Sharpen Your People Skills
"CALVIN! YOU BIG DUMMY!” I can still hear those words from my Junior High baseball coach being shouted across the field after I dropped an easily thrown ball from our shortstop to me, the first baseman. It wasn’t a positive day for me.
So, you can imagine the thoughts running through my mind when it was presented for me to become a “coach”. Although I knew I would never yell at anyone, I still imagined sitting down with someone, getting a gist of their need, and then proceeding to tell them from my “wealth of knowledge” and “infinite wisdom” how they could solve their problem or head in the right direction. This perception couldn’t have been further from reality than a polar bear in the jungle.
“…I discovered very quickly
that the kind of coaching we were discussing
was not about TALKING but LISTENING.”
As I began the training process, I discovered very quickly that the kind of coaching we were discussing was not about TALKING but LISTENING. We were continually reminded to be “an active listener”. This type of listening required hearing them not only with my ears, but also with my mind, which was displayed through my body language, eye contact, and limited verbal interaction.
The goal was to ask intentional, thought-provoking questions to allow the client to “self-discover” what they needed to do about the issue at hand. Since every coaching session is ALWAYS about the client, they set the agenda for the session and not the coach. It was difficult in the beginning not to get in “counseling” mode by telling the person being coached what I thought they should do in a particular situation. I, also found out that the awkward silence after me asking a tough question to help them self-discover, was not a bad thing and that I had to let the person process and think before they were comfortable responding.
The coaching training that I received through the SMD Coaching Network has made me rethink how I respond to people in everyday situations. The preacher in me continually wants to “tell” them what they should do and this needs to happen in some situations. The coach in me, however, now wants them to find this out on their own. The process of being a coach has strengthened my listening skills which is what many are really wanting and needing. People from all walks of life and backgrounds just want someone to listen to them! So even if I never become a coach with lots of clients, the listening element of coaching has, and will continue to benefit my ministry to people by really “hearing” what they are trying to say.
If you are considering becoming a coach, I would strongly encourage you to invest in yourself and give it a try. Whether you are in full-time ministry or not, becoming a coach will sharpen your relational engagement with people- which is what it’s all about!
Every leader needs to be coached; every leader needs to become a trained coach.