Edgy Coaching, Part 1: Straddle the edge without falling off

How do you balance edgy/challenging coaching with customer service/making the client happy?
Answer:   If you’re asking about group or corporate clients, please let me know and I’ll address that in another post. This is such a great – and loaded – question that I’ve decided to break it down into a 4-post series. Stay tuned for the next 3 parts!challenging coaching

For now, the quick and dirty answer is, I don’t.  I don’t try to balance these two because in my work, they are not mutually exclusive but one and the same.  If I’m not challenging them or being edgy enough, I’m NOT providing customer service and don’t have a happy client.  And, if you knew me, you’d know that I’m not terribly interested in customer service or making people happy. If people want to be happy, they can go to Disney and I encourage this kind of vacation! But that’s certainly not why my clients retain me, and this expectation is established early and often.

However, there is a finesse to challenging someone in a way that offers both a) the greatest opportunity for immediately applicable insight, learning, and action (or inaction in some cases), and b) satisfies their expectations. So, I don’t focus on balancing but rather ensuring that they leave each and every session with a powerful insight and an immediate way to act on that insight to embed the learning.  (Neuroscience shows us that acting on insight is key to sustainable change.)  The fact of the matter is – when you’ve reached your destination, you forget about the potholes along the way. This is a great question for which the answer is multi- dimensional, but here is an abbreviated list of four CORE ways I make the ride a little less bumpy:

1.     CONTEXT: In my work, accountability and mistake-making are our friends.  Not only do clients have a different experience of being accountable, but it is desirable.  Both are optimal experiences, and I demonstrate that it’s ok to make mistakes and then account for them because of the learning curve – learning curves aren’t just for kids anymore.  It’s ok to be a little cerebral – to hold their actions in front of them like a crystal ball, “Oh wow! Look what I did! Look what happens when we do this! I wonder what would happen if I did that!?!” This allows me to be as edgy and challenging as possible. BTW, when did it become not OK for adults to make mistakes and learn???  No wonder nobody wants to be accountable! At my company, I’ve created an environment where grown-ups can first play with accountability and really dig it – and then take it into their lives where the power really lies.  This is a fantastic experience and fosters most kinds of change quickly and sustainably.

Next time, I’ll take you through the next step of balancing the edge that I love so much with customer service, but for now remember: With finesse, they can be one in the same

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