Coaching and Listening to Feedback Will Make You Great!

Today I was chased down the street because I didn’t pay for my breakfast...

Usually I don’t walk out of cafes without paying - I’ll tell you more about my red-faced experience in a second. For the last couple of days, I’ve been in Sydney upskilling myself further in Executive Coaching, at the very fancy “Institute of Coaching and Consulting Psychology”. As part of my upskilling, I need to listen to feedback on my coaching style, provide coaching to others, as well as do some serious self-reflection.

University of Sydney min

The Beautiful University of Sydney. Notice the GREEN grass for those of us that call Townsville home.

I’m a big believer that once people stop growing, they also stop being able to help others. Given my job is to enable people to reach goals through intellectual and behavioural changes, I (personally) need to continually develop, hence me signing up the executive coaching course. If I’m being honest, part of me thought it would be a ‘nice refresher’, but actually I learned some amazing things, and even had an epiphany thanks to people practicing their coaching skills on me. Now I’ve set the scene, let me tell you about my breakfast.

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I was warned not to have breakfast at a café that shall remain nameless. But I did, even though it was described to me as ‘bland’ and ‘uninteresting’ (I went because I’m vegetarian, and there were many vegetarian options). The coffee I ordered was weak, and the banana bread was sad and limp. As I sat there trying to distract myself from the nightmare in front of me (there is nothing worse than a bad coffee?!), I couldn’t help but wonder:

WHY is this breakfast so bad?

It’s really hard to get banana bread wrong, isn’t it?

How does this place make any money? How do they pay for their shop rent? How do they pay for their staff?

How long are they going to last here, with all the other competition in the street?

And for the 45 minutes that I sat, eating the dense, unflavoursome and slightly dry banana bread, and drinking my weak soy cappuccino, not once did the staff ask me if ‘everything was alright’. Part of me was hoping that they would ask me for feedback, because I’d like to see them do well. I wondered if I would have told them the truth, and said that their food sucks? I came to the conclusion that yes, I would have (but in a much more diplomatic, emotional intelligent way of course). Why? Maybe I was keen on having a ‘coaching’ style conversation to apply my learnings from the course!

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I don’t know if it was my subconscious, or my conscious, but at the end of my breakfast, I hopped up, pushed my chair in, thanked one of the staff members, and walked out. I was about 20 metres away, down the street, when I heard someone yelling “Excuse me! You haven’t paid!”. At that moment, I thought to myself as I hurried back to the café “Surely, it’s way too early in the day to feel embarrassed”, followed by me analysing if my breakfast was really so bad my subconscious just took me out the door without paying (don’t get any ideas, that’s not going to fly as an excuse!). Oops. I got to the counter and had a joke with the staff member, before continuing on my way and vowing never to go back. Not because I made an ass of myself, but because the whole thing just sucked. I think, with the right questions, and the right feedback, this café could do amazing things though.

Feedback is so important. There are only two things more important than feedback – ASKING for feedback and LISTENING to feedback. It can save a business from closing down, and it can enhance a person’s life. I’ll admit it, being a psychologist, I thought that the coaching course would be a ‘nice refresher’ where I might ‘pick up a few new things’. I was wrong, and I’m happy about that because it means I have the chance to grow and learn, which will make me a better coach, a better psychologist, but also a better partner, a better mum, a better friend, and a more confident person. (See my article on Mentoring)

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I want to help people do the same. I see people every day who have made a commitment to bettering themselves, and doing life differently. It’s not easy to turn up to counselling sessions, or any number of coaching sessions e.g. Career Coaching, Performance Coaching, Executive Coaching but it’s worth it. As I come out of my office, and greet a new client in our cozy waiting area, they usually look a little nervous, which is to be expected. When I see them the second time, I’m usually greeted with a warm smile – you know what you’re in for at this point. It’s a bit scary at the start, because by turning up your indicating to yourself that your keen to change stuff in your life. But once the ‘true’ goals are set, and you’re moving forward through your action plan, it becomes exciting stuff! Life changing stuff!

Because most people don’t know what to expect when they come in for a coaching session, I’ll tell you a little bit about the initial process. The first step is ascertaining either what your goals are, or identifying the problems you want to work on. We spend a lot of time getting this right. For example, ‘Kelly’ told me she had an ‘easy problem to work on’. (This is a red alert for me, it’s the same as when you have someone say to you ‘trust me’...I don’t think so!). Kelly’s goal was to give up eating junk food. We spoke about her motivations for this, what it’s like for her when she’s not eating junk food, and how she’s overcome this in the past. She then had a a-ha moment. She realised that her main issue, was that she wasn’t living her life in a nourished way (she previously did lots of yoga, meditation, exercised and ate well). We found that her behaviours and thoughts were going against her hardcore values and beliefs. The goal soon changed to: “To live my life in a nourished way”, which is very different to “eliminating all junk food”. Had we spent 5 sessions on the latter, she would have reached that goal, which would have been pointless because that wasn’t her true goal and while beneficial, it wouldn’t have given her lasting satisfaction. Through coaching, we work on identifying what the true goals are, to make sure that any changes you make are sustainable and give you the outcomes you are hoping for.

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For anyone that’s wanting to add coaching to their repertoire you might like to check out The Institute of Coaching and Consulting Psychology -

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