As a coach, I am keenly aware that some words will assist my clients in moving forward and some will halt the progress of the conversation. Flexibility is the name of the game in coaching. There is no word or belief that I am so attached to that I can’t change it in the name of progress.
This lesson came into play with a client just a few days ago. The client was talking about an opportunity that was ‘scary’. Yes, it could have been viewed as scary but given it really was an ‘opportunity’ we were discussing, I asked her, “Is it scary or is it exciting?”
See, both words are emotionally charged and the impact of the emotional charge on the body can be similar to the extent that they can get confused. Add to that, often times when you have an opportunity presented to you that could really move you towards your goals but is also something you’ve never really done before, you’re likely feeling both scared and excited.
My client was feeling scared and excited. The problem was that she was giving her emotional state the single label of ‘scared’. The words you use to describe your emotional state are very important. Some words will move you towards your goals. Some words will make you stop, or even get you running in the other direction.
At a minimum I suggest getting practiced at complexifying (yes, I think that is a word that I just made up!) your emotions. If you want to keep the label of ‘scary’ that is fine and possibly accurate, but at least add ‘exciting’ to the mix because it’s likely to also be accurate. Just including the word ‘exciting’ in the mix will cause a shift in your actions and get your brain asking more productive questions like ‘How can I achieve my goal?’ rather than ‘How can I get away from this situation?’
It’s a fine line between hard and unfamiliar. Anyone who has done my two-day course in coaching skills knows that I reinforce the difference constantly (i.e. every time someone says the phrase ‘It’s hard’). By the time we get to the end of the course everyone is conditioned to ask the question ‘Is it hard or unfamiliar?’ each time they think something is hard. Thinking of something as ‘unfamiliar’ will assist you in moving forward. Thinking of something as ‘hard’ will move you away.
It’s a fine line between ‘being responsible’ and ‘taking charge of your life’. For many people, the word ‘responsibility’ has a lot of weight attached to it. Probably because most of us grew up constantly hearing that we need to be more responsible. While most of us would consider ourselves to be responsible people – and we probably are – it doesn’t mean that having a conversation about ‘being responsible’ is enticing. But ‘Taking charge of your life!’, now that sounds like a conversation I’d be excited to have!
Be aware of the power of your words.