Today's guest post on "Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring" comes from Meg Peppin. If you don't already know her, Meg is an experienced organisational development practitioner, coach, group facilitator and organisation change agent. She has a delightful blog and can be found tweeting as @OD_Optimist .
Meg's post starts with a quote that resonates beautifully throughout her post - enjoy!
Offering unconditional positive regard
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world”Mahatma Gandhi
I am lucky that I have had some active mentors in my life; some have been formal arrangements, some informal - often by happenstance. Whoever (they know who they are) and however - they have had one thing in common, and that is their confidence to express an opinion, thought or observation and - their absolute acceptance of me. Exploring this in terms of successful practices, here's my attempt at deconstructing this:
What's the old adage? Behaviour breeds behaviour. Being with confident people makes me feel more confident. More confidence means more chance that I'll jump, stumble, fall out of my comfort zone - landing straight into the depths of my potential.
When I say confident, what am I really saying? How I see it - confident people are those whose locus of control is within them; whose drivers are not shaped by extrinsic factors, but whose drivers are intrinsically shaped by what matters to them. Confident people like this have a genuine curiousity about others, life and themselves. They aren't afraid of how others might see them and they don't worry about potential consequences. They try things and know that some will work better than others. They're proactive. They're OK with - me, you and themselves.
Offering unconditional positive regard
Translating this into coaching and mentoring; well, it's about offering encouragement, confidence, belief into the process. I don't believe that the coach or mentor is neutral party; I see myself as instrument who influences and is influenced by my experiences. I'm a participator not an observer. What I value and cherish has to be brought into my work.
David Myers describes Carl Rogers concept of unconditional positive regard as "an attitude of grace, an attitude that values us - even knowing our failings. It is a profound relief to drop our pretenses, confess our worst feelings, and discover that we are still accepted."
That unconditional acceptance, that positive regard that I have received from past and present coaches/mentors/friends/loved ones carries me when I need carrying, and propels and accelerates me when I'm flying. It's what I offer.
Putting this into practice? I strive to create a space where people to feel confident enough to really see themselves, and to find a way to accept their flaws, vulnerabilities and fears, and to help them move towards self acceptance, insight and growth. I offer my acceptance, respect and regard, unconditionally. It's OK to be angry, resentful, uncertain, or bored. I don't know the answers and I'm honest about that; I may have some experiences to share, but I know enough to know I don't know much. I offer real curiosity in my challenges and questions, I offer warmth and encouragement when they feel they've achieved something, I laugh at myself and with them when they feel foolish - I acknowledge their discomfort when they drop their pretenses. I notice and acknowledge mine. I am me, I don't play a role or adopt a different persona. I am just another human offering my unconditional positive regard. It's part of the contracting, it's part of the process, and it's part of the ending/beginning.
When someone gets that moment where they recognise connections between thinking and doing and behaviour, where they are able to be truly aware in the moment of what they are saying and how it relates to obstacles/problems, that's the time where they can take responsibility for themselves and where the internal locus sparks up. Their regard for themselves may raise up a level; it's exciting.