Relationship Coaching November 25, 2014 – Posted in: Leaders and Teams, Relationships – Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A growing part of my work involves relationship coaching; the essence of which is enabling people better understand each other. This applies to teams, families and couples who bravely agree to the intervention of a third party in order to live with more clarity and cohesion in the future.

I find these sessions unbelievably beautiful and dynamic. There is nothing quite like helping people sweep away years of misunderstanding and hurt in order to see each other more clearly. And, I’m always reminded of how we each see a situation based on our own histories, assumptions and desires. An innocent comment made 20 years ago by well-meaning wife can be taken the wrong way by her spouse and becomes the breeding ground for decades of resentment, cold-heartedness and anguish for both parties.

The same applies to boards of directors, families and teams – everyone wants to feel heard, understood and supported but many don’t and will use examples of behaviour from years ago to pinpoint how they feel today. When you strip back the layers you will find misunderstanding piled upon misunderstanding causing mistrust, unhappiness and dysfunctionality at home and at work.

So, what’s the way out? For me it’s threefold:

1. Creating a safe space in which people can air their grievances and misunderstandings;
2. Establishing a common aim that everyone can agree upon, which becomes the overarching goal of the subsequent discussions;
3. Listening – truly listening to what is being communicated (not just what is being said) and responding (not reacting) in truth.

Of course, not everyone wants to involve a third party but you can apply the principles of this work to your own relationships. Seek out the ‘old stuff’ that’s troubling your relationship, establish a common goal for your work together and listen to each other (which often means parking your own agenda to allow the common goal to blossom).

Is this all easy? No! But if you want better relationships then I would say it’s utterly worthwhile.

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