This Gutsy Coaching Moment is from Germaine Porché and Jed Niederer, Co-authors of COACH ANYONE ABOUT ANYTHING, How to Help People Succeed in Business and Life.
Terri was the manager of the #1 store in a chain of boutiques. She’d trained twenty people or more in her 3-year retail management career. The owners of the chain sent people through her store to be exposed to this retail master. Terri was good, really good.
Today, Terri wasn’t feeling like she was good. Today Terri was feeling like she was rather ineffective. The owners had sent Ruth, a salesperson, to work with Terri before they would make her store manager at another location. Ruth was experienced. Perhaps too experienced. It seemed that every time Terri tried to tell her something, Ruth would say, “I know, I know.”
Terri went home that night pretty down. Then the phone rang. It was her friend, Paula, an elementary school teacher. Paula said, “Terri, I’m reading this great book about coaching.” Terri asked, “Does it tell you how to deal with “know-it-alls?” Paula replied, “Well, as a matter of fact, there is a whole chapter devoted to that…”
Paula proceeded to tell Terri some of the things she’d learned from reading the book.
The next day at the store, Terri watched as Ruth straightened a pile of sweaters. “Terri ,” she said to herself, “if I’m going to contribute anything to this woman it better be soon ’cause she’s out of here next week. Well, here goes.” Terri sighed a little bit and walked toward Ruth.
“Excuse me, Ruth, may I talk to you for a moment?” “Sure,” Ruth said. They walked casually toward the back door of the store together.
“Ruth, may I coach you?” Terri asked. “What?” Ruth asked. “May I coach you?” Terri repeated. “Okay, I guess so,” Ruth said.
“Great. Let me tell you what I mean by coaching…” Ruth interrupted, “Oh, I know what you mean.” Terri said, “Would you be willing to consider the possibility that you don’t know?” Terri countered. “What?” Ruth asked. Terri then said, “Ruth, what I mean is that I think I have something to tell you that might be of benefit to you, but you’ll never know unless you listen as though you might hear something new.” Ruth just looked at Terri.
Terri said, “Someday, Ruth, you’re going to have to train someone who thinks they know everything.” “Oh yes, I know that,” Ruth said. “Someone like you, Ruth,” Terri whispered.
Ruth’s eyebrows rose a full inch as she cocked her head to one side. Terri continued, “Oh, I realize you don’t mean to come off like a know-it-all, Ruth. But you do anyway. And it makes it so hard to contribute to you, even though I know you have a burning desire to learn and grow.”
“That’s true, I do want to learn and grow. I didn’t realize I came off like a know-it-all. I apologize,” Ruth said sincerely. “Thank you,” Terri said. “Thank you for being so coachable just now.”
“Now, what was the coaching you wanted to give me?” Ruth asked. “Just kidding, Terri, I got the coaching.”
“Whew, I thought I was going to have to go to Plan B,” Terri gasped. “What is plan B?” Ruth queried. “Don’t you know?” Terri said slowly. They burst into laughter and laughed for many moments more.
Gutsy Coaching Moments™ is published monthly by CoachLab® International for its members.
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