How often does someone say to you, in work or another context: “Just let me know if I can help” and you say: “Thanks, I will.”
And then you don’t.
Every ordinary one of us carries round a wealth of experience and wisdom, but we often fail to tap into that of others when it could really help us. Why? It could be pride that prevents us, a reluctance to bother someone, or just a (perceived) lack of time.
Sharing problems and wisdom has been part of the human experience forever; how else would knowledge of fire and the wheel have spread to the whole human race? And now, with 24 hour access to kindly talking apps, we can seek knowledge and information from across the globe instantaneously.
But there’s another way to share and resolve everyday worries, and I believe it is greatly under-used and under-rated. The posh term for it is “peer coaching” but I like to think of it as Constructive Coffee Conversations.
In my last post, I talked about the principles that lie behind a genuine coaching conversation (see Coaching: Just Another Buzzword?). Applied to a coffee session, or a walk in the park if you prefer, there is the potential to turn a moanfest into a constructive conversation that provides a way out for anyone feeling stuck. It can take as little as 10 minutes.
The trick is, if you are the one coaching, to ask open questions, always without trying to anticipate or provide the answers. Find out:
- Where would your friend/colleague like to be at the end of this conversation?
- What is the problem – what lies behind it?
- What are the options for making a change? (Encourage imaginative, off-the-wall suggestions; have a laugh)
- What will the friend/colleague do next to make the change happen?
Stay focused and if it seems appropriate, reward yourselves with cake.
Here’s a quote that follows on from a very pleasant Constructive Coffee Conversation I had with a colleague who felt totally overwhelmed by “duties” and had no time for herself; she made a few small changes and I asked how that felt:
“I feel great. It’s felt quite empowering. It’s like the scales have fallen from my eyes and I can see how simple it is to resolve things by just taking action. Even very small changes have led to quite dramatic results already. It’s fantastic!”