I was in the midst of a great workshop recently, when I was asked a question I had never heard before. The participants in this workshop were really friendly and jovial, and we had a nice casual banter going all day long. And towards the end of the day, one of them said, “You must walk away from these workshops, having seen some terrible presentations and performances. How often do you walk away shaking your head and laughing?”
And I said immediately, “Never.”
This participant was really comfortable and pushed me. “Come on. There is no way you don’t walk away laughing hard, because so many people are really bad at this. Don’t give me the politically correct, polite answer,” he said.
I smiled at him and said that I appreciated how he might assume that. But honestly, I said, “I never laugh.”
I went on to explain to him that my colleagues and I realize how hard it is for some people to stand up in front of their colleagues and speak. It is hard to know what to say. It is hard to know what to leave out. It is hard to know how to get to the point and make it valuable. And for so many people it is hard to do this well, AND be confident.
The conversation with this group on that day was great, and never awkward. But I made it clear that we don’t find humor in watching people struggle with this critical business skill. We understand how hard this is, and part of The Latimer Group’s approach is to have complete respect and empathy for the struggle that people have.
As I was having this conversation with this group, I decided that there was a good, short blog post that needed to be written. As coaches, we think it is important to meet people where they are, and respect the strengths and weaknesses they possess. If we are going to coach well, and help them, we have to bring some empathy to the discussion.
This is important, in so many ways… not just for the way we coach. If you are going to be a good colleague, leader, team member, and yes coach, you need to always remember to bring the empathy. Empathy is about respect and understanding, which are not only critical to building a good relationship. They are also seemingly in short supply today, in our hyper-busy, hyper-distracted, hyper-partisan world.
Bring the empathy, always.
Have a great day.