I recently had a client who wished she could speak up, particularly at work. She tended to keep her thoughts to herself, then feel really stressed and frustrated when things didn’t change. This stress built up and affected her both in and outside of work.
One example: When it got busy in her healthcare facility, he had a coworker who would not help at all, never mind kick it up a notch. This made her crazy, yet she suffered in silence.
I asked her what she thought would happen if she asked her coworker to help. She said, “I don’t know, maybe she’ll think I’m mean.” I said, “Maybe. What else could she think?”
She struggled to come up with alternatives so I started her off… “She could get up and help,” I said. “She could yell at you, she could sit there and ignore you, she could be grateful you let her know, she could badmouth you all around the clinic, she could not do anything different today, but change over time…the truth is you don’t know what will happen unless you try.”
The expanded perspective intrigued her, I could tell.
As I often do, I encouraged her to experiment: “The next time that happens, ask her to help and see what happens.”
She was not excited by this prospect.
I never “force” any of my clients to do anything. Though I believe everything has it’s own divine timing, I also know it is my job to help people rise out of their comfort zones.
In my last, best effort, I shared this quote from the great Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
That made her go, “Hmmm.”
We met two weeks later and I asked her if she did the experiment, if so, how did it go.
She giggled as she said, “Yes.”
Me: “So…what happened?”
Her: “Yup, nothing. She just sat there.”
Me: “How was that for you?”
Her: “It was great. Now I know…I can just let it go”
Amazing. Even though the coworker didn't help, my client nonetheless considered the experiment to be great.
She can now go about her day without that lingering anxiety and resentment. She no longer had to expend energy wishing her coworker were any different.
At the conclusion of our coaching term I like to give my clients a chance to review and celebrate how they’ve grown. One of the things she said was that she now looks forward to trying new things. In her words, “I can’t wait.” The Gretzky quote stuck with her and was now guiding her actions.
Experiments are magical!
What can you experiment with today?
For some fun ideas, go to: