Finally Dan and I had signed our Outcomes Contract. It really took some patience and gentle prodding to reach that point. So gentle, that after his third failure to write up his desired outcomes, I suggested in an email that it may not be the right time for him to do this and that I would be available in the future when he was ready. Within an hour, I had the contract back with some impressive thinking and goals along with an apologetic email for the delay.
The following week, after very careful preparation, I sat and waited for the phone to ring. After waiting for 45 minutes, I sent off an email to see if I could get his attention. I continued waiting and still no call or a response to my email.
While I was waiting for the phone to ring, there was plenty of time to think. I was wondering how I would handle this situation. For me it was important to make it clear that we both be prepared and on time for our coaching sessions. At the same time, I had concerns about being so strong that I would be confused with a parent or some other ‘authority’ figure in Dan’s life. The approach would certainly determine whether we could keep this on a professional business basis and still have a good foundation for actually having our coaching session. However, if this was not addressed it would most likely be a recurring situation.
After waiting over an hour, the phone rang. It was Dan. He said “I’m sorry for calling so late. I was tied up in a meeting that lasted longer than I had anticipated.” I have 25 years of business experience that included meetings, deadlines and promises. To simply accept this excuse would negate a lot of that experience and Dan would lose out on an opportunity to learn and improve. I said, “Dan, may I coach you?” Dan said, “Yes.” I continued, “it is really important to meet commitments whether it is a promised phone call or something else. We made a commitment to be on time and prepared for our calls in the Outcomes Agreement. I know that things can come up, but then it is important to inform the other person in time or, if necessary, excuse yourself from a meeting and call or email the other person. Just the other day, I had a similar situation. I had made a commitment to call my coach at a certain time and then an unexpected but critical meeting came up. I wrote her an email saying that I would not be able to call her at the appointed time and then just to be certain I called her at the regular time to say that I could not talk, but could we rescheduled. All of this only took a couple of minutes, but saved both of us a lot of time.”
Dan said, “I understand what you are saying and agree that it is important. Can we leave this as a learning experience and go on from here?” Of course, I agreed and then told him, “Dan it is a privilege and an honor to be coaching you; and your success is extremely important to me and I will do what I can to help you achieve your goals.” Over the telephone I could ‘hear’ the smile on his face as he said “thank you.” This transitional statement was key because it allowed Dan to feel good about himself and it provided a great start to the rest of the conversation. This learning came from my coaches, Germaine Porche’ and Jed Niederer, for they taught me by their actions of how to value a person and then in this case, take someone from an uncomfortable, but necessary conversation, into a positive mood to continue a dialog.
Susan Bagura is a business coach and practices in the UK. She earned her coaching certification through CoachLab. The Coaching RoadMap and DreamMakers/DreamBrakers Audit that Susan uses are part of the CoachLab International Archived Tools & Techniques which can be downloaded by any CLI member. A detailed description of the use of these tools can be found in the book, “COACH ANYONE ABOUT ANYTHING,” Wharton Publishing.
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