By Matt Kirilov
It’s time that I break my FOBR (Fear of Being Redundant) streak and write about what’s been on my mind for a while.
A few months back my mentor and co-owner of the leading coaching academy in the Agile Coaching and coaching worlds, Cherie Silas mentioned that people like being noticed during one of her advanced coaching classes I was lucky to be invited to. I knew that I was in the right class because everyone there was smarter and more experienced than me. A proof of this was that when I asked about the importance of people being noticed, everyone else seemed to be bored with the subject.
The only reference I had about people being noticed or seen up until that point was informed by a sexist stereotype that often gets rolled into a dating advice – that women like to be seen.
Yes, …and…I like to be seen too, being an introvert and all. And so do you! There is no need for the obligatory neuroscience and psychology citations to back up something that obvious.
It is not that we do not see each other. It is more of a +1 to the common communication anti-patterns – talking past one another without truly listening to each other. I do that too and I suspect that sometimes you do that as well. Oh, you don’t? Really?!?! So you never click the ‘Like’ button without fully viewing the content, ever?
I will take a guess that as coaches we work a lot more on our listening skills than on our ‘noticing people‘ skills. Perhaps that is why the ICF has:
Notices, acknowledges and explores that client’s emotions, energy shifts, non-verbal cues or other behaviors.
Integrates the client’s words, tone of voice, and body language to determine the full meaning of what is being communicated.
both nested under the Listens Actively core competency. The federation came a long way changing the verbal context of Active Listening to the more wholistic Listens Actively in 2020. I would go even farther and grant the more visual and kinetic competency of Noticing (seeing) its own core competency and name it something like Active Noticing.
My recent focus on noticing people has led me onto a new Agile Coaching learning plane. At times I get so tightly wound around my recommendations that I do become an Agile hammer looking for Agile nails to hit. Worse, I temporarily black out on Norm Kerth‘s Prime Directive and on the directive’s more evolved version of:
Holding people as naturally creative, resourceful, whole, and capable.
The wise words hold true for me until I walk into a room full of team members who are worlds away from ‘doing’ my ideal of Agile. All of a sudden my mind flips a switch and I instantly start viewing these people as broken.
They practice broken Agile, therefore they are broken people.
— my mind instantly concludes. This mindset immediately causes me to show up as judgmental and offensive to the people in that room.
Who is this guy to think that we are all broken? We’ve kept the lights on in this company for X years.
— is people’s natural reaction. I feel them getting defensive and irritated by the minute, which then farther reinforces my belief that:
Oh, they are getting defensive and reject me and my brilliant Agile stuff. They are definitely broken.
This makes me want to fix them (usually disguised as an urge to help) even more. Initially professionalism and common courtesy stops people from resisting my ‘help.’ However, after a short while in our engagement people start doing what people have done for many thousands of years – they give in to what has been keeping them safe – fight, or freeze, or flight.
No. People will not freeze in front of nor dash away from an Agile Coach, but they will gradually start to passively ignore my advances towards fixing them (no matter how well intended).
Ending in such, albeit all too common, situation breaks an Agile Coach’s little heart.
If they only knew how much I care about them and how much I want to help them!
Then I revamp my effort to ‘reach’ these ‘broken’ people and ‘save’ them by offering them so called better ways of working. I pick myself up by my bootstraps and try even harder. On occasion people try things and take on our advice and even succeed with it. Alas, the vast majority of people will push back, as they should. The discipline of Systems Thinking has recognized this as Law#2:
The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back.
The system is a metaphor for your organization. And since the cubicles, conference rooms, and cafeterias are minor contributors to company strategy the organization is the sum of its people.
You may think that your brain is logical and that by default it makes the right assumptions about people. The proof of the opposite is in the pudding – as an industry us Agile Coaches spend a lot of time and billions of billing hours trying to fix people who are not broken.
What if we fixed ourselves first?
What if we did recognize that people are naturally creative, resourceful, whole, and capable (and therefore, by definition not broken)?
How would you show up as an Agile Coach with such an assumption?
How would people show up to you differently if you approached them in that way?
All of this is easy to assume and hard to put into practice because our brains are brilliant at tricking us into assumptions such as the ones that people are broken. It is much easier to stoke our Agile Coach egos and play saviors of the broken team members and leaders, rather than recognize that people are fully capable and that’s how they got their gigs in the first place.
Now the harder part.
What if after years of practicing not fixing people we took it a notch up and started noticing people?
I am offering the notion to not only stop trying to fix people who are not broken, but to assume that they are fully capable and to start noticing them. Maybe we can notice them not only for a split second and register it as a piece of information in our brain, but reflect what we notice back to them. Even us Agile Coaches like to be seen and acknowledged when not on our high horses.
How differently are people likely to reach out to you for advice if you approached them in this way?
How does this land with you? Let’s have a discussion.
|© 2020 by Matt Kirilov|
All Rights Reserved
This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/3ENj