To change through coaching: the storytelling

on BLOG, Coaching, coaching tales 16 mag, 2012

We know that coaching can be defined as a partnership between an expert (the coach) and a client (the coachee), as a communication method, or a set of skills and techniques that pay off if strengthened by the experience.

Consequently, we can easily deny that coaching is just a matter of open-ended questions (as sometimes it’s stated). It is not true! Without a method, without a set of proper and diversified skills and a solid background, with only questions the coach could not go far away, could not provoke a change, an evolution.

For example, a balanced use of silence creates the right space for reflection to the coachee. And the silence is the opposite of questions!

Apart the silence, also another skill is rarely associated to coaching (especially corporate): the storytelling. Strange, because the stories are a powerful means to gain access to the least rational and often expressed coachee’s side, to arise his interest and to temporarily move him away from self-imposed barriers (time, money, courage, expectations ...). The stories make complex concepts tangible, allow to freely play with possible solutions and results, to brainstorm, to get ready to change roles and behaviours, to avoid conscious and unconscious knee-jerk reactions.

Obviously, storytelling must be targeted and the coach must have the ability to quickly tell stories that contain similarities to the situation, the context and the problem encountered by the coachee. In this way, the coachee spontaneously identifies himself in the tale and the coaching intervention is useful and effective.

Only after the narration and after the necessary time to reflect, the coach asks the open exploration questions.

Having that said, I offer you an example of a “story for coaching," coming directly from the ancient Sufi culture and wisdom. The subject is the inertia to modify our mindset, even at the risk of being totally unproductive.

Mullah Nasrudin and the Key

During a moonless night, Mullah Nasrudin loses his house keys and begins to frantically search for them under a streetlamp. After a while, a friend of him passes and offers to help him. Thus, the two spend several minutes looking for the keys, on all fours, in the dust illuminated by the streetlight, without any result. So, the man asks Nasrudin if he is sure to have lost the keys exactly in that place.

And Nasrudin: "No, I lost them near my door."

The friend, astonished, suddenly asks "So why are we looking here?"

And Nasrudin: "Because here there is more light!"

At once, the story can make us laugh and we can even consider it exaggerated.

But let's reflect upon ourselves: how many times have we looked for something in vain? How many times have we faced with successful people, without being able to emulate them, to reach our goals? How many times have we looked at the wrong place? Surely more than once we have acted as Nasrudin.

Here you are some coaching questions:

– Cosa hai perso?

– Cosa stai cercando oggi?

– Qual è il tuo lampione?

– Come puoi cambiare la luminosità?

– Come portare la luce sulla soglia di casa?

– Quale porta è aperta dalla tua chiave?

– Come rincasare senza chiave?






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