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Fewer things are more powerful in the arsenal of coaching than our words and how we use them. Words can not only empower and enhance our leadership, but they can also discount our profile and devastate those in charge. Words are the essence of our trade. The wise coach does well to recognize that fact.
There are two key considerations about words that we use and the things we say.
- Words make impressions - The words that leave our mouths move through the ears of those around us and lodge themselves permanently in the minds AND hearts of those who hear. Data will be used to draw impressions regarding the kind of person we are. Once our words have logged the data and made the impression, it is beyond difficult to erase the impact. All it takes is ONE misspent word, response, or statement to cast a permanent shadow in regard to our character.
- Words grant permission – We unintentionally grant people permission to adopt our use of words and speech patterns with the way we speak. Human nature dictates that people need little encouragement to speak out of the wrong side of their mouths. But when we as coaches and leaders do it, there is a tendency for people to feel free to follow suit. Coaches who exhibit empathetic and caring-controlled patterns of speech that are loving yet firmly truthful, healing, helpful, and encouraging; will find that before long that will begin to rub off on others. Remember, only a few weeds can ruin a beautiful garden!
Types of Speech that erode Character
I found it fascinating as I was thinking and researching about this… that I came up with a list of issues that I not only found troubling… but issues that I, myself, have encountered among consultants, coaches, employees alike. It’s troubling to know that we live in such a negative work environment. That, my friends, needs to change!
- Gossip – The sharing of information about someone or something with another person who is not part of the solution. It may be true or untrue. The fact that it may be true does not provide sufficient rationale for sharing it. Telling everyone everything we know, simply because it is true, is not wholesome leadership … especially if it casts a dark cloud across or upon someone else. Gossip plants impressions that are often unjust. Gossip almost always does damage that is non-“ overcome-able.”
- Slander – The sharing of negative information with the intent to hurt or do damage. Slander is usually born out of some wrong that has been done either to ourselves or to another that we know. It is a means of revenge, a way to even or settle a score. It reflects that our hearts have not yet learned to forgive.
- Lying – It is our occupation to be truth-tellers. To represent the truth is of the highest calling! A lying tongue betrays some fundamental heart issues that need to be considered. It reflects that at the core of our being, we are more concerned about the advancement, protection, and maintenance of ourselves than we are about the primacy of reality and truth. Lying reveals that there are issues in our lives that we are trying to mask or hide. Lying may simply reveal that we have become over-committed and are unable to fulfill our commitments, which tempts us to manufacture excuses to cover the reality of our over-commitment.
- Deceit – A close relative to lying, deceit seeks to gain some advantage by masking part of the truth, twisting the details, or manipulating the communication to effect a less-than-true communication of the facts. Deceit reveals the same core realities as lying, except that it is not as blatant in its presentation. It’s more elusive than lying, but equally as devastating.
- Beguilement – We are beguiled when we draw a wrong conclusion from the facts presented. Our tongues beguile others when we share those false conclusions even though we believe that our conclusions are correct. Beguilement has a devastating impact on others. It probably tracks false information more quickly because it is so perceptually innocent.
- Complaining/Grumbling – There probably are fewer groups of people more prone to murmuring and complaining than coaches. Why? We are often unappreciated, under-loved, unheeded, and OVER-paid. Why should we complain? Seriously???
- Criticism – This devastating item emanates from the all-too-prevalent pressure from our obsession with significance to tear others down. It often reflects a self-righteous heart that has ceased to be internally honest with its own failures. It’s not that we should not be discerning and careful to observe what is right and wrong. But it does mean that we process that observation in a way that is honest and truthful.
- Boasting – At the base of a boasting tongue is a heart that has forgotten how blessed we are to truly do what we do. We simply cannot help others and ourselves at the same time. A boasting tongue, no matter how subtle, sets up an environment where the glory is focused on us. Boasting tempts others to compete with our “can you top this?” attitude and will often create resentment toward our self-adulation.
- Exaggeration – Stretching the details and expanding the set of numbers to give the story or reality a spin that makes it more compelling, this is exaggeration. It reflects a lack of trust that even our average abilities can actually help others and transform lives. If people come to believe that we exaggerate there is something that happens to our trustworthiness and our respectability.
A somewhat depressing list, if I do say so myself. But it comes from the heart. We live in a world where deceit and dishonesty for personal gain are all the norm. I don’t have cable. I don’t even have a Playstation or DVD player for movies. Our media has saturated our brains (and potentially my two kids brains) with nonsense. Could I go too far that all these negative inputs to our brains doesn’t play over into our work-lives?
I want to raise the bar for REAL COACHING in this world. I’m down. Who’s with me?