Most of us who teach Crucial Conversations love to coach our trainees. Often this happens in the classroom during the training process, but sometimes we get the opportunity to coach one-on-one after the primary learning has taken place. This can be a great opportunity for us and the trainee if we approach it correctly. There are two key steps we will explore here: encouraging the one-on-one process and the actual coaching process itself. Our goal should be to help the trainee prepare to take action in his own impending crucial conversation—transitioning from learner to doer.
If you don’t normally have people contact you for this type of coaching, but would like to offer it, here are a couple of tips. After the acid test activity in Get Unstuck is complete, let the class know you are available after the two class days for one-on-one coaching. Let them know that you have a sign-up sheet handy and that they can book time with you now based on their availability. Reinforce this point at the end of day one, the beginning of day two, and in the wrap-up. Typically, if they don’t sign up in class, they never will. It’s also important to let them know you will respect their confidentiality—assuming you can legally do that—and that they do not have to share personal details with you. Make sure they know your goal is to get them from learner to doer.
Once you’ve begun the coaching process, the next step is to establish Mutual Purpose. What exactly does the trainee expect from the coach? What do I expect of the trainee? What am I willing to do as the coach? Starting with Mutual Purpose allows us to have clear expectations of each other and be clear about what we are trying to achieve. In this process, we also have to make sure the trainee has realistic expectations of himself. A little bit like Goldilocks, the expectations shoule be not too low, not too high, but just right. As Joseph has said many times, “We can’t talk our way out of something we behaved our way into.” If the trainee is expecting a miracle conversation, we need to help him/her be realistic. If the trainee is aiming too low, we need to help him/her use CPR to identify the right conversation to hold.
Many trainees leave our classrooms feeling a bit overwhelmed. They are unsure where to start or which skills to apply in their own crucial conversations. As you already know, it is impossible for even the best learner to leave the classroom as a master of all the skills. As coaches, we can help our trainees by determining which skills have the greatest application right now. This allows them to focus on learning and applying a manageable amount of what they learned and then add additional skills in the future as their confidence builds.
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