In Coaching there is a lot of work done with one’s own perception. There are situations that can be changed by actions, but also that can be changed by changing the way of perception and assessment of the situation.
Past-, present- and future-orientation
In our thoughts we mainly focus on past and future instead of focusing on present (Weiß, 1991, p. 51). There is also the opinion that there is a distinction between past-oriented and future-oriented persons.
You can find a very interesting video on that below. It is spoken by the famous psychologist Zimardo (Stanford-Prison-Experiment) and it focuses much on today’s youth and their time perspective, but it gives an interesting impulse on how time perspectives affect our perception.
What kind of oriented type are you? Or are you a different oriented type depending on situations?
Different time perspectives influence our thinking and actions and not only our own perception on ourselfs, but also the perception on other people.
Another thing to have in mind is the prefered communication channel someone has in a certain situation or even in general.
Have in mind Paul Watzlawicks famous quote: “One cannot not communicate.” (Wikipedia, 2014).
But how do we communicate?
First we need to distinguish into verbal (1) and non-verbal (2) communication.
Verbal communication seems pretty clear, but it is not only what someone says. The same sentence may be understood differently by others depending on how it is said. For example tone, speed and volume. But also the understanding depends on the situation or the social and ethnical background or if you talk to residents or foreigner.
Non-verbal Communication is everything else like gestures, mimic, posture, behaviour etc. Emotions are understood to be universal. Meaning every healthy human on this planet is able to distinguish between a happy person smiling and an angry person knitting one’s eyebrows. Some gestures and postures are also the same in many countries, but only by observation it is possible to read the bodylanguage since manifestation of postures are interindividual.
Another distinction needs to be made in (3) conscious and (4) unconcious communication. Non-verbal communication is mainly unconcious. Or are you aware of how your feet stand on the ground while talking to a person you like and how it is differently when you dislike the person?
Since we will have E-peer coaching as this OOCs outcome there is also the distinction between (5) face-to-face communication or (6) communication from a distance e.g. telephone call, video conference, e-mail. So there is also not only (7) spoken communication, but also written communication (8). In written communication there can be differences in expression, punctiation, way of writting and maybe emoticons that can giveimportant information about the writer.
In either way it is important to listen carefully not only on what is said of written, but how it is said and written.
Pattern states in Coaching
One of the indirect results of coaching is the emotional self-awareness and it is activated by the coach through questions focusing on feelings, affects, etc. But this is not only a result from coaching for the client, but also an ability the coach needs.
For the client it means to be aware of one’s feelings and attitude it is the knowledge or perception of the self. Knowing about your current emotional state and what influences it, is the first step to changing this state.
“The change of pattern state is a change of perspective or angle of view. The search for solutions is not performed from a problem state or problem view, but by analyzing the steps that led to the desired objective along an objective vision from the solution state. It is not possible and not necessary to delete the malfunctioning problem state. Instead, it is important to focus on the visualized solution state (Schmidt, 2012, p. 114). The pattern state with its focus on the problem or solution depends on the purely subjective emotional evaluation of a client in a situation. Emotions play a decisive role in life and they guide or lead actions (Gluck, Mercado & Myers 2010, p. 389).” (Wolf, 2014, p. 4f.)
I want to do a little exercise with you. Think of a current problem and try show it by your mimic, your gestic and your posture an remain there for a few seconds. Afterwards please think of a very happy event in your live and show it likewise. Think about how it feels and what you think by taking in the different states.
Change the pattern state of your client
For your coaching process you can invite the client to think of a moment of pure happiness or a former success or of a hot chocolate with marshmellows. At least that would work with me.
Just say: “Can you imagine a moment where you were really happy? How did it feel? What did you think”
Or you can do that future oriented by asking “Imagine your problem is solved. What is there then? How does it feel? What do you think then?”
Gluck, M.A., Mercado, E., & Myers, C.E. (2010). Lernen und Gedächtnis Vom Gehirn zum Verhalten. Heidelberg: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag
RSA Animate (2010, May 24). Philipp Zimbardo: The Secret Powers of Time. [Video File] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3oIiH7BLmg (YouTube)
Schmidt, Gunter (2012). Liebesaffären zwischen Problem und Lösung – Hypnosystemisches Arbeiten in schwierigen Kontexten. Heidelberg: Carl-Auer Verlag
Weiß, Josef (1991). Selbst-Coaching. Persönliche Power und Kompetenz gewinnen. Paderborn: Junfermann Verlag
Wikipedia (2014) Paul Watzlawick. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Watzlawick
Wolf, Carmen (2014; in prep.). The Trouble with Systemic Solution-oriented Self E-Coaching – Emotions as a key factor in changing patterns. Upcoming Workshop Proceedings of MATEL 2014