$ Fair enough. Next one. Complimenting, praising.
$ That’s your favorite one.
$ Unfortunately. Usually, when clients talk about what they did, I reinforce them, reward, encourage.
$ And when they auto-flagellate for what they did, you always find a ray of hope: advantages of every situation. People come here to get this, anyway. If they are upset about their progress in learning languages or about their lives in general. They pay you for this, don’t they? What’s wrong with it?
$ If they tell me about their so called success and I congratulate them or if they complain and I still can find something to congratulate them on, we stay in Parent-Child relation. A child per se has recently come to this world, they have been learning this world and they need reinforcement. When adults come to coaching they are reinforced by their Inner Adult so they aren’t at the mercy of other’s praise. Another thing, what I say from the level of my Inner Adult can reach the level of the Inner Child of the client and be perceived as a parent’s stroke.
$ I’m not sure I get it.
$ For example, there comes a client who is learning a language before getting married and leaving to her future husband’s country. She went there to some job interviews to which we had been preparing so I’m asking how it was. And what she tells me is: I’ll tell you some time later but now I’d like to go through chapter 5 because I’m leaving soon and I have been studying so little. So I explained that in my opinion ‘some time later’ was a nare’s nest because we met seldom, a couple of times a year (which is a coaching principle anyway) so next time the results of her job interviews would probably be irrelevant.
$ Inner Adult would say: today I’m choosing chapter 5 instead of talking about my job interviews.
$ Assuming that it is true and not a way of escaping from a challenging subject into the safe chapter 5.
$ No escapism in the Adult’s life?
$ Inner Adult is pragmatic: if I decide to go through chapter 5 I’ll organize my time so well that I will do it, I don’t need my coach to assist me. I may need my coach when I have questions or doubts. Anyway, after my remark about the nare’s nest my client said: I’m happy you insist so much because that makes me feel important.
$ Frankly, you didn’t insist.
$ That’s what I’m saying. What’s next? One-upping.
$ What does it mean?
$ For example. Talking to my friend, I confess: Recently I have been living a very stressful life. It has been going on like this for months and I feel so exhausted and so helpless that I have came back to one of my childhood strategies: eating at problems, which of course gets me down more than the stress itself because I believed I was over it, I was sure I would never ever come back to that strategy. And what does my friend say? And I lost weight. Compared to Christmas last year it’s 20 pounds less.
$ Two parallel planes and not adjacent. Something similar blocks me, too. When I am talking about myself and my partner regards my confessions as a diving board from which he can jump up to his own stories.
$ Starting with: and I…
$ Or: I remember when….
$ So called story telling. This has always been my weakness. What’s worse, I nurtured it in all good faith: since you have a problem that I solved once I’ll share my experience and you’ll take advantage of it.
$ If the intention is so empathic, how can story telling block the communication?
$ Because it’s only the lid of the real intention which is: to shine, to impress, to show the world that I am a star, that I succeeded.
$ Exactly. That is why one day I swore to share my experience only if people want me to do so or ask me directly to give advice.
$ Enrolling for language coaching.
$ That’s not so evident. I can enroll for coaching to calm down my bad conscious, because I’m snobbish, because somebody else did.
$ Or hoping that after coaching my life with linguistic ignorance will be more pleasant.
$ Fortunately, it’s a rare motivation.
$ And how did it go? Were you able to get rid of your addiction to story-telling?
$ Not quite. I wanted to toot my own horn so much that I couldn’t put a sock in it so I needed to invent a transition strategy.
$ When somebody was speaking and I felt an overwhelming desire to tell a story I asked: Would you mind if I told you… or: Do you feel like listening…
$ You gave your partner a choice and you gave yourself time to continue your rehab. Did it work? Did people buy it?
$ Again, nothing changed before I had changed deep inside. It must have been happening gradually. I remember (I remember! You see!) one coaching class. A client of mine was talking about a problem of hers and I was totally convinced that exactly this experience was perfect for her. I was sure you couldn’t compare this experience to any other so it didn’t make sense to refer to anything. What’s more, I knew this experience was unique and it had unique solutions as well as my client was a unique being, different from the person she was at the previous session, nay, a minute ago.
$ That’s when you stopped telling your stories?
$ That’s when it stopped to matter whether I tell them or not. Ego dissolved in this aspect of my person. When my intuition suggests telling a story, I do it. Do you feel like going on with what blocks communication?