This is the 5th in a series of blogs inspired by a day’s workshop in Narrative Coaching by Dr David Drake.
When I was (much much) younger my father sat down with me to have “the talk”. I was fully expecting him to unload a lot of awkward homilies about responsibility and the importance of love and respect. Instead he said to me
“When you’re out with a girl, either stay in step or in cadence with her, you know, “in time”, that way your hips won’t bump together as you walk arm in arm”.
I couldn’t believe it, this was all he had? I know we had sat through the technical details in school but I thought at least my own father would give me an inside track, some useful advice or a few pointers. All I got was the thing about being in time with them.
Actually, that deceptively simple advice has been useful over the years, whether taken at face value or applied to getting to know someone, starting a new job or working with a coaching client. Learn the rhythm, stay “in time” and it gets easier. People come to you, share with you once you engage in their world, at their pace.
I was reminded of that advice when David spoke about using metaphors to engage the emotions and energy of a client. As a coach you spend quite a bit of time in your clients metaphorical world and these constructs are often fragile. Being “in time” with them makes a difference. Not least because any story may have a huge number of interpretations and if you rush in with an assumption then rapport is broken.
Taking that one stage further, sometimes a coach will tell a story to engage the client, to illustrate a point. Then the timing is even more important. Delivering a story to a client is a risky business but so often it can lead to a deeper insight as they search for their own meaning within it.
So take care with metaphor, find that easy cadence which suits you both and let the narrative unfold.