Archive for March, 2010

Motivational Interviewing, or how Coaching someone who doesn’t want to change can exhaust you!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I have spent the last few days hanging out with an old friend. I have known her most of my life and love her dearly.

The problem? She is married to her story. To the point where if someone suggests something which triggers her issues from 40 years ago, she becomes upset to the point where she will not cooperate and will threaten to leave.

Now, the above is a pattern when established long ago. She would threaten to run away when there was conflict. She played victim frequently, suggesting that it might be better if she disappeared / killed herself. When she had gotten the reaction she was looking for – people pleading that she not do what ever she was threatening to do – and had managed to avoid the confrontation or the responsibility which had caused her upset in the first place, she would be all smiles again.

This week, the problem stemmed from my trying to help her with something and all roads leading to a stone wall. When I was gathering information, making suggestions and attempting to discover what she really wanted, and what was standing in the way of getting that, many times the answer was simply, “NO!” When we did some more digging, the story came up again, many times expanded on.

What finally occurred to me, after I suggested that she might want to separate an object for a person in her mind so that she could enjoy the object and she refused to even think about it, she has no desire to change. She likes being the victim. She enjoys holding on to what she sees as her righteous indignation.

As a Coach, when I see this in a Client and it is getting in the way of their agenda, I have to ask them, what do they get from continuing to hold onto their story? Their victimhood.

Now I fully acknowledge that letting go of the story is not an easy task. I have had to let go of many stories of lost love, jobs which, in my opinion, should have been different, friends who I perceived to have betrayed me, etc. I have had to let go of my feeling of righteousness because I was done wrong! But the truth is, taking that stand, refusing to take responsibility for my part in the overall scheme of things, has never helped me in the long run.

In fact, it exhausted me. Much in the same way that working with someone who actually doesn’t want to change can be exhausting. Because, as the Coach, I am doing all the work, and unless you are a salmon going of to spawn, swimming up stream is a lot of work!

So, if I may suggest, maybe take a look at where you are resisting change, holding onto a story which no longer serves you, and blocking yourself. See what you feel when you think about letting go of that. Maybe it’s time to think about letting it go?

Things to think about. Until next time.


Transparency, or knowing what you are getting yourself into. . .

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Okay, I have a great group of friends and classmates who put on a wide variety of events and fundraisers through out the year. They also teach yoga, pilates, piano, etc. They frequently send out announcements and fliers to advertise and promote what ever they are involved in. But there are a few things which drive me crazy. Almost all of them can go under the heading of lack of transparency.

When I say transparency, I am speaking of having the information which I need to make an informed decision. This includes simple things such as time, date, location and costs. And what the event is. If you tell me that we are getting together to sing kirtan, I have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen. If you tell me that we are going to get together and have a musical evening to raise our spirits, while I might have some idea, I also might be a little surprised that I am yoga chanting which I may or may not enjoy, depending on my back ground and religious leanings. If you say, come to a night of music, and I get there and it’s Kirtan. . . See where this is going?

There are many website out there for many different industries which tell you very little about what the company can do for you, the client. They also do not tell simple things such as where the company is located and what their territory is. They spend a lot of time and marketing on hyperbola and statements which are exciting but don’t tell you anything about their product. (A few years ago an advertising student went looking for a job. He made a :30 second commercial. People went nuts and wanted the product. Because it would make them sexy, it would take care of all their problems, make their lives easier. The problem? No one knew what the product was. And in the end, it turned out that the product didn’t exist.)

When I look at a website, advertisement or promotional materials for a service or a product, I want to know what I am getting, what I can expect, what is my obligation and how much it is going to cost me in time and money. Remember, time and energy have value, too. I want to know up front what to expect.

I was at a party on Valentine’s Day having this conversation with someone. They asked me if I expected this from my Doctors, Dentists, etc. My answer was yes. I interview any professional who I work with. I talk to them regarding any procedures, etc which are being done and the associated costs. I talk to my insurance company to see what is covered and what isn’t. And when these professionals start to pile on tests, charges, etc. which are not necessary, undisclosed or covered by my insurance, I fire them. Ask for a full accounting and turn that full accounting over to my insurance company and allow them to hash is out while I go and find another professional to fulfill my needs and whom I feel is a ethical businessman.

The use of transparency does several things: for the Client, it takes some of the worry out of the equation. When the Client knows what is expected of them and what to expect, they can let go of that worry. There are style points which so make a difference in how the Coach delivers on those expectation, but overall there is some breathing room.

Another issue is that Transparency helps to keep the Coach and the Client on track. Because the Coach and the Client have Co-Created a plan based on the Clients agenda, they are able to focus on that, using course corrective actions when appropriate. This helps to eliminate a lot of false starts and stops which can cause frustration, anger, fear, and possibly other negative and potentially regressive thoughts. As a Coach, my job is to help my Clients on a positive forward path based on the Clients agenda, hopefully moving towards a healthier, happier more satisfying and fulfilled life.

And finally, transparency keeps me, the Coach, honest. There are no surprises, no unexpected expenses – well, maybe the suggestion of reading a book or two, although most should be available via your local library. This is also a way for the Coach and the Client to positively reinforce the characteristics of integrity, honesty and to be self honouring. All characteristics which are easily shifted and applied into other areas of our lives and are generally acknowledged to increase our levels of happiness, satisfaction, and enjoyment.

So, on that note, I would suggest looking at areas where you are or are not transparent in your actions, thoughts and feelings. You might discover more need for clarity. And what would you like to do about it?

Things to think about. Until next time.


You get what you pay for

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Okay, I am going to start with letting every one in a a huge secret. This is a you-can’t-tell-anyone type of secret. A for love or money secret. Ready? (Deep breath) I color my hair.

Yes, it’s true. I have for almost 20 years. It started when I was Associate Producing a small independent movie and we needed a body double, and has gone on since then.

Now, I have been very lucky. Years ago I had a friend who was a top paid colourist. Lori went to the store with me and helped me to choose the right color combination to compliment my coloring and give me the shade I wanted. Depending on the proportions I use, it’s a fabulous dark red.

Well, I am increasingly having difficulties finding the red which I like to use. So, in a fit of desperation, I grabbed a box of something that was red and on sale. I had the color for about 3 weeks, always somewhat reluctant to actually use it when, one night in a fit of desperation, I said to heck with it and colored my hair.

Bright orange. With pink and copper tones.


I know I am not the only woman who has had this experience. In all the years I have been coloring my hair, this is only the second time I have had a disaster. Not a bad rate. But it can be a bit daunting when it happens. I know I felt like kicking myself!

Now, part of this (and this is what inspired the title) was simply a matter of being a bit parsimonious. I have several expenses which I knew were coming up and didn’t want to drop the extra money on colour which I didn’t feel was going to be what I wanted it to be, I was concerned about having to redo the colour, and couldn’t I simply use this for right now while I continued to look for the right things. After all, it’s just a box of colour and it was on sale!

One of the things I find interesting as this reflects on other parts of life is where we, as a society, many times try to find a bargain only to be disappointed. We hire the cheapest person for the job, not because they have experience but because, well, they are cheap. For me (and this is my personal soap box) it is always interesting when people complain about my fees, and yet after they go to a Coach who has no real measurable experience being or training as a coach and come away less than satisfied. I many cases the Coach has either been practicing psychology with out a license, or they are being directive and working from their own personal agenda as opposed to the agenda of the client and the client has left feeling abused.

But, this is the responsibility of the Client to understand and acknowledge that there is a price to pay for experience and education and to respect that. As well, there is a price to pay for correcting a mistake, including having to redo work which was previously done incorrectly or inefficiently. (When I was in High School, my parents had the kitchen redone. The counter top was cut incorrectly. My parents chose to keep it and accept a discount. The price which was paid was and still is, the inconvenience of having a counter which is too long and blocks the flow of traffic through the kitchen. The other option at the time was to have the counter recut, which would have taken about a week. Also inconvenient, but which would have been more so?)

As a Coach and a businesswoman, I encourage my clients to shop around. I also encourage them to learn what questions to ask in order to help them, the Client, to make choices which are not only within their budget, but which also will get them what it is they are trying to achieve. To find a Coach, a tailor, a masseuse, what ever, which not only charges what they are worth, but also has the qualifications to fulfill the Clients needs and deliver what they have promised.

As for me, my sister took pity on me and took me to her hair dresser to fix my mistake. I have no idea how much it cost to correct this, but I am grateful to the bottom of my toes. It is a lesson which I will remember next time I am tempted to scrimp on some thing where I know the importance of paying full price.

Things to think about.

Until next time.


CONFLICT!!!! or what to do when you want two things which don’t work together. . .

Monday, March 1st, 2010

I am sending a birthday present to the daughter of a friend of mine. Friend hasn’t spoken to me in a while. Her choice, I have kept the lines of communication open.

Monica is a great woman. Fun, loving, supportive. She helps where ever she can, is very involved with her family, church and community. But she also has a conflict going on.

Monica is a stay at home mom. She had been in the entertainment industry before her daughter was born and she and her husband agreed that Monica could stay home after their daughter, Evie, was born. Monica was very happy because it meant that she could not only bond with her baby, but she was able to do many things which she loved such as her art, music, dancing and yoga. She dedicated herself to her husband and child to the point where she was enabling them to not see her as an independent, strong woman but as a child and servant.

I watched her become more and more frustrated as she would say, I just want some time to myself, and then when her family wasn’t demanding something of her or crying and clinging when she was leaving, she would become very upset because they weren’t.

Anyone see the conflict here?

Monica had invested a great deal of her identity in her being a wife and mother who the family couldn’t function without. To the point where she had created rather dysfunctional relationships with both her husband and her daughter in order to support. When she decided that she wanted to some space of her own – not an unreasonable desire – she came into conflict with herself because she was setting her family up for independence and the disapproval of the idea that she was irreplaceable in their lives. And then the irrational fear that she could be replaced has caused her much suffering.

As her friend and coming from a Coaching back ground, I tried to point out to her that her families independence was a good thing. It didn’t mean that they didn’t love her and need her, it meant that they were mature and capable of taking care of themselves and of her if necessary. That her family didn’t need to be intimately involved in every aspect of her life and in fact it wasn’t healthy to be too involved with everything going on with one another. Spaciousness is a good thing. This is where we, as humans, grow.

As a Coach, I encourage my clients to really take an honest look at where they have conflicting agendas. I support them in the exploration of said agendas. I understand that sometimes we are simply not ready to reconcile the two, so the challenge is learning to live with both agendas in tandem until we are ready to reconcile them. This can be done easily with out judgments or blame. Or it can be a painful fight to the death! The client can choose. It’s easy.

As for Monica, last I heard she is still frustrated with the conflict and still holding on to her fears. She will work it out as she can. Or not. Meanwhile, I simply hold her in my heart and hope she remembers to breathe.

And I am sending Evie’s birthday present.

Until next time. Something to think about.