Coach in Training: Staying Neutral
Coach in Training: Staying Neutral

By: Kim Green

Neutrality.

Being neutral is tough. The anxiety that surrounds the election is something that I hoped to avoid for these two sacred coaching calls…. But that is not what happened.

Now that we have learned all the names, tools and competencies, it was time to put them to work. It started out easy. On Tuesday, Lynn taught us the actual shape of a coaching conversation. A good coaching session has a beginning, middle and end. We now know that the beginning of a call loosely sets up the agenda of the call identifying what the client wants to accomplish, the middle is for the analysis, going deeper into the issue and the end of the call is when the action items are discussed and accountabilities for the next meeting are set. 

At the end of Tuesday’s class, Lynn asked if anyone wanted to be coached for a few minutes so the class could see the disciplines we’ve discussed in real time. I volunteered. My issue was and still is dealing with an impossible deadline that has me very stressed out. The task: completing a book in the next 4-6weeks.

What was most helpful out of the 10-minute coaching experiment was that Lynn helped me get out of my fear in order to construct a game plan for completing the task. If I stick to the guidelines that I set, it may happen. I hope. That’s almost as important as the fact that I can now deal with the logistics of what I have to do, within the parameters of the discussion without feeling the doom and desperation that I felt before that 10-minute coaching session took place. 

Truthfully, the schedule that I created is quite ambitious with my current state of exhaustion, but it was a guideline that I could at least have in place with amendments allowed, which is very helpful. Being coached by Lynn gave my “problem” some shape, some tangibility, this thing that was formerly an amorphous blob oozing all over my mind, body and soul.

The truth is that Lynn is a masterful coach. In the light of this daunting deadline she remained calm, peaceful and pragmatic. She coached me to a place where it was possible to discuss possibilities without my knotty emotions taking over. She was able to calm me down in spite of it all. 

The experience of Thursday’s call was another thing all together. Emotions were high. Lynn asked for a volunteer and my classmate was courageous enough to request to be coached through her confusion about whom to vote for in the upcoming election.

A particular Achilles heel of mine.

As I attempted to embody the coach’s persona, even now as I attempt to write about it, staying neutral is a challenge.  Thank God for the mute button.  It was incredibly hard to stay calm and quiet while listening to what was, for me, an unintentional assault. 

Nonetheless, this exercise in neutrality was immeasurably valuable for my coach-self. Listening to the difficult conversation forced me to accept the fact that everyone has the right to vote for whomever they want. Most importantly, I had to see that everyone has the right to see the world through one’s own lens. It’s not about me. Just when I think I know that it’s not about me, my inner archaeologist emerges, urging me to dig into my history, wanting to yell, “your words are hard and painful for me to hear, being who I am, covered in the skin that I am.”  But sitting through it made me aware that my classmate also has her own skin and all that comes with it.  That made it a tad easier to listen to her, allow her to think the way she wants to.

The mute button did help as my classmate tussled aloud with her own doubts, fears, anger and inquiries as she talked candidly through this stressful topic of whom should be our next President. As I listened, I couldn’t help having my own thoughts and emotions.

Lynn’s line of powerful questions were so well tooled that Lynn was able to remain calm, curious and most importantly, believing in her “client” to come to her own epiphany. The job of the coach is to let our clients feel safe enough to go through what they need to in their own way. Lynn left my classmate to her own devices to figure out what was driving me crazy, behind my mute button.  My brilliant, competent, courageous, complete classmate finally said, “I realize how much I don’t know.”

At that moment, I felt a release of my need for her to feel the way that I do. I stepped out of my skin into the coach’s playground, neutrality.

Another breakthrough.

Kim Green is a writer and a student at The Institute for Life Coach Training. In this blog series, she has documented her experience as she goes through the Foundational training. To read about Kim's journey, click here.

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