Next in the series of guest blogs on "Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring" is from Kev Wyke. Kev is a freelance Organisational Development Consultant, a relentlessly positive coach and an eternally optimistic facilitator who has yet to start his own blog but can be found lurking on twitter @kevwyke.
Once you've read his post below, drop by and give him a grin!
It's getting on my wick!
Why do we love to moan so much? It's getting on my wick!
Over the last billion years of working in and with teams it seems to have been one of the constants, we whinge to our colleagues, we grumble to our loved ones and we moan to our mates in the pub.
For (insert deity of choice)'s sake we even invite a moan as an opening to a conversation "what's up" a how many times has a meeting started with "what could we improve" "let's have a look at what went wrong" or some other euphemism for "let's all have a good old moan about how crap it is here and spend the next hour wingeing about all the spilled milk that's passed under the bridge 'cos a good old moaning session is cathartic isn't it."
It may well be cathartic, who knows, what I do know is that it never feels productive to me. The problem I find with starting with the negatives (whether they be the moans from the past or the difficulties of the future) is that it seems to lock you in to a negative mindset. The focus is on the things that didn't work, that we didn't do or the stuff that we still need to overcome or will derail us and sometimes (ok quite often actually) that stops us from moving a single step further forward at all.
So my scientific research proves that we all love to moan and naturally fall in to this 'mode' if allowed, what can we do about it? Well here's the thing, as a coach or facilitator we have a chance to help our charges change their focus and look at the world through a different lens. And this is where I love to be relentlessly positive, gushingly appreciative and wildly optimistic to help folk to see the world a different way.
This isn't easy and can get you labeled as some half-wit who doesn't understand the risks. But believe me it can help folk move forward and is so much more fun than being a grouch all day.
So when reviewing something I like to ask questions like "What went well?" "What are we proud of?" "What do we want to do more of?".
When looking to the future I want to know "What do we want to be famous for?" "What would you like to achieve?" "When it's brilliant in a few years time what's it like?".
When deciding on options "Which of these do you really love?" "Which one gives the best outcome?" "Which will work best for you?" "Which gives you most energy?".
And when making plans "What actions will make this work?" "What is the best thing that you can do now?" "What will help you move towards your goal?".
This relentless chirpiness takes a fair bit of energy and sometimes folk don't like it, they want their opportunity to let off steam and share their woes. But remember our role as coach or facilitator is not to collude in some whinge-fest or to let folk fester in their rut, we're there to help them move forward and leap further.
So I smile and ask them again "What went well? What are you really proud of? What do you want to be famous for?".
(HT to appreciative inquiry for all it has done for me)