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Advice from a hot-headed Italian: be mindful

​Full disclosure: there is nothing here that I haven’t personally faced due to my, let’s call it “excitable and effusive” attitude.

In my Coach Leader - Coaching Culture workshop I talk about three key points:

  • Being Mindful: Understanding how your perceptions and beliefs affect your conversations

  • Being Attuned: Creating trust and engaging in active listening

  • Being Thought-Provoking: Asking powerful questions to prompt self-reflection

I believe that each of the above is important in developing the skills and attitude necessary to become a good coach/leader in the workplace.

Today, I want to focus on the first one: being mindful.

When we initiate a coaching conversation with our peers, while it’s important to know how to address their challenges and help move them toward self-awareness, we need to pay attention to our own energy and how we show up in that conversation.

Having a coaching conversation is more than just discovery. It’s about connecting on a very human level. Learning the techniques of peer-to-peer coaching is useless unless we consider the person as a whole, beyond a mere co-worker.

I read an article in Harvard Business Review titled “You Can’t Be a Great Manager if You’re Not a Good Coach” in it the author makes a poignant comment : “The most powerfully motivating condition people experience at work, is making progress at something that’s personally meaningful.” Take note of the dialogues you have with your co-workers. If you can get them to share their values and what is meaningful to them, you will find that you are able to connect with them on a deeper level. When your purpose is to facilitate a discussion that considers every aspect of a person, not just one that intends to satisfy your needs, or the needs of the project you are working on, then you are stepping into a zone that is more connected and meaningful.

Numerous times, the Italian hot-head that I was, I made the mistake of showing up in a conversation with pre-conceived notions, biases, judgments, accusations and ultimately a self-fulfilling agenda. I learned that instead I had to show up like a blank slate, free of opinions and rigidity. If I didn’t clear my head of biases and set intentions before our tête-à-tête, well, let’s just say that the tête-à-tête was more like butting heads. Looking back, I know that I could have done better, listened more and tried to understand what was below the surface; but that was all I could offer at the time. Now, when I talk to someone who shows up with a similar rigidity, I try to reflect and recognize that perhaps, this is all they are able to offer. Not always easy to do in the heat of the moment.

My journey to self-awareness was quite difficult and frustrating. Realizing how much of what happened around me was caused by my attitude or pre-conceived beliefs took some time. Being mindful requires work. It involves courage and the willingness to face our demons. Sometimes, it entails that we demolish everything down to the core and start over.

So, while you can continue learning skills that will enhance your communication with co-workers, unless you pay attention to your own beliefs, values and mindset, you will come up shortsighted and most likely will continue to experience the same results. If we are not mindful of how we as individuals, are different, we will only do shallow work. To create meaningful conversations and a long lasting, supportive and trustful peer-to-peer coaching culture, we have to start by being aware of our own thoughts and mindset. What I recommend you do is to investigate patterns. Ask yourself: What triggers retreat or anger for me? What situations continue to present themselves? What are my biases about certain people? What is the attitude I bring to the table?

Once you see a pattern, look deeper. Ask why and what creates the reaction. Continue asking “why” repeatedly to each level until you get to the core reasons. This will bring awareness to your trigger points and over time, more control over your attitude and mindset.

You might not like to hear this, but the truth is, it is often about you and the energy you bring into the conversation that results in an overall unproductive outcome.

You might not have control over some of the people or situations in your life, but you can control how you show up and how you view them.

Be brave. Be mindful. I dare you.

This is part one. See part two and three.

Learn more about the Coach Leader - Coaching Culture Workshop. Click here

Roberto Giannicola - Coach & Facilitator -

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