I got a call from a client last week who felt like she was on the verge of doing something drastic. Betty finally snapped when she discovered for the umpteenth time that “the top person on her team was a two-faced _____.” Betty was referring to Sheri who is “all nicey-nice with me and was telling me how great the training was and then turns around and tells everyone else that my meeting was a waste of time.”
Betty didn’t want to be coached. She wanted me to sympathize. She wanted to be heard. She wanted me to agree. And then she wanted to drive over to Sheri’s house, tell her off, and tell her to disappear. This was not a coaching moment. I listened while Betty talked, I affirmed her as a worthwhile person, and I tried to be emotionally supportive, but what I didn’t do was coach. Betty didn’t want to be coached. She wanted to release all those pent-up emotions that were being generated. While the remainder of my session with Betty needs to be confidential, I doubt that her reaction is unique to situations like this.
- Betty values authenticity and transparency. She sees Sheri as being everything but that.
- Betty feels her authority is being questioned. She is ready for the big shootout at high noon.
- Betty is so far over the anger edge that she wants revenge.
If this was a new situation, then Betty has an easy opportunity to correct or repair things by having a direct conversation with Sheri. In fact, for most situations, a direct conversation would seem to be a key part of any progress on relationship repair.
However, this is not a new situation; Betty just wasn’t going to ignore it any longer. As Betty talked, I think the fact that she was talking to a coach mattered. Betty coached herself through this situation, and I got to be her witness. Betty’s solution eventually went in a very different direction from what I expected. By venting out loud and talking through her feelings, she used the coaching opportunity to find HER solution.
- Betty realized she is only responsible for her reaction to the situation. She won’t change Sheri; she can only change her feelings.
- By focusing on Sheri, Betty was missing all of the positive reactions around her. The overwhelming reactions from other people on the team were very positive in both word and deed.
- By reflecting on her reactions and those of other team members, Betty is on the verge of exploding her business. Sheri’s negative influence was waning.
While Betty’s near future is not without difficulties, she has shifted her focus to what she can control (her attitude), the positive activities around her, and away from the negative influencers. That’s often the perfect recipe for growing your influence and your results.
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