A healthy conversational culture and coaching conversations
Our mental health and its value is a precious human resource that requires our attention in all aspects of our living experience. Our relationships, their quality at work and at home are all dependent upon being able to develop our mental agility, to be and remain flexible in all life circumstances and situations.
Stress and anxiety are not usually caused by one thing, often a range of circumstances have crept into our lives in several ways. Dealing with them can be complex, finding the right outlet or support is a significant step forward.
Talking and listening is the key to hearing our own inner voice of direction.
By listening and talking to each other, we enable our own inner voice of wisdom to be heard. By creating a talking and listening platform at work, school, or home we are recognising all that is going on in our world. By simple recognition of what is influencing each one of us as individuals, families and communities, we are giving value to people - giving them back autonomy and individual recognition by simple acknowledgement and listening.
What is a coaching conversation?
It is a conversation that can help to transform emotional turmoil into a sense of calm, with gentle enquiry reflection and confirmation. The fact that the person is being listened to and is also listening to their own inner voice as they are speaking brings a sense of constructive well-being and greater self-awareness. We can listen and hear some very transforming conversations in a supermarket or a bus queue when two people are absorbed in listening and talking in a well-structured way.
Leaders, teachers, and managers are all in a position of responsibility for the provision of care and their involvement in developing connective conversations, that can motivate those around them. Creating spaces to talk is commonplace within these roles as part of everyday circumstances.
Have you ever wondered and reflected on your own workplace and the people that you have worked for or with? There are people that will stand out in our experience - people who took the time to speak and listen when we felt the need. By taking time and thinking about what we are saying, how and when we speak, we can support the inner process and raise personal awareness around the issue.
This awareness is what can lead to a greater clarity, capacity and capability within the individual. Most importantly, listening and allowing that space to be filled with whatever the individual brings into the moment confidentially and securely.
A healthy learning environment is the solution. Learning to be human and to recognise that it is absolutely alright and natural to feel vulnerable and insecure, is a major part of making that space available.
Coaching can open the door to healing from a space that is real within the person, when conditions are made available for them. By creating an environment that encourages discussion in a safe and secure way, guided conversation can enable those feelings and emotions to be released gently. Not necessarily in the moment, but through the individual’s inner ability to process.
Gentle conversation is one that does not advice-push, it is directed by the person talking. The listener is simply listening and connecting fully to what is being said.
Then the listener can take advantage of an opportunity for reflection and, where appropriate, clarifying anything that seems a little confused.
Summarising what you have heard and felt back to the person can be a powerful metaphor for initiating the inner process. It is often simply enough to have been the enabler, natural processing will do the rest.
Awareness of some basic considerations for leadership as part of constructive conversation practice:
- After discussion, consider suggesting a journaling practice, a simple private record of feelings. Journaling can help to release tensions and anxiety.
- As the listener, look at what difficult conversations you may have had and look at what words you used that were triggers to creating balance and ease?
- Breathing exercises are a simple way for us to connect to ourselves. No magic formula, simply observing the breath flow in and out of the body, at its natural rate.
This practice is sufficient to lower the heart rate and stabilise thoughts.
Within an organisational environment, the benefits of developing a coaching culture will be that supervision becomes a part of maintaining a healthy conversational culture. Line managers can develop their communication skills, improve their active listening skills, and their ability to manage more effectively.
Management and other senior or responsible positions where people have daily involvement with others can benefit by having someone outside of the organisation to hear their voice. They are being heard independently and are enabling personal growth and development at their own pace.
Some of the benefits of healthy coaching conversations and supervision are:
- improved perspective
- greater balance
- increased organisational skills
- improved focus
- mindful practice
- increased creativity
- increased performance
- greater harmony
- reduction of stress and anxiety
- relationships are more meaningful, positive, and valued
- greater understanding
All in all, it can help you to learn you are not alone and that speaking about how we feel when everyone is feeling similar is still OK.