Seizing Coachable Moments

I like to think of myself as a good listener. Someone who is not stepping on the end of your sentence so I can share my hero idea. A moment of great coaching helped me  – compassionately but clearly – see a gap between this aspirational self and how I was showing up.

I was sitting alongside a presentation coach to give feedback to teammates on upcoming presentations. I was leaning ALL THE WAY IN, determined to add value. There was a lot of, “what if you opened with this instead?”…“I hear your three main points as …do you want to use those as your headlines?” The real presentation coach called for a break. On that break, she asked how I thought my feedback was being heard. Did I feel like I was listening to the presenter to let them guide our feedback? She got more direct and said, “It’s their presentation.  Try waiting, listening and asking what they need from us.”

Her feedback shifted me. Her questions changed my approach. Her coaching sparked a deeper insight. I was making this about me. Trying to prove that I could add value. Auditioning for the seat I was already in. Inserting myself as an obstacle to the presenters with my, “look at my shiny insights!”

That’s what it looks like to seize a coachable moment. A trusted colleague taking the time to help you notice you’re at a choice point. Asking a question that catalyzes insight and nudging you to try on a different behavior.

Here’s what it takes to seize those moments –

Trusted colleague. Effective coaching happens inside a relationship where we have confidence that the other person believes we can succeed. If the feedback that’s offered feels like a gotcha  – or is about shame and blame – there’s no learning happening there.

Serve the higher purpose. Wanting to be liked, wondering how our feedback or questions will land, can prevent us from seizing the coaching moment. The wanting to liked feeling doesn’t go away (at least not for me) but I can unhook myself from that as the driver when I ask, what’s the shared interest or purpose I’m here to serve? Most of us want more feedback than we get. Be the person who closes that gap.

Heard + Felt + Wondering. Get direct, concise and specific when you seize the moment. Here’s what I think I heard. Here’s what I felt in the moment. Here’s what I’m wondering. A couple of well timed questions – what’s your goal? How’s it going so far? What else might you try? – can go a long way in unlocking insight.

Get out of the way. This coachable moment is not about you. It’s not about showing how much you know. It’s not about getting approval or validation from the other person. It’s about creating a space for learning and reflection.

Know your own obstacles. What typically prevents you from seizing the coaching moment? Lack of presence in the moment? Discomfort raising that your colleague is struggling? Feeling pressed for time…and thinking “the right time” will present itself later? Name it, notice it and have a plan for your own growth.

Three other things from me this week. I’m starting my Thanksgiving menu planning; this soup is on my list. Another Thanksgiving soup contender here. And I just ordered The Book of more Delights.