Updated: Sep 20, 2018
DO I OFFEND YOU?
Coaches take note ...
(loooong post, let me know at the end if it was worth it)
I recently offended someone.
Well, I don't know for sure if I offended her. At the least she had questions about how I was communicating with her. She wasn't thrilled about how I was doing it. And she told me.
It was uncomfortable.
My personal self felt some shame and self judgment.
My professional Self felt ... ok. Neutral. Relaxed.
I CARE so MUCH, I DON'T CARE
One of my favorite stories that I recently shared with a coach who's coming to the CFJ Coaching Success School from Maryland (another note - she'll be traveling to Los Angeles once a month for 6 months to participate in the school. That's called investing in your career as a professional coach.
She's treating it like the level of investment one makes in LAW school, which is appropriate - because it's professional training, exactly like law school - although considerably less expensive).
It was early in my coaching career. Michelle Abend Bauman, (my business partner and best friend) and I were filling one of our first coaching groups for women. Steve Chandler, our coach was showing us the power of slowed down enrollment conversations, and really paying attention when we were out in the world, because as Steve says, "clients are everywhere."
CROSSFIT and ENROLLMENT (isn't crossfit enough all on its own)?
I have been a crossfitter for 10+ years - for REALZ (no, I am not the fastest or the strongest on any day. My best strength is the "show up for the gym" muscle).
One day I was paired with someone for the workout and because it was a weightlifting workout, we were able to talk. I was asking her what she did, she shared she was an ER doctor. I asked her how that was for her, and she started to share that there were things about it that were difficult, that she wasn't sure about ... then she asked me what I did.
I said, "I'm a coach - I coach men and women in their professions and their lives. And my partner and I have a coaching group for women that's starting in 2 months, and we have women who do our groups dealing with the kinds of things you are talking about. If you wanted to talk more about it we could - and you might not want to and that's fine too."
And then I asked her a question about her - her work life.
Suddenly it seemed to me that she shut down. She changed the subject, not even responding to what I had said.
OH NO - I DID A VERY "BAD" THING!!!
I felt HORRIBLE. All I could think is, "Oh crap did I screw up. Now she thinks I am trying to sell her on something. This is TERRIBLE, because now I am going to see her at the gym. Now she can't even look at me. UGHHHH."
I had a coaching session a few days later - and I shared my (terrible) story with Steve. I added these thoughts:
"I feel so bad - it was uncomfortable Steve."
"I think she was completely put off. She probably thought I was pushy ..."
"And NOW I AM GOING TO HAVE TO SEE HER AT THE GYM."
"Are you willing to risk offending in the name of serving?"
He went on:
"If you are going to be a professional coach, this is part of what you do. You are out in the world, sharing about it. If she was offended, so what?
Where are you going to put your focus?
Everything you are sharing about it is all about YOU, and your own concern about how you looked in this, and how she might have perceived you."
"What's your alternative? You aren't going to share what you are up to?"
"I get it. OK, I get it. Now what do I do if I see her though???"
"It sounds like you are still concerned about what you look like..."
"OK, ok, I see that..."
I secretly keep thinking about this with many self involved thoughts about what she was thinking about ME.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I see her at the gym. She walks over to me and I think, "Uh ok - ok, it's ok." She says to me, "You mentioned to me you are doing a coaching group ... can I talk to you about it?"
I said, "Sure" in a relaxed way. She gave me her e-mail, and in a few days we were talking.
She enrolled in our group (and our advanced group after that).
MAKING UP STORIES THAT DON'T SERVE US
Clearly I was not accurate in my perception of what occurred. I was off. WAY off.
And - the lesson was SO VALUABLE.
Am I willing to take a stand for what I'm up to and how it can serve people that I DON'T care if I offend you specifically?
NOTE: this does not mean I'm intending to offend or intentionally provoke or be confronting.
Michelle would say to coaches we were coaching, "Sometimes you have to go over the line to know you went too far."
My answer is yes.
I'm willing to risk offending in the name of serving. I'm willing to share about my school for coaches because I KNOW it will make a difference in a coaches business and life.
If I go over the line, I can course correct (btw my course correction with the woman I shared about at the beginning of this very long post was an apology).
ARE you WILLING to RISK OFFENDING in the NAME of SERVING?