Conflict seems easy enough to define and understand, but it is a deeper and more complicated topic than most give it credit for. In the work environment, conflict usually takes a protracted form, most often as a series of arguments or disagreements.

Where many things in life are one way or the other, conflict takes place in stages, small problems which grow and accumulate, eventually becoming what we recognise as conflict.

As a coach, one of my bugbears is the statement “I would have spoken to you sooner, but I was feeling terrible.” No matter how extroverted a person is, when we feel bad, we withdraw into ourselves and push others away. This behaviour has its roots in our evolution as a society, we don’t want others to see when we aren’t doing well.

A person’s time of need is exactly when they should see a coach.

2023 has been a busy year, November and December are the busiest months for many sectors in South Africa, and many are feeling overwhelmed.

To be overwhelmed is ‘to feel buried/drowning/suffocating’. When you are suffocated by work, you aren’t just busy, you are also not breathing – which means you aren’t getting what you need.

Feedback is incredibly important as it is the only way we learn and grow. In a recent post I discussed receiving feedback, how you can learn from it and what you can do with it – but feedback is a loop, and now that we have discussed receiving it, we need to discuss giving it.

Returning to the case study from the previous article; Tom, Jean’s manager, had identified that Jean was repeatedly making the same mistake in her interactions with her team and had chosen to give her that feedback.

While many people might enjoy the concept of receiving feedback, this is usually on the proviso that the feedback is given in a way the receiver is comfortable with – the form, formatting, and context of the feedback itself are just as important as the receiver’s relationship to the person giving them the feedback.

Have you ever wondered whether coaches judge their clients? After all, doesn’t the coach hold all the power in the relationship, while the client is vulnerable due to their need for help?
In order for one person to judge another, they need to have power over the other, however small that power differential may be. It may seem similar to therapy; but it isn’t really the case. A therapist sitting at the far corner of the room, jotting down notes you cannot see; this seems like a situation predisposed towards judgement, but it is instead designed to create clinical separation. This separation does not really exist in coaching, because while coaching is still professional, it is far less clinical in approach. In both cases, though, judgement is unhelpful and harmful to both the client and the professional. No coach wants judgement to be part of their brand.

I have been a coach for some time now, and I’ve been doing Performance Cafe for over two years, but I recently realised that I have never actually stopped to properly explain what coaching is, and a lot of people seem to have the wrong idea.

As with all discussions of what something is, let’s start with what it isn’t.

Brené Brown is known for highlighting the impact of what she calls, “the stories we tell ourselves”. In her Netflix special, The Call to Courage, she recounts how while swimming with her husband he did not respond as expected to a statement from her. She started mulling over what culd be happening, thinking up a variety of scenarios – most of which she questioned herself in. After the swim she realised that he had in ear plugs and could not hear her and that is why he didn’t respond, and not the myriad of other reasons she had imagined. Hence she knows how the stories we tell ourselves can harm us. But where do these stories come from?

Management and coaching are generally treated as entirely separate disciplines with vastly different facets. I find the most significant difference is in how each discipline works with others; where managers tell, coaches guide. I think a lot of problems could be solved if people did a little less telling and a little more guiding, and that is where management can lean on coaching techniques.

Something I started discussing recently was how peoples’ personalities play into how they experience and take accountability. Demonstrating how accountability takes different forms for different people is one thing, coming up with solutions and adaptations for this is another thing entirely.

Where the Enneagram groups people into 9 types, CliftonStrengths is far more dynamic; a list of thirty-four strengths, reported on a personal preference basis, meaning the ranking changes depending on who is taking the test.