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The Dog Whisperer and Coaching?????

I attended the Coaching At Work conference this week.  Conferences give a clear picture of what is current in the field of coaching and provide the perfect setting for meeting new colleagues.  We had a packed day and one of the highlights for me was attending Dr Eunice Aquilina’s workshop on ‘Coming Back to the Centre’.

Eunice – a somatic coach – was focussing on something beloved of supervisors: how we (coaches) acknowledge and work with the impact of our clients on us, whether that impact comes as a result of their too-powerful presence, resistance, fear, lack of motivation,  etc.  In particular, we worked with how the body registers that impact – maybe through increased heart rate, sweating palms, shortened breathing, a gurgling solar plexus etc.  Our bodies have their unique way of signalling to us that something in the conversation has become strained or entangled. This information is hugely valuable to us and gives us lots of data to work with – both about our own patterns of response and about the person(S) in front of us.

I am reminded here of the Dog Whisperer – have you seen his programmes??  He is a dog behaviour expert, and he gets most of his information about a new dog from letting it mingle with his pack of dogs.  Their responses to the new dog, tell him exactly what state of mind that new dog is bringing. It is the same for us – our responses to clients are key in understanding them – and our own patterns in dialogue.  Our bodies give us the first information about how we are experiencing our clients. The body always knows first and really tuning in to this great source of information is a key skill for coaches.

In our workshop, we worked with this information and how to listen to the body’s wisdom, in order to respond to the client in a balanced, centred way and with appropriate interventions. It was great learning for all.

As I work with coaches in supervision, I notice how often we tend to skip past this part of the interaction between self and other.

I encourage you to notice the full range of your responses to your clients.  What do they tell you??  How do they inform your interventions?  How do they support or inhibit your impact as a coach???

I will write more about these crucial ‘moments’ in our work and how to work with the information that we receive.  Watch this space!

Edna Murdoch  July 2013