Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lessons from Kathryn:
How do I want to feel about myself once this conversation is finished?

Tuesday I had my weekly meeting Kathryn, who is my manager at my career coaching job. She's an amazing woman that I've learned so much from in a very short time. It's seriously mind boggling to me, this blessing I have. Others pay thousands of dollars for Kathryn's time, to receive her advice, and I not only pay nothing to receive it, but I actually get paid to receive it. That's not lost on me for a second and I don't ever resent her interjection in my life or work, I absolutely LOVE it. I've decided that from time to time when Kathryn gives me some great nuggets, I'll pass them on here, periodically.

This week, I was talking with her about challenges I have in client conversations at times when it comes to making decisions. There are times that I end up making decisions I'm not happy with myself for in the end. For instance, if a client is late or a no show, I'm supposed to dock them time for it. It costs them 30 minutes of time every time they don't give me 24 hours notice. However, I can split the time, or even completely waive it at my discretion. If somebody had a death in the family I'm very merciful of course, and don't count the time against them. However, if they just slept through their alarm, it's not the same. But sometimes I give them mercy anyway. And then I am mad at myself later, because my time is valuable and I just wasted it, and got nothing for it. (I don't get paid when I waive it.)

After giving Kathryn a few more examples of other work decisions I've regretted, I asked her if she found this particularly odd or had ever struggled with it. She said, "Are you kidding? Absolutely. That's very common." And then she proceeded to tell me this... when you are preparing for a conversation with someone, you need to ask yourself three questions:

1) What do I want the outcome of this conversation to be?
2) How do I want the other person to feel about me when this conversation is finished?
3) How do I want to feel about myself once the conversation is finished?

Then she said, "Most of us ask ourselves the first two questions but we never ask the third. And therein lies a problem...we don't think about how we want to feel about ourselves when it's over. And we end up getting mad at ourselves because we haven't considered ourselves enough in the equation. Number three absolutely HAS to be on the list.

I told Kathryn I was proud of myself now because for many years, number three didn't make the list AT ALL, and I would have been shocked to even hear someone say it needed to be there, but now I see the importance of that question making it on the list.

This doesn't just apply to career coaching, of course. I'm sharing it here because it applies to anything from pastoring to teaching, to working as an engineer.

If we keep feeling bad about ourselves or are angry about decisions we've made and wish we'd made them differently, it's time to put this list in front of ourselves before going into our daily meetings. Outcomes will be different when we do that.

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