What did you just say?” and knowing you cannot answer. If we are honest I am sure we all have moments where we have both asked and been on both the receiving end of such experiences.

Of course in the context of coaching, the ideal will be that you’re 100% connected with your client at all times, letting the conversation flow through and around you, and yet there will be times when it doesn’t happen like that. A noise outside may distract you or something the client says may provide a metaphorical mirror for something in your own life, and you drift off into your own thoughts.

Well, the good news is this is where the Co-active context of Self Management can help, whether you are a coach or someone wanting to further their ability to be fully present for another person. The essence of self management is the ability to set aside personal opinions, pride, defensiveness, needing to look good and being right. In practice it represents a combination of self awareness and the skill of recovery. It involves an awareness of yourself, an ability to notice where you are or where you have gone in relationship to another person, and the ability to get back and reconnect.

If you notice you have become distracted when listening to another person be honest about it. Most people can sense when someone is distracted or not really listening to them. They will value your honesty and know that you are truly valuing your relationship with them enough to want to be fully present to all they have to share. If it’s an ongoing distraction that is going to be difficult to ignore, do something about it. Don’t pretend it’s not happening and try to plough on. For example, recently I had a face-to-face coaching session at my home. My dog had decided he wanted to join the conversation and was outside whining and barking to put it mildly. I was so distracted by it, I asked the client’s permission if she minded me putting the dog away in the utility room. This was not a time to be polite.

If you find you are becoming distracted on a number of occasions with the same client, get curious. ‘What’s trying to happen here?’ ‘Is there a theme emerging?’ If this is occurring with a number of clients what do you need as a coach?

This is where self management represents what we do around our sessions. Reading client notes and reminding yourself of the agenda you are holding for the client is good preparation. Recording sessions with the client’s permission is a fantastic way to reflect your skills. I would strongly encourage more experienced coaches to record their sessions just as they may have done in the earlier days of training. We can all fall into bad habits.

For coaches in training you may want to pin up the principles and models of coaching you have being learning in front of you as a focus. Or have structures to remind you of an agenda you are holding for the client. I have a colourful squidgy I hold with a client whose Big Agenda is bringing more playfulness and laughter to their life.

Then there’s self-management in the broader context of how we continue to develop as a coach between sessions and clients. For example, as a coach do you have supervision? It is important to take a step back and separate our own transferences from that of the clients. To have a safe place to share our practise in greater service to our clients. If cost is an issue, there are many coaching networks that offer free and reduced supervision, mentoring schemes for new coaches and co-coaching forums.

Finally, for coaches and non-coaches alike there is an even bigger context to self management in our lives. If we want to be as fully present and authentic as possible in our relationships we need to look at what we can do to support this. What daily, weekly or monthly activities can you put into action to help you be fully present in your relationships? Do you need to change your diet? Be more communicative in your relationships? Take more exercise? Participate in the local community?

About Mandy Gutsell
Mandy is the founder of kNOw Limits and is based in the West Midlands. Mandy’s personal philosophy in coaching encompasses the following: The thoughts we have in our minds influence what comes out in our actions and words, creating the lives we live. She coaches people from a belief that everyone has the capacity to change no matter what their background. Accepting clients for who they are with unconditional positive regard and belief that everyone deserves a chance.


Read Other Articles in this series

Co-Active Contexts: Listening

Co-Active Contexts: Intuition

Co-Active Contexts: Curiosity

Co-Active Contexts: Forward the Action, Deepen the Learning