I’ve always been a fan of good coaching, and ensuring that our teams in professional services maintain a good coaching culture. Despite this, a single sentence completely changed how I understood the importance of coaching:
“One conversation can change a person’s life“
This is something that I first remember hearing on one of the leadership courses I was fortunate enough to attend early on in my career. It’s a notion that has stuck with me ever since and one which I will never forget. It’s also proven to be true: I can think back to three or four conversations in the early stages of my career that led to me being where I am now. Had even one of those conversations gone differently, I might have started down an entirely different career path and be living on a different continent!
One conversation can change your life. It sounds so simple; you’re almost tempted to shrug it off without a second thought. Until you actually consider the implications for you as someone who is responsible for coaching (whether in a formal or informal capacity) that is. The thought that, in the space of a few words, someone could make a decision that completely changes what they’ll be remembered for is a daunting proposition.
All of a sudden there’s so much more riding on our coaching conversation; so much responsibility behind the respect and time given to us by our coachees. It’s a thought that could quite easily make you petrified of giving anybody advice, for fear of someone making a poor decision because of it.
Personally, this notion makes me respect the interactions I have with people that much more. It reminds me to be present in every conversation, to listen actively, and to be open and honest at all times. It’s also not only the idea that what I say could change my coachee’s life; very often I get the feeling that it might be something my coachee says that changes my life.
It goes without saying that not every conversation will lead to a life-altering decision, but we should go into every meaningful conversation with the idea that it could. If we recognise the value of meaningful conversation and embrace the path that it takes us on, I truly believe we can all extract a lot more value from our professional relationships.
Next time you’re in a coaching conversation, keep this idea in the back of your mind and use it to frame how you participate in the conversation.
Have you seen real-life outcomes from this concept? Tell us about the last conversation you had which sent you on a different path in the comments below!
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