Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I lost my magic wand

I've been thinking a good deal lately about listening to others, really listening. And about my own need to be heard.

When I took my training as a life coach, I was told something I already knew but sometimes forget: People want to be heard. Typically, people do not want (or need) advice. They want a chance to tell their story, to talk about what's happening in their life at the moment and then to select options from among those that they discover as they're talking with you. That said, I've had a few (but very few) people who inquired about coaching and seemed to want someone with a magic wand or magic bullet—someone who could tell them what to do and they'd simply follow the directions. And voila! Life would be perfect. I don't take those people as clients because that isn't how I operate—and anyway, I seem to have misplaced my magic wand! They don't want to do the hard work required to come out on the other side of their life issues.

You're smarter than that, though. You know life doesn't work that way and that, in fact, you have your own wisdom. Sometimes you just need another person to listen deeply to you, ask thoughtful questions, help you delve a bit more deeply, perhaps even suggest alternative ways of viewing whatever is going on in your life and then invite you to goal-setting and action. That's not only what coaching is all about, it's what good friends do for you, too.

Have you ever been tempted to tell a friend what to do when she pours out her heart about a difficult situation? Yes, it's tempting to sort through all those bits of wisdom you've accumulated through the years and find something that fits for her. Resist. Instead, help her access her own wisdom. If she digs down deeply enough, she'll find it's been there all the time. When she finds her own solution (perhaps with your listening skills helping her!), it will be one that will fit for her. She'll feel good, and so will you.

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