Ten tensions 4: involved and separate

4. Being with the client’s story and separate from it

Following the client’s interest allows us to understand the narrative they have about themselves and the nature of the issues they bring. We need to understand and feel the client’s story. We use our technique to explore their story, we give high quality attention, ask good questions that deepen our understanding and their awareness, and we show our empathy and compassion. But getting drawn too far into the client’s story is one of the pitfalls of the curious and empathetic coach. We need to be aware of the desire in ourselves to be with the client and manage ourselves so that we can help them see that story afresh. Walking beside them, we can appreciate what they see. But if they are walking in the weeds or lost in the forest, we need to detach, take the helicopter view so we can help them see more and further. We need to resist getting caught up in the excitement clients get from being heard. We need to manage our own reluctance to be discordant, and sometimes cut the story short because often we need to know far less than the client assumes we do and time is precious.

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